Land tenure and fast-tracking REDD+: time to reframe the debate?



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The authors of this Analytical Paper argue that policy makers in forest countries must look beyond reform of tenure laws to address the pressing need for REDD+ enabling conditions.

A global agreement on REDD+ is needed by 2020 if the mechanism is to have a significant impact on mitigating climate change. However, legally defensible and enforceable land tenure rights, while a key enabling condition for effective and equitable REDD+, will not be achieved in most forest countries before this date.

In addition, by drawing on examples from Nepal and Papua New Guinea, the authors demonstrate that limited enforcement and high cost can undermine the effectiveness of legal tenure reform, while forest-owning communities with weak legal rights may in practice exercise a high level of control over forest land.

For rapid impact, therefore, policy makers should look to alternative policy options that can also create enabling conditions for REDD+, under existing legal frameworks. These include mapping national laws and policies across sectors to identify perverse incentives, loopholes and conflicting priorities that exacerbate the drivers of deforestation, and engaging civil society networks with national forestry initiatives. This can fast-track improved tenure security for forest owners and creates strong enabling conditions for REDD+.


Bolin, Anna
Lawrence, Leonie
Leggett, Matt