The Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI) Ninth Dialogue on Forests, Governance and Climate Change

DTE 88, April 2011

Key areas of debate on COP16 and REDD+

On 8 February 2011, DTE joined 140 participants who gathered in London for the ninth Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI) Dialogue on Forests, Governance and Climate Change.[1]The RRI Dialogues aim to provide a forum for decision makers and civil society organisations to discuss critically the role of forests in the climate change agenda. The event was co-organised byForests Peoples Programme (FPP), Forest Trends and Tebtebba(Indigenous Peoples’ International Centre for Policy Researchand Education),and attracted participantsfrom various sectors across the world including civil society organisations, academia, the privatesector and government.

The Ninth Dialogue focused in particular on the sixteenthConference of the Parties (COP 16) to the UN FrameworkConvention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) that took placein Cancún, Mexico, in late 2010. It aimed to encourage critical reflection on thedevelopments on rights and REDD+ (see box),the role of forest restoration and reforestation for climate mitigation and adaptation, and formulating more coherent safeguards and recourse mechanisms for communities in REDD+ programmes.[2]

The conference was organised into four panel sessions, with discussions focusing on:

  1. The global implications for forests andpeople of the Cancún Agreement on Long-term CooperativeAction  (see box)
  2. National- and communitylevelimplications of the Cancún Agreement;
  3. Ensuring thatREDD+  complements restoration, poverty alleviation andadaptation;
  4. Promoting and operationalising safeguards andaccountability.

This article aims to highlight just some of the key themes and contrasting views which emerged during the conference: finance and the roles of markets; governance and funding; safeguards, standards and accountability.[3]

The Cancun Agreement on Long-term Cooperative Action (LCA)

The  LCA (Decision 1/CP.16) was one of the two main outcomes of the Conference of Parties 16 (COP 16) in Cancun, Mexico, 2010 (the other being the Cancun Agreement on Annex I Parties’ Further Commitments under the Kyoto Protocol (Decision 1/CMP.6).

The LCA aims to establish a timeline for finalising a new, comprehensive agreement that would include action by ALL parties on all the various aspects of the Bali Action Plan, agreed in 2007.

For more information visit:


What is the difference between REDD and REDD+?

The key difference between REDD and REDD+ is that REDD+ includes the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks – with a key aim to support ‘pro-poor’ development.

REDD+  recognises that “full engagement and respect for the rights of Indigenous Peoples and other forest-dependent communities” is essential for maintaining the resilience of  forest ecosystems and consequently, resilience to climate change can be improved.  These ‘multiple benefits’ are a key defining character of REDD + and lie at the core of strategic development and implementation of REDD+ programmes.

For more information visit: 


Funding, finance and the role of markets

The CopenhagenAccord noted “the need for a collective commitment by developed countries to provideresources for REDD ‘approaching US$30 billion’for 2010-2012, anda goal of US$100 billion annually by 2020”[4]. Governments across the world are faced with immense challenges to ‘fill the gap’ between this total and what they are actually willing to commit to ensure funding is secured and used effectively.

From the government, finance and business sector perspectives the financing gap for REDD+ can and should be filled by the private sector.[5]Public funding should be used to stimulate markets and mobilise private sector investment through initiatives such as London’s Capital Markets Climate Initiative[6](which is initially focusing onprojects in sub-SaharanAfrica).

Although it considers investment from the private sector an effective way of providing a more sustainable form of funding than government finance, the UK government stressed that the nature and sources of private finance needs to be clarified.

Capacity building and early engagement with the private sector, supported by setting up partnerships between the public and private sector (including civil society organisations such as RRI) were considered vital elements for ensuring buy-in from the private sector.[7]Establishing the correct price for carbon was regarded to be of“critical” importance.[8]Setting government targets will be essential for establishing a valid carbon price and setting up carbon market ‘products’ such as carbon forest bonds.[9]The improvement of safeguards and standardswas considered important for removing market uncertainty.

The UK Government recognised the significant challenges faced by multilateral funds to distribute money in a way that makes a differenceon the ground, and concluded that forthcoming technical workon common standards andperformancewould be welcomed.[10]Equally, clarity regarding ‘additionality’ (wherecarbon gains would not have happened without a carbon paymentvia a specific scheme)is regarded important for ensuring indigenous people benefit from REDD+.[11]The government welcomed the Green Climate Fund[12]but recognised challenges in establishing how the funding process would be implemented, and in addressing the lack of trust in the market system amongst communities. It was suggested that the creation of REDD+ carbon markets should follow the establishment of safeguards to avoid the risk that amarketmechanism might result in destruction of the social capitaland distortion ofindigenouspeoples’ management structureand rights[13].



Governance challenges relating to forest management, REDD+ and the CancúnAgreement were broadly recognized. Understanding the needs and wishes of people on the ground, and establishing appropriate systems and methodologies for doing so emerged as an area which requires significant further work. Participants presented opposing opinions regarding the degree to which challenges of governance are being effectively addressed, and the amount of political will to address the issues.

The UK Governmentregarded as imperative the need for good governance and regulatory frameworks in developing countries and stated that ’stronger conversations’ with forest communities on the ground will be essential. It recognised the need to maintain livelihoods for forest-dwelling communities and develop a clear understanding offorest governance and wider land-use planning issues. It is anticipated this will require government to work closely with forest-dwelling communities through multilateral and bi-lateral programmes to establish stronger relationships, as well as establishing an official review process with key stakeholders and the establishment ofsub-national implementation systems. It raised concerns about lack of clarity regarding resource distribution and ownership, and how this poses significant challenges in identifying carbon rights and ownership of carbon.

A representative from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) outlinedthe UNDP’s existing work to develop participatory governance assessmentsand a guidance framework for monitoring REDD+ governance. This work contributes to the UNFCCC’s Subsidiary Body for Scientificand Technological Advice (SBSTA) to identifydrivers of deforestation anddegradation.[14]

The degree to which indigenous peoples’ rights are being respected was a point of contention throughout the discussions. A World Bank representative arguedthat many of theREDD+ elements of the Cancún Agreement revolve aroundindigenous peoples’ rights.[15]  In contrast, representatives of the civil society movement presented a more critical assessment ofa growing gap between the rhetoric and the reality of what is happening on the ground[16]and lack of understanding regarding rights at the national level. [17]Indigenous peoples must be recognised as agentsof good governance [18]and a clear definition and appreciation of ‘participatory governance’ is needed, according to an indigenous participant.[19]

Some civil society representatives expressed concern that the large amounts of money being invested in REDD will not reach the people who will be directly affected on the ground[20].  It is important that context specific and community-led considerations continue to drive REDD+ and its links with climate change adaptation practices locally. Property rights and women’s access to land; reform of forestrysystems; and greater clarity on funding mechanisms, includingaccess to fundswere regarded as key areas to address if REDD+ and poverty alleviation are to be effectively addressed[21]. The challenge lies in ensuring that national frameworks do not obstruct opportunities for local communities to ‘self-manage’[22]. One participant warned government of the risks in outsourcing technicalwork, includingwork onemission measuring, reporting and verification of emissions (MRV)[23].

Concerns were raised regarding ‘conflicting demands’ from governments; indigenous peoples are expected to protect forests and reduceclimate change, but also impose massive extractive projectson communities.  The inclusion of indigenous people in decision making processes was considered weak amongst some civil society representatives. Even where indigenous delegates participate in negotiations, it is felt that these voices are often not heard[24].  This was compounded by theabsence of a referencein the Cancún Agreement to Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) forindigenous peoples[25].The power of FPIC to strengthen reference to land tenurewas recommended as a point of focus for further international attention[26].


Safeguard, standards and accountability

There was general agreement on the need to design and implement effective safeguardsand to set appropriate standards foraccountability.Overall, representatives from government, private sector and international organisations spoke positively about the potential and recent progress made towards establishing more effective safeguards.  Contrasting viewsemerged from civil society representatives who questioned the ability of the Cancún Agreement, governments and international organisations (such as the World Bank) to ensure accountability in the private sector, and to enforce appropriate standards and safeguards in the interests of indigenous rights and welfare.

The UK government [27]stressed that the clear focus on safeguards was a key, positive outcome of Cancún. To improve accountability, more explicit detail is needed on the motives and intentions of private sector engagement in REDD+ schemes.  The government recognised that although setting standards is essential this may have to happen outside the United Nations.

A representative of the financial sector highlighted the importance of encouraging private sector engagement in the design and enforcement ofsafeguards, development of appropriate standards and addressing accounting[28].

In contrast, civil society organisations expressed concern regarding the effectiveness of guarantees for indigenous safeguards. [29]Reference was made to a recently published report by FERN and Forest Peoples Programme, Smoke and Mirrors,[30]which analyses eight of the Readiness Preparedness Plans (RPPs)[31]submitted to the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF). The report states that rather than strengthening and implementing the Bank’s safeguards, many safeguardsare being diluted or obfuscated.[32]Respect for rights to Free, Prior and Informed Consent within the existing FCPF policies and World Bank safeguards is regarded by some civil society representatives as inadequate.[33]One participant stated that a lack of respect for the role of indigenous peoples and their rights to territories has led to conflict in several countries such as Peru. Here, indigenous peoples have strongly criticised government plans for REDD because they fail to address land conflicts and outstanding territorial claims.[34]  Trust in the effectiveness of safeguards has been further undermined by the absence ofFPIC for indigenous peoples in the CancúnAgreement.[35]

To deliver positive outcomes for forests, people and climate change, indigenous participation in the design and implementation of REDD+ initiatives, security of land rights, and courage to address corruption and weak governance in the forest sectorare considered essential.[36]Participants warned that failure to do so could increase forest loss and undermine people’s tenure rights.[37]Mexico was cited as a ‘good practice’ example of REDD+ implementation. Mexico’s positive reception of REDD+ was attributed to relative security of indigenous peoples’ property rights and other institutional conditions, all of which contributed to the REDD ‘readiness’[38]of the country.[39]

Building the ‘social mechanism’ within REDD frameworks is essential for encouraging involvement and ownership on the ground.[40]Several participants felt that, when supported by the security of clear property rights, REDD+presents a good opportunity for communities to build ‘social capital’ and a solid platform on which to combine and organise policies.[41]This requires recognition of the differing abilities, training and educational level within communities – and respect for existing knowledge and skills. As new forest management systems are being developed in order to deliver the ‘multiple benefits’ demanded by REDD+, government ministries must ensure that old forest management practices continue to be valued within that process.[42]

The RRI 9th Dialogue conference provided a crucial snapshot of work being done across the world to prepare for REDD+.  It is clear however, that there remains a wide gulf between communities and critical civil society organisations on the one hand, and government and the private sector on the other over funding, FPIC, safeguards and governance. Balancing goals for reducing emissions and forest loss, while respecting human rights, continues to present moral and financial challenges. The conference highlighted that decision-makers must urgently address issues of land tenure and carbon rights, governance and corruption, and ensure adequate safeguards for marginalised stakeholders,in order to avoid the realrisk of fuelling and exacerbating conflicts and undermining fundamental REDD+ goals.

For more background on REDD and REDD in Indonesia see DTE 84.



[1]The RRI is “a strategic coalition of international, regional and community organizations engaged in development, research and conservation.”. see:

[2]  Rights and Resources Initiative Dialogue Bulletin: A Summary Report of the Ninth Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI) Dialogue on Forests, Governance and Climate Change. Published by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) in collaboration with the Rights and Resources Initiative. Available online at Volume 173, number 3, Wednesday, 9 February 2011

[3]This article is based on notes taken while attending the conference,  supported by information from the RRI’s Summary Report of the Ninth Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI) Dialogue onForests, Governance and Climate Change. For a more comprehensive report of the conference and the views of all the participants, visit For ‘A Brief History of the RRI Dialogues and UNFCCC in Relation to REDD+’ see page one of the report.

[4]As above, p2

[5]David Capper, Head of Climate Finance, Institutions and Forests, UK Department of Energy and Climate Change; Gregory Barker, Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change, UK; Abyd Karmali, ManagingDirector and Global Headof Carbon Emissions, Bankof America Merrill Lynch

[6]For more information on The Capitals Market Climate Initiative visit:

[7]Adyd Karmali (as above)

[8]Andreas Dahl-Jørgensen, advisor for Norway’s InternationalClimate and Forest Initiative(RRI conference panellist)

[9]David Capper (as above). For more information on forest bonds, visit

[10]David Capper (as above)

[11]Onel Masardule, Executive Director, Foundation forPromotion of Indigenous Knowledge, Kuna Peoples, Panama (RRI conference panellist)

[12]The Green Climate Fund (GCF) was established at COP 16, December 2010, to be designated as an operating entity of the financial mechanism of the Convention under Article 11. The GCF aims to support projects, programmes, policies and other activities in developing countries, For more information visit:

[13]RRI conference summary report, p4; Onel Marsardule (as above)

[14]Tim Clairs, Senior Technical Advisor, UN-REDD,Environment and Energy Group, UNDP(RRI conference panellist)

[15]Charles DiLeva, Chief Counsel, Climate Change,Sustainable Development and International Law, World Bank(RRI conference panellist)

[16]Saskia Ozinga, Coordinator, FERN; Onel Marsardule (as above) 

[17]Victoria Tauli-Corpuz,  Executive Director, Tebtebba,  Chairperson of the United Nations Permanent Form on Indigenous Issues (and a Philippinesdelegate in the REDD+negotiations in Cancún) (RRI conference panelist)

[18]Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, (as above)

[19] Victoria Tauli-Corpuz (as above)

[20]Onel Masardule (as above); Saskia Ozinga (as above)

[21]Cecile Njdébet, Director, Cameroon Ecology(RRI conference panellist)

[22]Florence Daviet, Co-Manager, Governance of ForestsInitiative, World Resources Initiative(RRI conference panellist)

[23]Tony La Viña, Dean, Ateneo School of Government,Philippines(RRI conference panellist)

[24]Onel Masardule (as above)

[25]Onel Marsadule (as above)

[26]Kristen Hite, Attorney, ClimateChange Program, Centre for International Environmental Law(RRI conference guest speaker)

[27]David Capper (as above)

[28]Abyd Karmali (as above)

[29]Onel Masardule (as above); Victoria Tauli-Corpuz

[30]Dooley, K., Griffiths, S.,Martone, F., and Ozinga, T. 2011. Smoke and Mirrors: A critical assessment of the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility. FERN & Forest Peoples Programme. Available online at:

[31]A Readiness Preparedness Proposal (R-PP) is a document that will set out the steps and‘minimum requirements’ for a country to achieve ‘Readiness’. For more information see Smoke and Mirrors: A critical assessment of the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility. FERN & Forest Peoples Programme. Page 85. Available online at:

[32]Saskia Ozinga (as above); Smoke and Mirrors report (as above)

[33]Saskia Ozinga (as above)

[34]Chris Lang. March 2011. Smoke and Mirrors: A critical assessment of the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility. Available online at:

[35]Onel Marsardule (as above)

[36]Onel Masardule; Saskia Ozinga; Victoria Taili-Corpuz (all as above)

[37]Saskia Ozinga (as above)

[38]  REDD-Readiness is a national strategy to prepare countries to execute REDD activities and manage REDD funding

[39]Andy White, RRI Coordinator (RRI conference chair) ; Juan Maunel Torres-Rojo, Mexico’s NationalForestry Commission Director General (RRI conference panellist)

[40]Juan Manuel Torres Rojo(as above)

[41]Juan Manuel Torres Rojo (as above)

[42]Tony La Viña (as above)