Deforestation and forest degradation, through agricultural expansion, conversion to pastureland, infrastructure development, destructive logging, fires etc., account for nearly 20% of global greenhouse gas emissions, more than the entire global transportation sector and second only to the energy sector. It is now clear that in order to constrain the impacts of climate change within limits that society will reasonably be able to tolerate, the global average temperatures must be stabilized within two degrees Celsius. This will be practically impossible to achieve without reducing emissions from the forest sector, in addition to other mitigation actions.
Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) is an effort to create a financial value for the carbon stored in forests, offering incentives for developing countries to reduce emissions from forested lands and invest in low-carbon paths to sustainable development. "REDD+" goes beyond deforestation and forest degradation, and includes the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks.
The UN-REDD Programme was launched in 2008 and builds on the convening role and technical expertise of FAO, UNDP and UNEP. The UN-REDD Programme supports nationally-led REDD+ processes and promotes the informed and meaningful involvement of all stakeholders, including Indigenous Peoples and other forest-dependent communities, in national and international REDD+ implementation. The Programme supports national REDD+ readiness efforts in partner countries spanning, Africa, Asia-Pacific and Latin America, in two ways: (i) direct support to the design and implementation of UN-REDD National Programmes; and (ii) complementary support to national REDD+ action through common approaches, analyses, methodologies, tools, data and best practices developed through the UN-REDD Global Programme.
UNEP is the lead agency for two work areas under the UN-REDD Programme:
- Multiple benefits: When REDD+ prevents the loss or degradation of forest, this will result in multiple benefits in addition to protecting or enhancing carbon stocks. These include ‘ecosystem-based benefits’ such as conservation of forest biodiversity, water regulation, soil conservation, timber, forest foods and other non-timber forest products. Various factors affect the extent to which these benefits are delivered: the type, location and condition of the forest involved, which REDD+ activity is undertaken, how it is implemented, and the dependence of the local population on forest resources. REDD+ can also lead to direct social benefits, such as jobs, livelihoods, land tenure clarification, carbon payments, enhanced participation in decision-making and improved governance. The UN-REDD Programme supports countries in their efforts to integrate multiple benefits into their REDD+ strategies and development plans. Outputs include general concepts and guidance on ecosystem-based benefits and documents responding to specific national activities and needs.
- Green Economy: REDD+ holds the promise of multiple benefits for climate, development and conservation in the forest sector at national and global levels. The UN-REDD Programme supports countries to realize these benefits from forests and REDD+ through support to their national REDD+ programmes and targeted support. As countries advance their REDD+ readiness and develop national strategies to address drivers of deforestation and forest degradation, the cross linkages with the other sectors and themes within national development planning become apparent. It is crucial therefore to strengthen national multi-sectoral ownership of the REDD+ agenda, if REDD+ is to meet the expectation for deep change. Such comprehensive change includes ensuring that REDD+ provides benefits for development, including but not limited to poverty alleviation and gender dimensions. This work area provides an entry point and aims to support the necessary practical steps, knowledge and capacity strengthening for an approach which elevates the REDD+ process as an engine to design and implement a low carbon economy. Such paradigmatic change has been referred to elsewhere as 'sustainable development' and more recently as a 'green economy'.
REDD+ Flagship Programme
The REDD+ Flagship Programme focus on activities related to REDD+ in a Green Economy, e.g. background studies for a Global Symposium and the production of publications on the mutually supportive relationship between REDD+ and the Green Economy. Additional activities include valuation studies of forest ecosystem services, as well as engagement with the private sector on REDD+.