What is REDD+?
REDD+ is an acronym for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation, as well as conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks.
Deforestation, at roughly 15% of global annual greenhouse gas emissions, is pumping more CO2 into our atmosphere than the entire global transportation sector. Forests are our greatest ally in regulating the climate, and forests should be our greatest means of carbon storage, but we’ve turned them into the second largest emitter of greenhouse gases. Since the onset of human civilization, deforestation has led to the destruction of nearly half of the world’s trees. The destruction and unsustainable use of forests for commodity production, cattle grazing, and for local livelihoods has dramatically reduced the capacity of forests to absorb carbon dioxide (the most abundant greenhouse gas). Now more than ever, the science is clear: the single most important thing a government, a corporation, or an individual can do to take climate action now is to keep trees standing.
The United Nations created the REDD+ mechanism to quantify and value the carbon storage services that forests provide. By making forests more valuable standing than cut down, REDD+ provides forest communities and developing countries with a NEW, sustainable, low-carbon pathway to economic growth.
REDD+ projects work with communities to restructure local economies towards sustainable land use and forest conservation. The sale of resultant Verified Emission Reductions helps finance low-carbon, sustainable development activities. REDD+ projects are independently validated and verified to ensure both the emissions reductions and the community and environmental benefits are transparent and accountable.
REDD+ Programs & Policies
While REDD+ projects continue to work on the ground with communities, national and subnational REDD+ programs and policies continue to be developed around the world. These programs will not only be vital to global climate change mitigation strategies, but will also help developing countries pursue broader ‘green growth’ objectives as well.
Technical programs are being developed to “nest” current project activities into these larger national and subnational programs. Many countries, states, and jurisdictions are also now looking to how they can partner with each other to achieve shared emissions reductions goals. These activities fall under institutional bodies such as UN-REDD, the Governors Climate & Forests Task Force, and more.
Benefits & Safeguards
The benefits of REDD+ go well beyond emissions reductions to include forest conservation, sustainable economic development, and biodiversity preservation.
By recognizing the economic value of ecosystem services that standing forests provide, REDD+ helps realign economic incentives with environmental integrity. This not only stops deforestation, but also gives indigenous and forest communities the opportunity to develop in a more sustainable way.
REDD+ can have enormous benefits for the environment and indigenous people alike if and when it is implemented correctly. For this reason, safeguards are needed to ensure the environmental and social integrity of any REDD+ activity.
At the project level, such safeguards are validated and verified by independent bodies, such as the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) and the Climate, Community & Biodiversity Alliance (CCBA). All projects that join Code REDD have achieved both of these accreditations, as well as met the Code REDD Code of Conduct.
At the program and policy level, various multilateral bodies are working to unite and solidify environmental and social safeguards for REDD+. The REDD Offsets Working Group has recommended rigorous Social and Environmental Safeguards for jurisdictional REDD+ programs.