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Mexico Adopts Landmark REDD+ Legal Reforms

The Mexican Senate recently approved a set of legal amendments that set a new precedent for empowering local communities to address deforestation.

By: Francesca Felicani Robles, Andrés Avila Akerberg and Chris Stephens

The legislative reforms passed in Mexico City on 24 April, 2012, position Mexico as one of the first countries to legislate in support of efforts to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+). Recognizing the need to reform environmental laws and harmonize legal inconsistencies for REDD+ implementation, the Mexican Congress has advanced a set of legal reforms to the country's environmental law (1988) and forest sustainable development law (2003). The amendments to these laws focus on harmonizing the definitions of key terms, the development of economic instruments to promote environmental services that provide benefits to forest owners and forest land users, and the inclusion of REDD+ safeguards in light of the latest results of the Conference of the Parties of United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the national REDD+ strategy of Mexico.

These legal reforms, which were initially presented to the Chamber of Deputies in December 2011, represent a critical step towards ensuring that local communities who sustainably manage their forests receive the benefits derived from any future carbon compensation scheme. Carbon compensation schemes are an alternative to traditional carbon offsetting initiatives, aiming to contribute to climate change mitigation and adaptation by investing in a poverty reduction project in a country vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

By enshrining this in national legislation, the Mexican Congress is building a forward-looking legal framework that supports the concept that forests should be managed in a sustainable way, prioritizing the engagement of forest dependent communities.
The key aspects of these legal amendments are:

  • The definition of environmental services has been adapted to emphasize the relation of their benefits with the functionality of the natural ecosystem and the individuals settled in the territory. In addition, it is now recognized that environmental services are regulated by the forest sustainable development law.
  • The terms of deforestation and degradation are defined, which is critical for the implementation of REDD+.
  • The concept of forest management has been adjusted to now encompass the notion of environmental services and recognize their economical value.
  • The national forest inventory is now linked to the REDD+ MRV system which should be established in the country, to be in line with the latest recommendations from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
  • All economic instruments will be considered as a means to promote environmental services, thus establishing a legal basis for new mechanisms supporting the principle that who conserves will receive the benefits from the services provided.
  • Forest land owners will be the direct beneficiaries of the economic revenues generated by the sustainable management of their forests.
  • Eight socio-environmental safeguards are established. These are in line with the UNFCCC safeguards and the national REDD+ strategy of Mexico.
  • Finally, these reforms urge the executive power to establish, in a period no longer than three years, a national system for monitoring, registration and verification to evaluate and systematize emission reductions derived from actions that prevent deforestation and forest degradation.

These reforms were advanced as part of the GLOBE Legislators’ Forest Initiative (GLFI), with the support of the Global Environmental Facility (GEF), the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad), the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and the UN-REDD Programme. The UN-REDD programme collaborates with the Legal Unit of the National Forest Commission through the FAO commitment on  REDD+ legal preparedness. GLOBE Mexico, which is composed of a cross-party group of Mexican legislators, initially submitted the REDD+ legal reforms to the Chamber of Deputies in December 2011 and has been actively involved in their passage through both houses of the Mexican Congress.

The success of this legislative initiative in Mexico highlights the start of a transition towards embedding REDD+ into national legal frameworks, and provides a valuable template that other national legislatures can follow when advancing their REDD+ laws. In addition, to encourage participatory law developments, the Legal Unit of the National Forest Commission of Mexico has recently created a workspace to promote discussions and analyze forest, land, agriculture and environmental laws, which could be used to further analyze cross-sectoral issues related to REDD+ implementation, in collaboration with the Legal Unit of the Ministry (Secretary) of Agriculture and Livestock (SAGARPA).

Francesca Felicani Robles is a Legal Officer in the Development Law Service of FAO, based in Rome, Italy.










Andrés Avila Akerberg is the Director for the Mexico chapter of the GLOBE Legislators’ Forest Initiative, based in Mexico City, Mexico.










Chris Stephens is the Global Director of the GLOBE Legislators’ Forest Initiative, based in London, UK.










In this issue


Unprecedented Cooperation Established on Anti-Corruption for REDD+ in Africa

South-South Exchange on REDD+ Governance Sets Up Unique Community of Practice

Update on UN-REDD's Work with Indigenous Peoples

Vacancy Announcement for UN-REDD Secretariat
Features & Commentary

Mexico Adopts Landmark REDD+ Legal Reforms
By: Francesca Felicani Robles, Andrés Avila Akerberg and Chris Stephens
Reports & Analysis

Committee on World Food Security Launches Groundbreaking Guidelines on Land Tenure

New Go-REDD+ Issue Explores Anti-Corruption Efforts in Forest Sector

Looking ahead

GEF Council 42
11-14 June, 2012: Washington, D.C, USA

United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20)
20-22 June, 2012: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) Participants Committee meeting
27-29 June, 2012: Santa Marta, Colombia

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