FIELD: The purpose of this guide is to assist developing country negotiators and others who are working on REDD-plus*. FIELD provides this information on a neutral basis. The guide is available in English, French and Spanish. Electronic versions can be found at www.field.org.uk
This version has been updated in February 2013. Please note that final versions of documents from the Doha Climate Change
Conference were not available at the time of writing, so the guide includes advance or draft versions in part III.
REDD-plus is a very complicated issue. It is complicated technically. It is complicated politically.
Although many countries are interested in reaching agreement on REDD-plus they also have
different priorities and different views on key issues in the negotiations.
The negotiations on REDD-plus have complicated links with several other issues that are also under
negotiation, which can make it difficult to maintain an overview and keep up with the implications of
FIELD is grateful to the Forum
on Readiness for REDD and support from the Norwegian Agency for
Development Cooperation (Norad), which made this update of the guide possible.
The guide is divided into three parts:
Part I considers REDD-plus and related issues in the negotiations
Part II contains general negotiating tips for new REDD-plus negotiators and others
Part III contains UNFCCC documents that may be referred to in REDD-plus negotiations
REDD-plus (“reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries;
and the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon
stocks in developing countries”) originates from a proposal by Papua New Guinea and Costa Rica in
2005. With the support of a group of other countries they proposed a new agenda item on reducing
emissions from deforestation in developing countries at the Eleventh Conference of the Parties (COP
11) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Montreal, Canada.
Many countries were very interested in the proposal, which offered an opportunity to reduce
emissions while protecting forests and generating financial resources for developing countries. The
Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) was asked to consider the issue and
several in- depth workshops also took place over the next couple of years. In 2007 COP 13 adopted
the “Bali Action Plan”, which provided the initial basis for negotiations on REDD-plus.
Financing of REDD-plus is one of the key issues in the negotiations. Some countries, for example
Australia and New Zealand, have argued for reliance on carbon markets, while other countries, in
particular Bolivia, do not favour market approaches. Countries recognize that public funding will be
needed initially to build capacity to implement REDD-plus activities in developing countries.
Other negotiations about financing are also under way, for example in relation to the Green Climate
Fund, which may affect REDD-plus financing.
There has been broad support for a phased approach to REDD-plus, as confirmed by COP decisions
(see below and part III of this guide). This starts with readiness activities, followed by
implementation of policies and measures and for example results-based demonstration activities,
finally moving on to results-based REDD-plus actions, which need to be fully measured, reported and
verified. “MRV” or “measuring, reporting and verifying” will be very important for confidence in
Other issues in the negotiations have included the scale of REDD-plus and whether sub-national
activities should be allowed. Colombia for example has argued in favour of allowing sub-national
REDD- plus actions. Parties have agreed that sub-national REDD-plus activities may take place on an
The scope of REDD-plus – what range of activities it should cover – has also been a subject of
negotiations (for example, should REDD-plus be expanded in the long term to cover other land
Determination of forest reference emission levels and forest reference levels is a key issue, as is the
related question of what will be used as a baseline for receiving financial benefits. The exact
definitions of “forest reference emission level” and “forest reference level” are not clear and
countries have different understandings of what they mean, so usually both are referred to at the
The involvement of indigenous peoples and local communities has been a major issue in the
negotiations on “safeguards”, ie provisions to for example protect native forests from being
converted into plantations and to protect the rights of indigenous peoples. Parties have also raised
the importance of strengthening forest governance and the importance of co-benefits from REDD-
One reason why the negotiations on REDD-plus are complicated is that they have links with several
other issues under negotiation, for example financing, negotiations about market-based
mechanisms and negotiations about Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs). There is
growing recognition of the need to take these links into account in the negotiations.
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