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Benefit Sharing for REDD+: Questions countries are asking

Neeta HoodaContributed by Neeta Hooda, Senior Carbon Finance Specialist at the World Bank

The concept of REDD+ is based on the idea of paying tropical countries or communities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, and to conserve, sustainably manage, and enhance forest carbon stocks. However the modalities for determining “who gets what” are still unclear.  The Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF), a global partnership based at the World Bank, recently organized three knowledge exchange sessions, held in a videoconferencing format, for participants from 13 countries engaged in discussions around this issue of benefit sharing. The countries spanned East Asia as well as Francophone and Anglophone Africa, and brought a wealth of perspectives to this issue. PROFOR’s recently completed analysis on Making Benefit Sharing Arrangements Work for Forest-Dependent Communities provided valuable background and guidance.

Some of the sessions’ more interesting discussions included: 

  • Who should benefit? It can be difficult to determine which households contribute to emission reductions and which ones do not.  There are criteria and processes that can help identify beneficiaries: see FAQs on Benefit Sharing Note 2: Key Considerations for Benefit Sharing (pdf file).
  • Should incentives be provided only to those who contribute to slowing deforestation or should incentives be distributed more broadly to motivate others and achieve more impact? Participants pointed to the fact that providing incentives to the community as whole may be more practical but would likely reward “non performers.”
  • What to do about land tenure. Clarifying land and tree tenure is a priority for most countries aiming to disentangle issues surrounding carbon rights.
  • Ensuring consistency between policy frameworks and benefit sharing arrangements. Participants from different countries spoke about the challenge of ensuring that the legislative framework supports governance and benefit sharing. This discussion reflected the fact that many countries are experimenting with different benefit sharing arrangements at a project level and are wrestling with how to scale them up to a national level. (See FAQs on Benefit Sharing Note 3: Mechanisms for Sharing Benefits.)
  • Uncertainties in the global framework for REDD+ were also evoked. There were questions regarding the amount of revenue that countries could expect from carbon markets and other sources. Benefit sharing systems and mechanisms would need to be commensurate with the scale of these payments. Knowing the likely scale of performance-based payments could send a strong signal that revitalizes fledgling benefit sharing systems.

Overall it was encouraging to see that countries that are busy getting ready for REDD+ are already thinking of the next set of challenges and taking steps to move the discussions forward.

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