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Support to Effective and Inclusive National Governance Systems for REDD-plus

Why will good governance be essential to the success of REDD+ ?

Payments under a REDD+ mechanism are to be made for changes in land-use and better stewardship of forest resources. This, however, can only be achieved if the socio-economic drivers of deforestation and degradation are addressed and current users have sufficient confidence in the REDD+ mechanism to change the way they use forest resources. This will not be easy, as current emission-intensive uses of forest resources are often an important source of foreign exchange, energy, food security, new settlements or employment.

In this context, good and efficient governance of forest resources and the distribution of benefits will be central to the success of REDD+ policies and measures. If the allocation of forest or carbon rights is opaque and uncertain, or if corruption is perceived as high, stakeholders will not take the risk of forgoing the income they derive from their current uses of forest resources.

Meanwhile, when the rights of forest dependent communities are violated or communities are marginalized, investors, weary of insecure business environments and unpredictable emission reductions, are deterred. In addition, REDD+ systems may have to be robust enough to withstand shocks such as fluctuations in carbon prices, rises in the prices of commodities, changes in governments that could all undermine confidence.

Results from mitigation activities should be reliable to guarantee a well functioning REDD+ mechanism, with roots in effective and inclusive governance systems. One of the fundamental challenges of REDD+ is the establishment of robust and transparent forest monitoring systems in developing countries including monitoring of governance.

UN-REDD Support Activities: towards Effective and Inclusive National Governance Systems for REDD+

The UN-REDD Programme has already begun its support to pilot countries starting to establish governance systems for REDD+, through national UN-REDD Programmes. Under these capacity building for REDD+ readiness, the Programme is supporting governance interventions that governments and national stakeholders have identified as priorities, such as:

  • Stakeholder consultation and participation in REDD+ planning and implementation.
  • Cross-sectoral coordination in REDD+ planning and implementation.
  • Legislative review towards reform & enforcement.

These activities are initial steps to build transparent and accountable national REDD+ systems & processes.

To further this support in REDD+ partner countries, UNDP, the leading agency on governance issues for the UN-REDD Programme, is developing a comprehensive approach on how to support effective and inclusive national governance systems for REDD+. This support will include:

These governance activities will be tightly linked to the Programme's activities on social standards and benefits. Two elements, that will serve to ensure linkages, are described below:

  1. A due diligence tool for applying minimum social standards has been developed to guide national programme design. This rights-based approach seeks to guide and improve programme design, secure stakeholder support and thus increase programme sustainability. It has been developed to be consistent with the safeguard guidance provided in the UNFCCC's draft AWG-LCA text on REDD+ and has drawn on contributions from a number of efforts and initiatives (such as those of the FCPF and CCBA/CARE standards), and conventions, policies and guidance of the UN system. A number of countries have expressed interest in test-piloting the application of this tool.

    Three inter-related principles of good governance, stakeholder livelihoods and policy coherence each contain a set of criteria and questions to assist users assess potential risks and identifying risk mitigation strategies. The good governance principles relate to integrity, transparency & accountability and stakeholder engagement.

    The UN-REDD Programme is  finalizing a zero draft of the social principles risk assessment tool and will gather feedback from members of its Policy Board and a broader range of stakeholders through its public website.

  2. Activities to support REDD+ governance processes should rely on a clear picture of a country's REDD governance situation, gaps and needs - as defined through inclusive, participatory multi-stakeholder processes. Towards this goal, the UN-REDD Programme will support the conduct of nationally owned, multi-stakeholder, inclusive and participatory governance assessments. This methodology, which has been tested in a number of countries and sectors by UNDP's Oslo Governance Centre, relies on a partnership between government and civil society to identify governance challenges and to develop performance improvement processes.

    The goals of the assessments are two-pronged: they are diagnostic tools to analyze and obtain credible information, and they also serve to mobilize public opinion, create demand for accountability and ensure the leadership of government in strengthening governance outcomes.

    These assessments also produce disaggregated and non-ranking governance indicators, making them different from "top down" approaches to assessing governance. Emphasis is however put on the process of developing these indicators rather than the indicators themselves, based on what stakeholders value, and on the process of establishing an information management system that reinforces domestic accountability over time.


To develop and implement its activities the UN-REDD Programme enrolls the expertise of UNDP's Democratic Governance Group, including the Oslo Governance Centre and the Anti - Corruption service area, as well as FAO's MRV, forest and land tenure experts.

At the institutional level, the UN-REDD programme draws the expertise, engages and collaborates with organizations such as CIFOR; the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility; Chatham House; Global WitnessRights and Resources Initiative; Transparency International; the World Resources Institute; and many others.


Estelle Fach
Programme Analyst, Knowledge Management & Governance (REDD), UNDP