The Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+) initiative has a potentially large role to play in international actions to combat climate change. Sustainable management of forests and forest carbon stocks does more than just preserve the world’s forests and sequester atmospheric carbon – it provides long-term sustainability and economic development built upon stabilized and enriched soils, increased biodiversity and heightened food, water and energy security. So, where do REDD+ and green economy fit into the conversation on integrated landscape management?
REDD+ represents a tangible approach to climate change mitigation that is already being implemented by some progressive governments and businesses around the world. This initiative is one way to transition towards an economic development model that takes environmental sustainability and ecosystem services into consideration. This so called green economy approach uses REDD+ to develop and build upon existing natural capital. Countries like Indonesia aspire to bring these two paradigms together with guidance from a new report on “Building Natural Capital: How REDD+ can Support a Green Economy.”
The report, launching on the 2014 International Day of Forests, is a collaborative project of the United Nations Environment Programme’s International Resource Panel (IRP) Working Group on REDD+ and a Green Economy. The Working Group, co-chaired by EcoAgriculture Partners’ co-founder Jeff McNeely, represents an integrated approach to one of the world’s most important cross-cutting issues in action. Expert economists, foresters and social scientists worked together to craft this roadmap that points the way forward for a variety of stakeholders including governments, individuals and organizations. REDD+ is just one of many tools that may bring these diverse users together to affect meaningful change from the local to global level.
For REDD+ to successfully contribute to the development of green economies and mitigation of climate change, improved forest governance and policies that integrate economic development and forest cover must be implemented. Developed countries need to find the $30 billion per year to support REDD+ efforts around the world. And while this may sound like an astronomical amount, the report notes that “compared to the US $480 billion per year currently spent on fossil fuel subsidies,” REDD+ is not asking for much.
The global benefits of carbon capture are clear, but “Building Natural Capital” goes one step further to explore the need for REDD+ to address the local socio-economic costs of environmental degradation and deforestation for more equitable benefits. REDD+ for a green economy may serve as a good complement to existing pro-poor strategies because these communities rely directly on healthy trees and forests for their sustenance and livelihoods.
Forests are part of the larger landscape and need to be managed with the smallholder agriculturalists, foresters and landholders in mind. Collaboration across traditionally compartmentalized development and planning efforts, levels of governance and across the private and public sector are needed to realize benefits of REDD+ from the landscape to global scale. How might REDD+ and green economy efforts impact hardworking smallholders and their lands at the local level?
Photo: Neil Palmer, CIAT on Flickr