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REDD+ benefit sharing: a comparative assessment of three national policy approaches

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J. Costenbader
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This paper outlines national benefit sharing approaches from three areas of forest management policy with respect to reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries (REDD, or REDD+) under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The three policy approaches outlined here are payments for ecosystem services also known as payments for environmental services (PES), participatory forest management (PFM), and forest concession revenue-sharing arrangements. The paper notes that PES presents one of the most important developments for financing ecosystem conservation efforts. Many implementing countries and observers have embraced PES as the preferred policy approach for REDD+ due to the stronger link between funders and service providers. The report further notes that PES is not likely to work as a REDD+ policy model in all contexts due to the need for a variety of threshold institutional preconditions. Issues such as socioeconomic equity with regard to participation of local and indigenous communities, exclusivity of land holding tenure, and conditionality of payments can all pose challenges for PES. On PFM, the report notes that it presents strong promise as a decentralised management strategy compatible with PES under which small landholder communities may be included in a future REDD+ delivery system. This approach consists generally of community forest management (CFM), which usually occurs on community-owned and -managed land, and joint forest management (JFM), in which governments retain ownership of forest land and villagers are allowed to live in and benefit from forest resources. On forest concession revenue sharing arrangements, the paper notes that it offers a potential 'default' option to distribute benefits from REDD+ contracts on government- owned land among communities living near concessions, developers or other entities leasing land, and the state. It argues that under this approach, determination of the relative shares of proceeds from forest revenues is made uniformly at the national level according to forest estate types rather than at a provincial or local level, which can overlook large differences in carbon sequestration values and opportunity and transaction costs among provincial or even local contexts. The report concludes that the policy approaches outlined are not mutually exclusive. Countries may incorporate ideas from other REDD+ partners while not discarding their own domestic experiences. Depending on institutional and political variables, as well as the drivers targeted by the REDD+ programme in question, some approaches might form a simultaneous instrument to an extent. The report gives the following recommendations:

Countries need to simplify and harmonise forest policy approaches in order to avoid unnecessary transaction costs, redundancies, confusion, and competition from multiple REDD+ programme instruments operating simultaneously at the national level.
There is a need to integrate REDD+ benefit distribution into a wider framework of environmental and natural resource management and planned sustainable development financing.
There is a need to develop activities and benefit sharing methodologies for inducing behaviours under the 'plus' side of REDD+ to help maximise the potential impact of carbon-sequestration and -maintenance payments.