REDD+ under the UNFCCC
Deforestation was first introduced as a new and separate agenda item of the UNFCCC negotiations at COP-11 in 2005. Since then, the scope has expanded from reducing emissions from deforestation (RED) to include forest degradation (REDD), and three additional ‘plus’ elements: conservation of forest carbon stocks, the sustainable management of forests, and the enhancement of forest carbon stocks—together known as “REDD+”. Subsequent UNFCCC decisions have reemphasized the importance of forests in the efforts to mitigate the dangerous impacts of climate change. A suite of decisions also provide guidance for REDD+ including the development of reference levels and their technical assessment, national forest monitoring systems, safeguard information systems, addressing the drivers of deforestation, and modalities for measuring, reporting and verifying forest-related emissions and removals.
How the “full implementation” (i.e. measured, reported, and verified results) of REDD+ will be financed remains an open issue, including the use of markets. However, recent decisions recognize that such finance may come from a variety of sources (public and private, bilateral and multilateral, including alternative sources), including the Green Climate Fund. Decisions also encourage entities providing results-based finance to apply the methodological guidance consistent with UNFCCC decisions, and to continue to provide financial resources to alternative policy approaches, such as joint mitigation and adaptation approaches.
Reducing emissions from deforestation, reducing emissions from forest degradation, conservation of forest carbon stocks, sustainable management of forests, enhancement of forest carbon stocks.
National level, although subnational is recognised as an interim measure towards national implementation.
Reference levels are expressed in tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per year and defined as “benchmarks for assessing each country’s performance” in implementing REDD+ activities. Countries are currently given flexibility to develop their own methodologies for reference level construction, but must take into account historic data and maintain consistency with national GHG inventories. Adjustments for national circumstances are allowed, but information to substantiate such adjustments must be provided. Reference levels submitted to the UNFCCC are subject to a technical assessment (further information on this assessment covered under “Process”).
There is no reference to date on additionality in UNFCCC decisions related to REDD+.
Appendix I of Decision 1/CP.16 states that when undertaking REDD+ activities, actions to reduce displacement of emissions should be promoted and supported. As this is not qualified, it can be interpreted that both subnational and national level implementation should address leakage.
Appendix I of Decision 1/CP.16 states that when undertaking REDD+ activities, actions to address the risk of reversals should be promoted and supported.
According to decisions under the UNFCCC, developing countries, when undertaking REDD+ activities, are to respect the knowledge and rights of indigenous and local communities. They are also requested, when developing and implementing REDD+ national strategies and action plans, to address forest governance and land tenure issues, and gender considerations (Decision 1/CP.16). A summary of information on such safeguards should be provided periodically in a country’s UNFCCC national communication (or future communication channels agreed by the UNFCCC). The summary could also be provided, on a voluntary basis, via the UNFCCC web platform.
When undertaking REDD+ activities, consistency with conservation of natural forests and biological diversity and enhancement of other social and environmental benefits should be promoted and supported (Appendix I of Decision 1/CP.16). A summary of information on such safeguards should be provided periodically in a country’s UNFCCC national communication (or future communication channels agreed by the UNFCCC). The summary could also be provided, on a voluntary basis, via the UNFCCC web platform.
When undertaking REDD+ activities, the full and effective participation of stakeholders, in particular indigenous peoples and local communities, and transparent forest governance should be promoted and supported. In addition, actions should be consistent with national forest programmes and agreements and relevant international conventions and agreements (Appendix I of Decision 1/CP.16). Countries are asked to submit a summary of information on how the Cancun Safeguards were addressed and respected in their National Communications to the UNFCCC. A summary of information on such safeguards should be provided periodically in a country’s UNFCCC national communication (or future communication channels agreed by the UNFCCC). The summary could also be provided, on a voluntary basis, via the UNFCCC web platform.
Countries are requested to identify drivers of deforestation and forest degradation resulting in emissions and the means to address these; to identify activities that result in reduced emissions and increased removals and stabilization of carbon stocks; and to establish robust and transparent national forest monitoring systems (or subnational monitoring systems as an interim measure). Such monitoring systems should use both remote sensing and ground-based approaches for estimating emissions and removals, forest carbon stocks and forest area changes; provide transparent, consistent, and accurate estimates; be transparent and their results available and suitable for measuring, reporting and verifying emissions and removals; build upon existing systems; enable the assessment of different types of forest, including natural forests (as defined by the country); be flexible and allow for improvement; reflect the phased-approach; and may provide relevant information for national safeguard information systems
In addition, developing countries should provide data and information used to estimate forest-related emissions and removals through a technical annex to biennial update reports to the UNFCCC. This is particularly true if a developing country is seeking to obtain and receive payments for results-based actions.
There is no reference to date on registries in UNFCCC decisions related to REDD+.
Developing countries are invited, on a voluntary basis, to submit proposed forest reference emission levels and/or forest reference levels (REL/RLs) to the UNFCCC; the secretariat will make such information available on the UNFCCC REDD web platform. Once a year, sessions will be organized for the technical assessment of submitted forest REL/RLs, the objective of which are to assess the degree to which information provided is in accordance with the guidelines and to offer a facilitative, non-intrusive, technical exchange of information on the construction of forest REL/RLs with a view to supporting the capacity of developing countries for the construction and future improvements of their forest REL/RLs. Additional verification rules may be developed if REDD+ is included in a market mechanism in the future.