The results-based finance (RBF) decision from Warsaw not only reaffirms the decision from Durban that finance for REDD+ “may come from a variety of sources,” it also identifies the Green Climate Fund (GCF) as the foremost channel through which finance should flow. The Warsaw decision also seeks to keep the discussion on finance going, with the aim of helping to “scale up and improve the effectiveness” of finance. What has happened until now?
After the fourth day at COP20, many discussions around REDD+ issues have taken place in the Peruvian capital. The agenda items have included: methodological issues on non-carbon benefits (NCBs) and non-market-based approaches (NMBA), the need for further guidance on safeguard information systems (SIS), coordination of support for REDD+, testimonies of experiences and lessons to draw from, and finance debates mostly.
However, while there is international consensus on the need to conserve forests, progress on establishing a global REDD+ mechanism has been slower than many had hoped. This slowness in implementing REDD+ projects is due to several reasons, some of which are: 1) Despite some developments, there is still no assurance that funds will indeed flow into the GCF at the scale needed to compensate countries for their REDD+ results in the near future, or whether such funds will flow with any consistency; 2) although bilateral, multilateral and aid-based arrangements that have been in place in the earlier (readiness) phases of REDD+ continue to thrive, these are limited in scope, raising questions of equity in the distribution of incentives for REDD+, and have a fixed lifespan; 3) in addition, there are problems regarding the adequacy of available data and methods to establish baselines and measure change, and the weak institutional capacity and policy standards in recipient countries.
To move on, we need to keep in mind that REDD+ is an emissions reduction mechanism and not a forest protection measure itself. Truly making forest carbon a viable asset, the sequestration of which can result in tangible benefits for forested developing countries, will depend mainly on more clarity around possible approaches to transfer and receive results-based payments, and successfully encouraging more investment, such as from the private sector.