April 30, 2014. SAN FRANCISCO –

Code REDD and a graduate research team at Duke University have completed a year-long study titled, “Attracting Investment to REDD+: Capitalizing on Co-benefits?” The aim of the research project was to better understand whether untapped opportunities exist for private investment in REDD+ through quantifying and capitalizing on the co-benefits (e.g., additional social and environmental benefits) of REDD+ projects.

The researchers from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and Nicholas School of the Environment found that – although co-benefits are considered important and perhaps indispensable to REDD+ buyers and investors – few practitioners or investors are interested in their further quantification. Many current and potential investors offered insight into how the business case for REDD+ could be better articulated in order to attract more investment, and the researchers identified ways that the mechanism could be better integrated with other contemporary environmental efforts, such as biodiversity offsetting and water funds.

Over forty REDD+ practitioners and investors (including corporate VER buyers and REDD+ investment funds) were interviewed and/or surveyed during the project’s research. The overwhelming sentiment of those interviewed and surveyed was to advance the business case for REDD+ rather than seek ‘perfection’ in quantifying all of its co-benefits.

“REDD+ is a time-bound problem, and there is a danger that we let perfection be the enemy of the good,” said one interviewed investor. “There are scenarios when we should consider getting components of REDD+ 80% right and delivered, rather than getting something absolutely perfect just as the last tree falls over. ‘Done’ can often be better than ‘perfect’.”

The researchers did find that two potential additional private income streams for REDD+ could come from better integrating the mechanism into biodiversity offsetting and/or water funds. Doing so, the report’s authors say, could simplify the challenges that corporate actors face in addressing integrated water, biodiversity, and climate change challenges.

The report also calls for a stronger connection between the REDD+ and impact investment communities; a better understanding of the business case for carbon neutrality; and a geographic expansion of the buyer and investor universe.

This “Attracting Investment to REDD+” research comes at a time when the international community is calling for increased private investment in REDD+ and increased alignment of business goals with REDD+ emission reduction purchases. Code REDD’s Private Sector Engagement Program has been communicating the value and relevance of REDD+ to corporate investors and buyers since 2012.