The Top 10: What’s wrong with REDD?

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on StumbleUpon

The Top 10: What's wrong with REDD?

If you’re looking for a list of what’s wrong with REDD, then look no further. The Climate Justice Research Project at Dartmouth College has just produced this top 10 list (fully referenced version below):

    1. Calculation of offsets is highly sensitive to choice of baseline methods and data availability, raising the potential for fraudulent “hot air” resulting from corruption

    2. There is a severe lack of environmental safeguards in place to protect affected communities or to avoid biodiversity loss beyond project boundaries

    3. REDD forest definitions can encourage plantation forestry, leading to mono-cropping and food insecurity

    4.There is a severe lack of genuine community participation in project planning, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation

    5. A lack of consultation with people affected by REDD projects means individuals affected often do not receive benefits and are further impoverished

    6. REDD can create pressures for recentralization of forest governance, undermining the social, ecological, and carbon benefits of traditional forest management and the customary rights livelihoods of forest-dwelling peoples while encouraging corruption

    7. REDD adopts a neoliberal approach that tries to solve the problem with the same practices that caused it in the first place, failing to address the fundamental issue of consumption that drives environmental degradation and which will continue to drive deforestation if unaddressed

    8. REDD-style projects displace communities without effective resettlement plans, leading to increased poverty, marginallization, cultural loss, food insecurity, loss of eduction, etc., that are unlikely to be compensated due to corruption and capture of benefits by elites

    9. The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is not legally binding, and prominent REDD proponents, such as the United States, either voted against it or abstained, suggesting little commitment to efforts to improve REDD protections for indigenous peoples or even grant them the right of free, prior, and informed consent that is essential for protection of their rights and project effectiveness

    10. Because of its weaknesses, REDD is primed to become part of the “last great land grab” on the part of corrupt elites taking advantage of insufficient protection of customary rights


As the UN climate negotiations move along in Cancún, one step forwards, two steps back, and some staggering around in no particular direction at all, REDD is hailed as the big hope from Cancún. But if REDD is to do anything apart from provide a green fig leaf for continued pollution and a potentially massive land grab, there are some serious problems that need to be addressed.

Here is the fully referenced version of the Climate Justice Research Project’s “Top Ten Disasters to Heed from REDD/REDD+ projects” – it is also available for download here (pdf file 121.2 KB):

CLIMATE JUSTICE RESEARCH PROJECT SCHOLARLY NOTE
REDD & REDD+[1]

Dartmouth College
Climate Justice Research Project

Agreement between Parties on supporting Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) projects is often cited as the most substantial outcome of COP15. While it remains inappropriate to address a problem with a solution that stems from the same basic principles, (i.e., demonstrably failed neoliberal policy measures) REDD remains a reality for being implemented as a “solution” to climate change. Therefore, it is essential to pay great attention to the very real, disastrous potentials of REDD/REDD+ and move towards policies that truly benefit local and indigenous communities, longstanding and too often marginalized stewards of forests. A review of the scholarly literature by the Dartmouth Climate Justice Research Project (CJRP) compels us to flag concerns on REDD and REDD+ accordingly as below.

Top Ten Disasters to Heed from REDD/REDD+ projects:

  1. Calculation of offsets is highly sensitive to choice of baseline methods and data availability (Griscom, et al., 2009; Pirard and Karsenty, 2009; Dudley, 2010; Huettner, et al., 2009; Umemiya, et al., 2010), raising the potential for fraudulent “hot air” resulting from corruption (Brown, 2010: 260)
  2. There is a severe lack of environmental safeguards in place to protect affected communities or to avoid biodiversity loss beyond project boundaries (Pauli, et al., 2010; Sasaki and Putz, 2009)
  3. REDD forest definitions can encourage plantation forestry (Sasaki and Putz, 2009), leading to mono-cropping and food insecurity.
  4. There is a severe lack of genuine community participation in project planning, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation (Kelly, 2010: 68; Clark, 2010: 49-50, 57-59; Asquith, et al., 2002: 331-332; Couto Pereira, 2010; Friends of the Earth International, 2010: 15, 18, 20-21)
  5. A lack of consultation with people affected by REDD projects means individuals affected often do not receive benefits and are further impoverished (Kelly, 2010: 68; Clark, 2010: 49-50, 57-59; Asquith, et al., 2002: 331-332; Couto Pereira, 2010; Friends of the Earth International, 2010: 15, 18, 20-21)
  6. REDD can create pressures for recentralization of forest governance, undermining the social, ecological, and carbon benefits of traditional forest management and the customary rights livelihoods of forest-dwelling peoples while encouraging corruption (Kelly, 2010: 69; Seymour, 2008: 11; Phelps, et al., 2010).
  7. REDD adopts a neoliberal approach that tries to solve the problem with the same practices that caused it in the first place, failing to address the fundamental issue of consumption that drives environmental degradation and which will continue to drive deforestation if unaddressed (Brown, 2010: 262; Global Forest Coalition, 2010: 5; Butler, et al., 2009; Dauvergne, 2010; Meyfroidt, et al., 2010)
  8. REDD-style projects displace communities without effective resettlement plans, leading to increased poverty, marginallization, cultural loss, food insecurity, loss of eduction, etc., that are unlikely to be compensated due to corruption and capture of benefits by elites (West, et al., 2006; Andarn, et al., 2008; Nepstad, et al., 2006; Bray, et al., 2008; Joppa and Pfaff, 2010).
  9. The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is not legally binding, and prominent REDD proponents, such as the United States, either voted against it or abstained (United Nations, 2007), suggesting little commitment to efforts to improve REDD protections for indigenous peoples or even grant them the right of free, prior, and informed consent that is essential for protection of their rights and project effectiveness (Lawlor, et al., 2009: 11-12).
  10. Because of its weaknesses, REDD is primed to become part of the “last great land grab” on the part of corrupt elites taking advantage of insufficient protection of customary rights (Rights and Resources Initiative, 2008; Indigenous Environmental Network, 2009)

LITERATURE REVIEW

Andarn, Kwaw S., Paul J. Ferraro, Alexander Pfaff, G. Artuor Sanchez-Azofeifa, and Juan A. Robalino (2008). Measuring the effectiveness of protected area networks in reducing deforestation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 15(2): 16089-16094.

Asquith, Nigel M., María Teresa Vargas Ríos, and Joyotee Smith (2002). Can forest-protection projects improve rural livelihoods? Analysis of the Noel Kempff Mercado Climate Action Project, Bolivia. Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change. 7: 323-337.

Bray, David Barton, Elvira Duran, Victor Hugo Ramos, Jean-Francois Mas, Alejandro Velazquez, Roan Balas McNab, Deborah Berry, and Jeremy Radachowsky (2008). Tropical deforestation, community forests, and protected areas in the Maya forest. Ecology and Society. 13(2): 56 (online).

Brown, Michael L. (2010). Limiting corrupt incentives in a global REDD regime. Ecology Law
Quarterly
, 37: 237-267.

Butler, Rhett A., Lian Pin Koh, and Jaboury Ghazoul (2009). REDD in the red: Palm oil could undermine carbon payment schemes. Conservation Letters. 2: 67-73.

Clark, Ross Andrew (2010). Moving the REDD debate from theory to practice: Lessons learned from the Ulu Masen project. Law, Environment, and Development Journal, 6(1): 36-60.

Couto Periera, Simone Novotny (2010). Payment for environmental services in the Amazon forest: How can conservation and development be reconciled? The Journal of Environment and Development. 19(2): 171-190.

Dauvergne, Peter (2010). The problem of consumption. Global Environmental Politics. 10(2): 1-10.

Dudley, Richard G. (2010). A little REDD model to quickly compare possible baseline and policy scenarios for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation. Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change, 15: 53-69.

Friends of the Earth (2010). REDD: The realities in black and white. Amsterdam: Friends of the Earth International.

Global Forest Coalition (2010). Getting to the roots: Underlying causes of deforestation and forest degradation, and drivers of forest restoration. Asunción, Paraguay: Global Forest Coalition.

Griscom, Bronson, David Shoch, Bill Stanley, Rane Cortez, and Nicole Virgilio (2009). Sensitivity of amounts and distribution of tropical forest carbon credits depending on baseline rules. Environmental Science and Policy, 12: 897-911.

Huettner, Michael, Rik Leemans, Kasper Kok, and Johannes Ebeling (2009). A comparison of baseline methodologies for ‘Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation’. Carbon Balance and Management. 4(4): Open Access.

Indigenous Environmental Network (2009). REDD: Reaping profits from evictions, land grabs, deforestation, and destruction of biodiversity. Indigenous Environmental Network. Accessed 1 December 2010, from: http://www.ienearth.org/REDD/redd.pdf.

Joppa, Lucas, and Alexander Pfaff (2010). Reassessing the forest impacts of protection: The challenge of nonrandom location and a corrective method. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. 1185: 135-149.

Kelly, David J. (2010). The case for social safeguards in a post-2012 agreement on REDD. Law, Environment, and Development Journal. 6(1): 61-81.

Lawlor, Kathleen, Lydia P. Olander, and Erika Weinthal (2009). Sustaining livelihoods while reducing emissions from deforestation: Options for policymakers. Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions Working Paper. NI WP 09-02. Durham, NC: Duke University Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions.

Meyfroidt, Patrick, Thomas K. Rudel, and Eric F. Lambin (2010). Forest transitions, trade, and the global displacement of land-use. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Early Edition. Accessed 2 December 2010, from: http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2010/
11/05/1014773107.full.pdf+html
.

Nepstad, D., Schwartzman, S., Bamberger, B., Santilli, M., Ray, D., Schlesinger, P. Lefebvre, A. Alencar, E. Prinz, Greg Fiske, and Alicia Rolla (2006). Inhibition of Amazon deforestation and fire by parks and indigenous lands. Conservation Biology. 20(1): 65-73.

Pauli, Gary D. Philip L. Wells, Erik Meijaard, Matthew J. Struebig, Andrew J. Marshall, Krystof Obidzinski, Aseng Tan, Andjar Rafiastanto, Betsy Yaap, J. W. Ferry Silk, Alexandra Morel, Balu Perumal, Niels Wielaard, Simon Husson, and Laura D’Arcy (2010). Biodiversity conservation in the REDD. Carbon Balance and Management. Open Access.

Phelps, Jacob, Edward L. Webb, and Arun Agrawal (2010). Does REDD+ threaten to recentralize forest governance? Science, 328(5976): 312-313.

Pirard, Romain and Alain Karsenty (2009). Climate change mitigation: Should “avoided deforestation” be rewarded? Journal of sustainable forestry, 28: 434-455.

Rights and Resources Intiative (2008). Seeing people through the trees: Scaling up efforts to advance rights and address poverty, conflict and climate change. Washington, DC: Rights and Resources Initiative.

Sasaki, Nophea, and Francis E. Putz (2009). Critical need for new definitions of “forest” and “forest degradation” in global climate change agreements. Conservation Letters. 2: 226-232.

Seymour, Francis (2008). Forests, climate change, and human rights: Managing risk and trade-offs. Bogor, Indonesia: Center for International Forestry Research.

Umemiya, Chisa, Masahiro Amano, and Suphawadee Wilamart (2010). Assessing data availability for the development of REDD-plus national reference levels. Carbon Balance and Management. 5(6): 1-7.

United Nations (2007). General Assembly adopts declaration on rights of indigenous peoples. GA/10612. Accessed 2 December 2010, from: http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs
/2007/ga10612.doc.htm
.

West, Paige, James Igoe, and Dan Brockington (2006). Parks and peoples: The social impact of protected areas. Annual Review of Anthropology. 35: 251-277.


[1] ^^ Research assistance was dutifully provided by CJRP COP16 interns: Caleb Gallemore and Julie Koppel Maldonado.

Bookmark the permalink.

17 Comments

  1. As far as I can tell, this is a list of the major challenges to REDD that have been addressed successfully…mostly.
    My main concern is that what passes for “sustainable” logging could be introduced in hitherto roadless areas resulting in negative bio-diversity impacts and future forest degradation.

    Otherwise, I remain a strong proponent of REDD…

  2. Thanks for posting this revealing compilation of REDD’s structural and systemic failures. Such rigged neoliberal/neocolonial games as REDD, remind me of Einstein’s observation that one cannot solve a problem using the same thinking that caused them.

  3. @ric – Can you provide any evidence for your claim that these issues have addressed successfully? I know you’re a strong proponent of REDD, but your position appears to be based on wishful thinking.

    But thanks for pointing out an 11th item for the list of what’s wrong with REDD – the myth of “sustainable forest management” through which REDD payments could go to industrial logging operations in old-growth forests.

  4. mahendra budhram

    @ Chris – REDD+ is a rational means through which developing countries can benefit from carbon financing. Let me give you a quick example.

    As a former employee of the Guyana Forestry Commission, I know of a few things that the general public is unaware of.

    Our deforestation rate stands at maximum 0.3% per annum. Norway/Guyana MOU sets a treshold of 0.45% per annum.

    There are about 6 large Indian logging companies eager to invest in our forest sector and 3 other Chinese companies are also interested. Many community groups are pressuring the government for more lands. The Brazillians are hoping to get their hands on more of our gold. If the gov’t relaxes on its efforts to protect our forests, do you think that we will be able to maintain a deforestation rate of 0.3%? Remember at this moment there are over 6 million hectares of forests that are unallocated for any purposes, 1 conservation concession of about 1 million hectares, 3 million hectares of forest with less than 250,000 m3 of log production on an annual basis.

    It is not that Guyana is unable to produce more (higher deforestation rate) its because the gov’t is keeping the forestry and mining sectors in check. Over the past 2 years the GFC staffing has doubled, an indication of things of things to come.

  5. REDD is a vehicle for the World Bank to aquire steal , take control of …forest nations land.
    Present government induviduals of forest nations are eager to be personally paid to participate their countries , hence the serious attendenced with tounges hanging out of cop 15 &16 etc etc etc etc.
    The proposed Wold Bank ‘ Carbon Bank ‘ is the main objective to the UN.
    Please Mahendra and your country dont be conned by this REDD rubbish.
    Any money offered from any country like EU or USA comes at huge price to any forest nation that ever considers this fraudulent REDD or +.
    The answers are not within a global approach , the whole UN system does not work in any sphere.
    And until these UN idiots learn and understand that you can not tackle climate change until you preserve and monitor forest areas of the world, then this REDD keeps going around in circles , as a lure.
    That means REDD goes straight back to its fraudulent beging of miss inceptions , lies and propogandah.
    After the recent events of FIFA it should be understood that the UN as FIFA has only one thing in mind and that is to try and make a huge profit.Unfortunlatly is this case its from the worlds forest nations.
    The UN and the Worlds leaders need to be removed and replaced with logical thinkers and doers, they have had enough time now to completly stuff up the world as its heading.
    Keep and eye on their shonky deals , did any one take the time to understand the terms and conditions of the recent refinance of Ireland.
    I cant wait to see the next deal for Spain , Greece and all the rest of the EU countries that are deverstated by the worlds economy because of the managament by the EU and the World Bank.

  6. mahendra budhram

    @ Don

    Lets face it, i agree with my President. The forests in Guyana are ours, not the world. The developed countries raped their lands those of their colonies also. Now they want to tell us to protect our forests and stay poor? It’s not happening, we have the right to be as wealthy as the colonial masters who displaced and destroyed our cultures and lands for their gains. I’m sorry if they want us to protect our forests, then they would have to pay us.

    Or they can convert those nice parking lots, housing projects and their state of the art highways back into forests and keep their money, you know….do their part to create “new lungs” of the planet. They can also stop all their industrial factories that are pumping tons and tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

  7. @ mahendra

    I completely agree with you, western states should definitely compensate states that have been raped and pillaged in the name of western ‘progress’. But, don’t you think that they should do it in a way that actually claims responsibility for such unjust accumulation? The costs for providing these funds should not be born onto those who deserve the benefits the most. Questions of sovereignty, local governance and community autonomy should not now be answered by the same entities that manipulated these issues in the past. After all, paying back the climate debt that is deserved should not come with even more strings attached. Why is it that funds are only freed up now based on the ability for western states to continue to dictate where that money will go, and what markets will ultimately open up for western governments and corporations.

    ‘Donor’ countries should not expect to enjoy the fruits of this, as they usually do. They need to recognize that this should not be used as another means to, as they say, ‘benefit everyone involved’. Just like they have done with aid/trade for the past 30 years.

  8. @ Chris et al.

    is this what you call an honest, solution-oriented policy dialogue? is this how what you call providing accurate information to empower local communities around the world to make informed choices about REDD and their future livelihood?

    It very much frustrates me how certain individuals and organizations claim to speak on behalf of indigenous peoples and communities rather than actually giving them their own voice, giving them the right to balanced information and the right to choose – for and against certain aspects of REDD, for and against specific proposed projects or activities. But the choice has to be theirs and neither you nor others can simply take over their voice and their right and pretend there is a near monolithic opposition of anyone but neo-liberal capitalists to a very multifasceted and very much evolving effort to lower deforestation.

    There are certainly valid reasons to oppose or criticise certain aspects of REDD as proposed in various fora, and their are certainly some communities who may choose to reject a proposed REDD project based on balanced information. However, I have been sadened on more than one occasion to talk with community representatives who are very keen on opportunities to shape a different future for themselves through REDD projects and activities – but have not dared to say so in international fora because their participation was sponsored by “anti-REDD” organisations. I also have spoken to many forest and agricultural community members on the ground who were very much interested in exploring REDD options and had actually made quite positive experiences with some NGOs and companies engaged in REDD efforts in their areas. Where are the accounts of these cases and an open-minded evaluation of what works and what doesn’t?

    I am in no way saying these positive cases represent a universal truth (as you seem to be implying about the opposite, on the other hand) and their are clearly examples to the contrary. But the reality is a lot less simple and negative than you depict it. And I believe your style of campaigning (or reporting?) on this topic does gross injustice to the people on whose behalf you claim to speak. You should allow for different voices and give space to different interpretations and experiences on the ground.

    I do not want to go through your list of partially valid concerns and valid mention risks about certain ways that REDD could be conceived – and this phrasing is deliberate because it is simply not possible to present these things as facts given how variable experiences are on the ground, how preliminary the state of negotiations, how differentiated initiatives from voluntary markets to project sponsorship to ODA programmes to national strategies. Doing so, is an intentional misrepresentation of a non-black-and-white reality, bad journalism and unconstuctive activism.

    Just on 2 of your points:
    “3. REDD forest definitions can encourage plantation forestry, leading to mono-cropping and food insecurity”
    – please show us these agreed upong REDD forest definitions in the REDD negotiations that have this effect. Some definitions might indeed carry those risks (others do not) – but is this an established truth about REDD?
    The VCS and its REDD methodologies explicitly exclude tree plantations in REDD projects.

    “4.There is a severe lack of genuine community participation in project planning, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation”
    – Again, a universal truth? I am sure these projects exist. But it is also plainly obvious that many others exist. Why not acknowledge that several projects have achieved CCB certification, why not suggest that these tools could be a way to alleviate your possibly valid fears? Can’t we be constructive? These standards, validation reports, project documents are publicly available, you can comment on them and scrutinize them. Is it ethical to deny the communities that have voluntarily decided to participate in these projects and share in its benefits this possibility, to deny them their right to make informed free decisions?

    If your mission really is to empower communities, give them a voice, improve their livelihoods, then you should seriously re-consider your approach – and you should honeslty question what motivations of your own (not the people you claim to spead for), including ideological ones, your are following.

  9. @Johannes

    The problem is that REDD is going to apply in the *real* world, not in some idealised world where tropical forest countries’ governments are free from vested interest, corruption, short-term political motivations, and sometimes a deeply-seated and long held prejudice against indigenous peoples and forest-dependent communities more generally that occasionally borders on the outright racist.

    In these circumstances, what do think these governments are going to do if given the choice – use REDD funding to plant financially profitable oil palm and eucalyptus plantations, or protect nice biodiverse natural forest that generate no taxes and provide a haven for ethnic groups that they despise? Are they going to allow equitable distribution of REDD funding to these communities, or are they going to do everything they ca to capture the revenues in central government and thus into private hands, just as they with every other flow of revenue from natural commodities.

    One would like to think that the bad outcomes would not happen, but even the first ‘pilots’ of REDD in countries such as PNG, Guyana and Indonesia have tended to show that this is exactly what will happen unless very strict regulations and safeguards are built around REDD, and this is precisely what most tropical countries (with a few honourably exceptions) are bitterly opposed to.

    Until, such time as rigorous and enforceable rules are constructed, and huge (political and financial) efforts made to increase governance standards in the relevant tropical countries, then REDD will remain a theoretical pipedream. At the moment, no-one is even talking about making those things happen.

  10. @Johannes Ebeling – To clarify one important point before going any further: I am not claiming to speak on behalf of anyone.

    As you are fully aware, the problems illustrated by this list have existed since REDD was dreamed up. There has been painfully little progress in addressing them.

    Your comment about “anti-REDD” organisations sponsoring indigenous people to travel to international fora cuts both ways. I’ve also met indigenous people who don’t want to speak out about REDD publicly because they are sponsored by pro-REDD organisations. There’s a lot more money floating around for this sort of sponsorship on the pro-REDD side.

    To deal with the two points you raise:

    3. Forest definitions. In five years of discussions about REDD, the UN has failed to come up with a definition of either forests or degradation in the REDD negotiations. There is a definition under LULUCF which I’m sure you would agree is hopeless. The “V” in VCS stands for Voluntary – if you think a voluntary definition is enough, then we’ll just have to agree to differ.

    4. Participation. You’re probably right that this is not a universal truth. But it remains a crucial problem, although admittedly not one that is exclusive to REDD. Again you are suggesting a voluntary scheme to address the problem. I don’t think that’s going to be adequate.

    There’s a fascinating recent video about the Kalimantan Forest Climate Partnership, which illustrates well some of the complexities.

    You may well believe that your way is the best way of looking at REDD. That’s fine. But ignoring the serious structural problems with REDD will not make them go away. And voluntary schemes will not address the problems – in the same way that FSC cannot address Rimbunan Hijau’s destruction.

  11. @ sarah

    Even in Guyana, some indigenous groups are claiming that they were not properly consulted on some aspects of the LCDS. I’m also perplexed as to why the president would want to equip each amerindian home with solar power, when he has already made significant financial input to kickstart a rather ambitious Hydropower project. I think for REDD+ to be effective, projects should be aimed at alternative income sources rather than handing out useless tokens.

  12. @ Chris & Simon

    I am NOT suggesting a voluntary approach to deal with the real risks (not universal realities) that exist with REDD, and I am indeed very well aware of the risk of elite capture, exclusion, corruption that exist in many or most developing countries. I actually highlighted the massive governance problem with REDD in a study already in 2006 to caution against exaggerated expectations. What is happening in PNG is indeed proof of the risks (not facts, not unavoidable outcomes) that exist with a monumental undertaking that REDD represents.

    What I am urgently suggesting is honest reporting and constructive engagement. Both elements are missing in your coverage of the issues and I find this a huge shame – and, indeed, in many ways irresponsible and a disfavour to communities around the world – because we need passionate and critical people like you to contribute to finding a solution (!) for making a different development pathway possible for developing countries.

    What I pointed out in my post is that in this list of 10 and many other articles you state “truths” and “facts” about REDD that simply are neither but rather possibilities and risks. This is why I pointed out that (3) there simply is no formal forest definition agreed (I am not saying that this is not a problem, just that you cannot state as a fact the contrary) and that voluntary schemes absolutely have paid attention to perverse incentives and developed effective solutions. I am not saying voluntary approaches are the way to go, but rather that both facts are either distorted or simply ignored in your reporting /campaigning.
    This is important because what you write conjures up a “reality” of REDD that simply does not exist in this way and because it seeks to mobilise a fundamental opposition to this image, while what we need is an effort to define the best way forward and draw on (i.e. accept, identify, analyse) positive experiences that do exist!

    Same for (4) where obviously some very positive on-the-ground experiences exist re community participation that have been achieved through existing standards such as VCS and CCB. So rather than ignore or deny this fact, why not promote this in your own reporting, and push for including such approaches as (mandatory) safeguards in non-voluntary schemes. That would be fundamentally different from saying “no to REDD”, while we now have to opportunity to define what REDD actually can be!

    The risks you point to exist – they are not facts – and so do ways of mitigating these risks and suggesting better ways forward. Merely saying no, and distorting reality into a black-and-white world of ideology is not helpful to anyone but of course a very comfortable position for claiming the moral high-grounds. Until you commit to balanced reporting, suggest alternative solutions and, possibly, bring yourself to support some of the solutions that have been suggested to tackle the risks you identify, then you are not credible. And all this passion and energy, that could be employed constructively to make the best of a historic opportunity is largely wasted.

  13. @ Johannes

    Shouldn’t you be taking your concerns up with Dartmouth College? In a sense you’re just ‘shooting the messenger’, as it is not REDD-Monitor that has come up with this ‘Top 10 problems with REDD’. And nowhere, as far as I can see, is anyone presenting them as ‘facts’ – they’re clearly ‘informed opinions’, exactly as ‘risks’ are, in the terminology of the finance sector.

    If real successes occur through voluntary REDD schemes, then I am sure that we we would all be interested to know about them and applaud them. But it seems to me that it is still way too early to call any REDD scheme a success: as you well know, the putative carbon benefits are largely based on untested projections and, as any informed development practitioner will tell you, it is extremely unusual to know the real *impact* of any kind of development intervention in less than a decade or so. More importantly, what remains to be seen (and will probably only be known once it is too late) is whether voluntary REDD schemes, which almost all ultimately rest on offsetting, will stand the test of the continuing climate change which these offset schemes will allow.

    And, yes, of course, many of us have been pushing for there to be mandatory safeguards in multilateral policies and programmes on REDD. It surely says something about the underlying motives of those involved in these discussions – both multilateral agencies such as the World Bank, and their tropical country clients – that they have been so doggedly reluctant to adopt and uphold such safeguards.

    Those of us who have been doing this kind of work for many years know the warning signs of ‘business as usual under a new guise’ when we see it.

  14. johannes ebeling

    @Simon:

    “If you’re looking for a list of what’s wrong with REDD, then look no further”, in the article above, does not exactly sound like “nowhere (…) is anyone presenting them as ‘facts’ – they’re clearly ‘informed opinions'”…

    As I said, let’s be open-minded and balanced – or at least honest about being opinionated and biased. And not present opinions as facts.
    If you say carbon benefits are putative and “based on untested projections”, then let’s note that the same is true for REDD-Monitor’s “factual reporting”. At least, for the former, there is a transparent mechanism of external validation and ex-post verification.

  15. @Johannes (#14) – Researchers at Dartmouth College produced a list. They called it “Top Ten Disasters to Heed from REDD/REDD+ projects”. I called it “a list of what’s wrong with REDD”. Sorry if that was confusing for you.

    I think this statement from the post above is important: “if REDD is to do anything apart from provide a green fig leaf for continued pollution and a potentially massive land grab, there are some serious problems that need to be addressed.” Note the word “if” at the beginning of that extract. This list outlines some of these problems that need to be addressed. You could see this as a positive thing for REDD – if the problems are not meaningfully addressed, the “solutions” won’t work. You claim that the problems either have been addressed or are being addressed (at least in some cases). Looking around at what’s happening with REDD, I’m not convinced that this is actually the direction that REDD is moving.

    For example, it’s very interesting to look at number 3 on the list in the context of the current discussion in Indonesia. If President Yudhoyono signs the draft decree produced by the Ministry of Forestry, the two-year moratorium will only apply to “primary forests” and forests on peat deeper than three metres (of course it is already illegal to convert forest on peat deeper than three metres). That would allow the conversion of tens of millions of hectares of forest to industrial plantations under a so-called moratorium as part of a US$1 billion dollar REDD scheme. I don’t know about you, but I think it’s worth pointing out the risks involved in all this. Now re-read number 3 on the list:

    “REDD forest definitions can encourage plantation forestry (Sasaki and Putz, 2009), leading to mono-cropping and food insecurity.”

  16. “REDD forest definitions can encourage plantation forestry, leading to mono-cropping and food insecurity” – Can you please clarify this statement? Are talking about REDD+?

  17. @Thales West (#16) – There’s a reference to Sasaki and Putz, 2009 – which is discussed here: REDD will fail with the current definition of “forest”.

    See also the last two paragraphs of comment #15 above.

    The problem is that without a clear definition of what a forest is (one that excludes industrial tree plantations, or fails to recognise the importance of secondary forests) it could be possible to convert forests to plantations and claim REDD financing.

    This is addressed (weakly) by a safeguard in annex 1 paragraph 2(e) in the Cancun Agreement which states that:

    Actions are consistent with the conservation of natural forests and biological diversity, ensuring that actions referred to in paragraph 70 of this decision are not used for the conversion of natural forests, but are instead used to incentivize the protection and conservation of natural forests and their ecosystem services, and to enhance other social and environmental benefits; [1]


    [1] Taking into account the need for sustainable livelihoods of indigenous peoples and local communities and their interdependence on forests in most countries, reflected in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, as well as the International Mother Earth Day.

    However, as with all the “safeguards” in annex 1 this paragraph is only to be “promoted and supported”. How this works in practice, and what happens if governments are in breach of this and other safeguards, remains to be seen.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>