Governance for REDD+, forest management and biodiversity: existing approaches and future options

McDermott, Constance L; van Asselt, Harro; Streck, Charlotte; Assembe Mvondo, Samuel; Duchelle, Amy E.; Haug, Constanze; Humphreys, David; Mulyani, Mari; Shekhar Silori, Chandra; Suzuki, Regan; Zelli, Fariborz; Frick, Simone; Lentini, Marco; Luintel, Harisharan and Salimon, Cleber (2012). Governance for REDD+, forest management and biodiversity: existing approaches and future options. In: Parrotta, John A.; Wildburger, Christoph and Mansourian, Stephanie eds. Understanding Relationships between Biodiversity, Carbon, Forests and People: The Key to Achieving REDD+ Objectives. A Global Assessment Report. IUFRO World Series (31). Vienna: International Union of Forest Research Organisations, pp. 115–137.



This chapter examines the evolution of REDD+ governance and identifies policy options to increase synergies among REDD+, the sustainable management of forests and biodiversity conservation. REDD+ emerged at the international level as a point of convergemnce acorss the 'institutional complexes' of forests, climate and biodiversity. This convergence attracted the engagement of a wide range of institutions in REDD+ activities, which together have drawn on three primary sources of authority to influence REDD+ rule-making: government sovereignty, contingent finance and voluntary carbon markets.

Intergovernmental processes, which represent the primary articulation of governmental authority at the global level, have generated few binding commitments to the sustainable management of forests or biodiversity due to conflicting country interests. These efforts instead have favoured normative guidance, monitoring and reporting, and legality verification initiatives that reinforce sovereign authority. Bilateral and multi-lateral finance initiatives have exerted ‘fund-based’ authority through the application of operational safeguards protecting indigenous and local communities and biodiversity, but limited funding and low capacity of REDD+ countries to absorb those funds have constrained their influence. Finally, non-state actors have developed voluntary certification schemes for forest and carbon as a ’fast track’ approach to elaborating more substantive international standards for environmentally- and socially-responsible forest practices. While the small size and voluntary nature of markets for forest carbon have greatly constrained the impact of these approaches, this could change if a significant regulatory market for REDD+ develops.

Furthermore, the governance of REDD+, forest management and biodiversity is pluralistic, involving multiple institutions and actors. Efforts to promote REDD+ safeguarding at the international level exist in tension with national sovereignty and local autonomy. This complexity is taken into consideration in the suite of policy options provided in this chapter, which suggest the need to draw on a range of institutions and approaches and to consider how together they influence the balance of power and incentives across actors and scales.

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