Our Common Future Under Climate Change

International Scientific Conference 7-10 JULY 2015 Paris, France

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Wednesday 8 July - 14:30-16:00 UNESCO Fontenoy - ROOM II

2219 (a) - Politics and numbers: Political and technical challenges in reducing emissions from forests with REDD+

Parallel Session

Lead Convener(s): C. Martius (Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), Bogor, Indonesia)

Convener(s): M. Deheza (CDC Climat Research, Paris, France)


The Warsaw Framework for REDD+: Implications for national implementation

C. Voigt (University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway), F. Ferreira (Ministério das Relações Exteriores, Brasília, DF, Brazil)

Abstract details
The Warsaw Framework for REDD+: Implications for national implementation

C. Voigt (1) ; F. Ferreira (2)
(1) University of Oslo, Public and International Law, Oslo, Norway; (2) Ministério das Relações Exteriores, Divisão de Clima, Ozônio e Segurança Química, Brasília, DF, Brazil

Abstract content

The adoption of the Warsaw Framework for REDD+ (WFR)[1] in 2013 has to a large extent concluded negotiations on REDD+ under the UNFCCC. Together with previous decisions, the WFR sets the requirements for developing countries to access results-based finance for mitigation actions in the forest sector, while attributing to the Green Climate Fund a "key role" among the entities channeling results-based finance to REDD+.

This article describes the WFR and indicates some of its implications for the implementation of REDD+ in developing countries. Rather than a commentary of each decision, it outlines the WFR from the perspective of measuring, reporting and verification (MRV) processes for REDD+ actions and access to results-based payments. The WFR has further centralized these processes. Such centralization has implications for the implementation of REDD+, in particular for those actors who favored a decentralized and/or subnational approach.

Centralization in this context means a concentration of procedures under the accountability of a national authority - one of the main innovations generated by the WFR. By linking the REDD+ MRV process to national reporting obligations under the UNFCCC and related procedures, it is the national government (i.e. the UNFCCC Party) that ultimately assumes accountability for REDD+ results to the international community.

Furthermore, by creating a national entity or national focal point, the WFR attributes to developing countries the prerogative to determine who is authorized to obtain and receive results-based payments on their behalf. The centralization under the WFR, therefore, goes considerably beyond the national, “border-to-border” approach to implementation and MRV of REDD+ activities. Centralization may, in fact, lead to increased accountability as it implies that there is a responsible national entity and that implementation and results of REDD+ activities will be/should be aligned with other obligations under the UNFCCC, such as national communications and inventories. This, in turn, requires increasing the level of inter-agency coordination and collaboration among the multiple stakeholders involved with implementing REDD+ activities.

Such an approach also increases transparency and coordination of actions and support through the use of an info hub and the application of the same guidelines and methodologies for all activities seeking results-based finance for REDD+ activities.

The objective of this paper is to stress that the UNFCCC has adopted a centralized approach at the national level. This may require adjusting national strategies and the relationship among actors at the national level in order to obtain results-based finance. This message, we believe, has not yet reached many stakeholders implementing REDD+, resulting in several initiatives currently being labeled as REDD+ which may not be in accordance with the multilaterally agreed rules.

The oral presentation will be structured in the following way:

1. Brief introduction to the WFR

2. Results-based finance for REDD+ activities and the requirements to obtain such

3. The MRV process

4. The roles of the National Entity/National Focal Point and the Green Climate Fund in accessing results based payments

5. The importance of the WFR for national implementation: identification of (actual/potential) effects and implications


[1] The WFR consists of decisions 9-15/CP.19.


The REDD+ policy arena and the politics of numbers and information sharing

M. Brockhaus (CIFOR, Bogor, Indonesia), A. Angelsen (Norwegian University of Life Sciences, As, Norway), G. M. Di (University of Leeds, Leeds, United Kingdom)

Abstract details
The REDD+ policy arena and the politics of numbers and information sharing

M. Brockhaus (1) ; A. Angelsen (2) ; GM. Di (3)
(1) CIFOR, Bogor, Indonesia; (2) Norwegian University of Life Sciences, School of economics and business, As, Norway; (3) University of Leeds, Leeds, United Kingdom

Abstract content

Forests are an integral part of the international climate mitigation agenda. Transformational change beyond the forestry sector is required to realize the mitigation potential from avoided deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+).  In the envisioned REDD+ architecture, payments will be made for carbon and non-carbon results, which need to be measured, reported and verified (MRV). Highly technical information needs to be translated into financial action. Information and information sharing are key features in REDD+ far beyond the MRV of carbon and co-benefits. In addition, dense webs of political actors and economic interests come to the forefront as countries become "ready for REDD+".

Evidence-based policy design and formulation aims at devising policies based on rigorous and objective information (Petrosino et al. 2001). While a factual basis is crucial, decision making is inherently a political process, and the outcome of procedural and technical policy solutions are affected by power relation in the relevant policy arena. Multiple actors, both governmental and non-governmental, with their multiple interests, bargain and negotiate to formulate public policies, often in network structures formed around their interests. Such a process may not produce optimal outcomes (Peskett and Brockhaus 2009, Moog et al 2012 conference paper, Brockhaus and Angelsen 2012). National REDD+ policy processes should be understood as negotiated political processes, with politics and political economy aspects being critical for the outcomes. Effective, efficient and equitable (3E) outcomes are then constrained or enabled by the political conditions which are contextual to the specific country and REDD+ policy domain. To understand the constraints and opportunities in policy processes, design and implementation, we have to recognize the political nature on these processes.

This paper deals with a particular aspect of the politics of numbers in REDD+, namely how information, measures and numbers are produced and used to support specific views on what REDD+ should look like. In particular, we investigate: (1) what are existing procedures for information sharing, (2) who holds information and has to be consulted in REDD+ policy design and implementation, and (3) which institutional and actor-related factors enable or hamper evidence-driven definition, measurement and reporting as well as diffusion of numbers and information across the REDD+ policy arena.

We draw on the “4I” framework developed in Brockhaus and Angelsen (2012), and investigate how institutional stickiness, as well as actors’ ideas and interests interact with the fourth I in the REDD+ arena, information, and how this affects the potential for transformational change required to realise REDD+ outcomes. We present results from a global comparative research project (GCS) undertaken by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) since 2009 in 14 countries in Africa (Burkina Faso, Cameroon, DRC, Ethiopia, Mozambique, and Tanzania), Latin America (Brazil, Bolivia, and Peru), and Asia-Pacific (Indonesia, Nepal, Laos, Papua New Guinea, and Vietnam). The comparative analysis is based among other elements on country-level analyses of  the drivers of deforestation, and the institutional and political economy context in which REDD+ policies are being designed, a media based discourse analysis, a policy network analysis, and a content analysis of REDD+ policy documents. All these elements were designed for comparative analysis through the development of extensive guidelines (for an overview on methods and specific guidelines see Brockhaus and Di Gregorio 2012; Brockhaus et al 2012; Di Gregorio et al 2012).

Our findings indicate that despite the increasing levels of investments in countries’ MRV systems, as well as analysis, knowledge and early lessons from ongoing REDD+ policy processes, there is still limited understanding and in consequence, limited action for curtailing the impact of politics on numbers and information on effectiveness, efficiency and equity of a REDD+ mechanism, and what factors would enable effective information sharing. In addition, our evidence indicates limited political will and interest in “getting the numbers right”, and that data insecurity and lack of clarity may serve then as a justification for inaction.


Politics of numbers in REDD+: the case of reference levels

A. Angelsen (Norwegian University of Life Sciences, As, Norway), M. Brockhaus (CIFOR, Bogor, Indonesia), H. A. Teklay (Norwegian University of Life Sciences, As, Norway)

Abstract details
Politics of numbers in REDD+: the case of reference levels

A. Angelsen (1) ; M. Brockhaus (2) ; HA. Teklay (1)
(1) Norwegian University of Life Sciences, School of economics and business, As, Norway; (2) CIFOR, Bogor, Indonesia

Abstract content

Designing and implementing REDD+ assumes quantification of past and current carbon emissions, constructing a counterfactual future scenario for emissions (i.e. the reference level - RL), as well as indicators for (change in) non-carbon benefits. Most REDD+ countries are characterized by a poor data foundation for undertaking such quantifications, resulting in high uncertainties. In addition, choices have to be made related to what exactly should be measured (including the definition of what constitute a “forest”), the approach to measuring the selected variables (e.g. scope, quality standards), and how the data should be independently verified.

This lack and uncertainty of relevant data creates a fertile ground for “gaming”, defined as the manipulation of data for own benefits. “Gaming” does not imply fabricating data (although that might happen too), but rather processes where the unavoidable choices in data generation are heavily influenced by self-interests. Different stakeholders have different interests in what to be measured, the magnitude of the selected variables, and how the variables should be measured and verified. The most obvious example is how to set the RL in a result-based system: a high RL will give higher estimated emissions reductions and thereby higher payments to those assigned the rights to sell emission reductions. Even without payments, the RL provides a benchmark for measuring the performance of projects and policies, with the credibility and reputation of NGOs, donors and governments being at stake. More generally, what is being measured shapes the political agenda and how different interests are being balanced in the political process. What is being counted counts.

We hypothesize that the degree and nature of gaming with numbers depends on both the underlying uncertainty, the extent and quality of the existing data base, the stakes at play, the informal constraints set by the political environment (e.g. transparent and critical debates), and the formal process for generation and verification of data. We use the RLs in REDD+ as our empirical case, and review RL proposals submitted to UNFCCC by key REDD+ countries. While UNFCCC provides general guidelines for setting RLs, scope for systematic biases of RL exist in the definition of forest, reference period for historical deforestation, adjustments for national circumstances, activities included, pools included, and the emission factors applied. 


Are REDD+ subnational initiatives protecting and improving the wellbeing of local stakeholders?

W. Sunderlin (Center for International Forestry Research, Bogor, Indonesia), C. De Sassi (CIFOR, Bogor, Indonesia)

Abstract details
Are REDD+ subnational initiatives protecting and improving the wellbeing of local stakeholders?

W. Sunderlin (1) ; SC. De (2)
(1) Center for International Forestry Research, Forest and Livelihoods, Bogor, Indonesia; (2) CIFOR, Forests and livelihoods, Bogor, Indonesia

Abstract content

REDD+ aims to restrict forest-based greenhouse gas emissions and increase removals.  In REDD+ subnational initiatives, this is to be achieved in part by restricting forest access and conversion (negative incentive) and by protecting and improving the wellbeing of local stakeholders (positive incentive).  One of the main means to achieve the latter is to produce a reward stream large enough to compensate the opportunity cost of forgone forest conversion, and to deliver it to stakeholders on condition that they successfully protect and enhance local forests (performance-based mechanism).  Success in protecting and improving wellbeing is not a foregone conclusion, among other reasons because the most forest-dependent households are those most vulnerable to restrictions on access and conversion, because it has been challenging to produce the large and reliable stream of funding initially envisioned for REDD+, because (for lack of a strong performance-based mechanism) subnational initiatives have been placing strong reliance on non-conditional incentives, because organizations establishing REDD+ on the ground have found it difficult to create an appropriate tenure foundation that reinforces or stimulates forest stewardship while providing effective rights of exclusion to protect forests against outside claims, and because of the technical challenge of establishing effective MRV systems.

This presentation examines the performance of REDD+ in protecting and improving the wellbeing of local stakeholders on the basis of evidence in six countries, encompassing 22 subnational initiatives, 150 villages, and 4,200 households.  Half the villages and households are inside and half are outside REDD+ initiatives, enabling robust comparison.  Socioeconomic household data were collected at two points in time (2010-2011 and then 2013-2014) enabling longitudinal comparison of the effects of various kinds of interventions.  The household data are both objective (e.g. income, assets) and subjective (respondent perception of the causes of wellbeing change over time).  Data were collected on the full range of REDD+ interventions, including restrictions on forest access and conversion, forest enhancement, tenure clarification, environmental education, conditional and non-conditional livelihood incentives, and others.

Among the findings are that REDD+ negative incentives have a noticeable effect on forest-dependent households.  This is because of high average dependence on agriculture and on clearing forests through shifting cultivation to maintain soil fertility and create new farmlands.  Given the high dependence on agriculture, the perceived reasons for improved and worsening wellbeing relate strongly to the covariate fortunes and misfortunes of weather (sufficiency of rain, drought, etc.) and crop and livestock abundance and survival.  REDD+ (with considerable variation among initiatives) does have a measurable effect on wellbeing – both negative and positive – but perhaps less than one might have anticipated given that REDD+ has been underway for seven years. 

Indeed, REDD+ has had many challenges getting off the ground, and has a long way to go before realizing its objectives.  Among the chief obstacles are political and economic interests (at all scales of governance) tied to the conversion of forests to non-forest uses, the difficulties in producing a sufficiently large and stable stream of rewards, and considerable difficulties in establishing an appropriate tenure foundation.


Expert perceptions on cost of increasing biospheric carbon in landscapes in Finland, Indonesia, Peru and Tanzania

M. Larjavaara (University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland), M. Kanninen, (University of Helsinki VITRI, Helsinki, Finland)

Abstract details
Expert perceptions on cost of increasing biospheric carbon in landscapes in Finland, Indonesia, Peru and Tanzania

M. Larjavaara (1) ; M. Kanninen, (2)
(1) University of Helsinki, VITRI, Helsinki, Finland; (2) University of Helsinki VITRI, Helsinki, Finland

Abstract content

Expert perceptions on cost of increasing biospheric carbon in landscapes in Finland, Indonesia, Peru and Tanzania


Markku Larjavaara, Markku Kanninen et al.


Good understanding of global variation in prices of adding biospheric carbon to landscapes could lead to a better allocation of scarce funding. Unfortunately, comparisons have been complicated by variability in ways to quantify cost and carbon benefits and how complications such as unsecure land tenure have been taken into account. Our objective was to quantify expert perceptions on cost of increasing biospheric carbon in Finland, Indonesia, Peru and Tanzania by conducting face-to-face interviews. For this purpose we developed a simple carbon bookkeeping tool with a spreadsheet and a more user friendly versions. We applied this future scenario carbon calculator, “CarboScen”, in 64 interviews on 8 landscapes in 4 countries. The experts represented governments, NGOs, private sector and research and had their focus in national, subnational or local level. Prior to the interviews we parameterized CarboScen with best available local data on carbon densities and global understanding on speed of carbon density changes after a transition in land use. Instead of the normal, cost per sequestered unit of carbon, we asked the experts to imagine a payment of 1 USD and 10 USD paid annual for every extra ton of carbon stored in the landscape relative to a reference, business-as-usual, scenario. We then asked what kind of land use changes these payments could cause by showing carbon implications of numerous land use changes suggested by the interviewee with CarboScen. According to the perceptions of the experts of land use, marginal costs of adding carbon increased rapidly as the tenfold hypothetical payment of 10 USD lead to only a two or three fold additional carbon store relative to a 1 USD payment. The perceptions on the quantity of carbon added with a given payment were roughly proportional to carbon density of the landscape. Therefore adding carbon to the extremely carbon dense landscapes dominated by tropical peatlands in Indonesia was approximately  ten times more efficient than in landscapes in Finland and Peru and the difference to landscapes Tanzania was even greater. Based on the reasoning of the interviewees, these large differences in cost of increasing carbon were caused mainly by differences in technically maximal mitigation potential, income from alternative land-uses and the understanding of the assumed “good governance and efficient distribution of the funding”. It is likely that these perceptions reflect actual differences in cost of increasing carbon, and therefore should be taken into account when designing global climate change mitigation strategies.