Skip to main content

African countries eye greater economic, forest rewards through REDD+ implementation

Blog | Tue, 25 Jun, 2024 · 11 min read

Participants including UN-REDD and AFF specialists pose for a group photo outside the event venue

Many African countries have embraced REDD+ (Reducing of Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) but there are still many untapped economic and environmental rewards to be accessed, according to delegates at an Abidjan meet this month. To better achieve these rewards and ensure countries receive results-based payments, UN-REDD Programme in partnership with African Forest Forum (AFF) held a Knowledge Exchange on REDD+ implementation and Learning Lab on Social Inclusion in Côte d'Ivoire’s commercial capital from 3-7 June 2024. 

Participating African countries who attended the dual event, which offered information on greater implementation, investment and the enhancement of carbon stocks from forests and other land uses, included Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Zambia, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Ghana, Côte d'Ivoire, Republic of Congo, Burkina Faso and Togo. While many countries who attended the event had achieved steady progress, only a few were advancing to phase three of REDD+ - making them eligible for result-based payments. To bridge this gap, the meet-up sought to facilitate peer-to-peer sharing of experiences and best practices to help tailor knowledge products to achieve the specific needs of African countries and improve efficiency in REDD+ implementation.

Strengthening REDD+ implementation and lessons learned by African countries


Prof. Marie Louise Avana, Senior Programme Officer (AFF) delivering opening remarks during the Regional Knowledge Exchange 

African countries have demonstrated distinct experiences, approaches and challenges in their REDD+ journey, especially on key areas of capacity and knowledge gaps, officials said at the knowledge exchange event. Through the UN-REDD-AFF partnership, national consultations were commissioned in selected African countries with the aim of taking stock of countries’ achievements and to document challenges and lessons learned. The knowledge exchange focused on key findings from these national consultations, including facilitating knowledge exchange among the country participants.  

Speaking during the opening session, AFF Senior Programme Officer, Prof. Marie-Louise Avana noted that despite the pilot projects and programmes initiated, most of the African countries were still in their early-stage of REDD+ readiness phase. She noted that the studies found institutional barriers and low government capacity hindered access to results-based payments in most African countries. In view of this, good governance, policy reforms, capacity building, national funding mechanisms and the knowledge base on forest resources in Africa needed to be strengthened to enhance progress on REDD+ implementation, Avana added.

Further discussions on the knowledge exchange centered on:

  • Sharing, discussing and validating findings from the national consultations on key factors affecting REDD+ implementation and Results-based payments in African countries.
  • Peer-to-peer learnings on best practices, success factors and gaps in REDD+ implementation in Africa.
  • Future interventions to enhance implementation and investments in REDD+ and other forest-related nature-based solutions in Africa.
  • Strategies to further promote stakeholder dialogue, networking and collaboration in African countries

A section of the participants following the Knowledge exchange discussions

The outcomes of the Knowledge exchange were many. Findings from national consultations were shared, strengthened, and validated by diverse stakeholder groups with actionable insights to advance countries’ REDD+ agenda. Key messages, best practices and lessons learned were formulated to guide capacity building for enhanced implementation of REDD+ in Africa. Networks were strengthened for sustained South-South dialogue and collaboration on REDD+ implementation in Africa. Finally, key areas of capacity and knowledge gaps were prioritized for future interventions by AFF and UN-REDD.

Strengthening social inclusion in REDD+ through training, knowledge sharing

Social inclusion is ultimately about the full, meaningful and effective engagement of the diverse stakeholders and rightsholders, such as Indigenous People, local communities, women and youth, to create public policies and field actions. Social inclusion in REDD+ is essential for ensuring the effectiveness, sustainability, and legitimacy of forest conservation and climate mitigation efforts.

The learning lab featured training sessions to enhance the capacity and knowledge of participants to establish social and environmental measures in countries implementing REDD+. Experts in social inclusion encompassing the above dimensions led the training sessions and provided practical insights for designing effective strategies.

Speaking during the opening ceremony UN-REDD Africa Technical Coordinator Mami Rasamoelina emphasized the need for countries to have a robust safeguards system as this is a key pillar for achieving results-based payments. He also emphasized the need for countries to involve all stakeholders in the REDD+ implementation process.


UN-REDD Africa Technical Coordinator Mami Rasamoelina addressing the participants during the learning lab

UNDP/UN-REDD Experts Elizabeth Eggerts and Mary Ann Manja Bayang, Climate Change, Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities Specialist provided further capacity building on social inclusion and gender dimensions. In their joint presentation they highlighted the importance of social inclusion and gender-responsive participation in REDD+, delving deeper into mainstreaming gender approaches in REDD+ planning and implementation.

Eggerts and Manja also highlighted the legal and policy frameworks reinforcing social inclusion and gender diverse approaches. Involvement of indigenous peoples and local communities was also discussed by the experts, who highlighted the vital need for countries to enhance the participation of these groups in REDD+ implementation.


Mary Ann Manja Bayang, Climate Change, Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities Specialist, UNDP making a presentation during the learning lab session

UNEP WCMC Nature-Based Solutions Programme Officer Sarah Beard was at hand to help participants understand the importance of effective participation of diverse range of stakeholders and rightsholders in REDD+. She reiterated the importance of REDD+ safeguards and reviewed key concepts, including Cancun safeguards and key principles of stakeholder engagement including; participation, mutual understating, shared responsibility and inclusive solutions.


UNEP WCMC Nature-Based Solutions Programme Officer Sarah Beard (in green) takes participants through a group discussion.   

The importance of robust benefit sharing mechanisms - including balancing equity and efficiency in REDD+ initiatives - was highlighted by FAO Benefit Sharing Expert Francesca Felicani. She detailed the key ingredients for a good benefit-sharing plan, such as transparency, inclusiveness and dispute settlement options.


UN-REDD-AFF Project Coordinator Achille Momo guiding participants through a group discussion on the learning lab 

The learning lab helped improve the overall knowledge of participants on social inclusion. In addition, the capacity of participants on how to mainstream gender and women’s empowerment into REDD+ policy and actions, ensuring gender-responsive benefit sharing and payment for results mechanisms was enhanced. Lastly, key strategies, best practices and lessons learned in ensuring equitable distribution of benefits and good governance in REDD+ projects were defined and documented.

By involving and empowering local communities and Indigenous Peoples, and marginalized groups, such as women and youth among them, REDD+ initiatives can achieve their environmental objectives while also promoting social equity, gender equality and justice. 

 Photo credits: © UNEP/UN-REDD Programme