Assessing the Progress of REDD+ Projects towards the Sustainable Development Goals

Almost a decade since the establishment of Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+), this study investigates the extent to which REDD+ projects are delivering on the promise of co-benefits and the elusive ‘triple-win’ for climate, biodiversity, and local communities. The Climate, Community and Biodiversity Alliance (CCB) is among several leading REDD+ certification standards that are designed to support the delivery of social and environmental co-benefits, and ‘socially-just’ carbon. This study uses an in-depth content analysis of 25 subnational REDD+ project documents to assess the extent to which REDD+ project objectives align with Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) targets, and evaluates the reporting of progress towards meeting these objectives. Currently the CCB standards address a relatively small subset of SDG targets. Despite this, we find that REDD+ projects aspire to work on a much broader set of SDG target objectives, thus going beyond what the CCB Standards require for REDD+ validation. However, although reviewed REDD+ projects have these aspirations, very few are actively monitoring impact against the goals. There is a gap between aspiration and reported progress at the goal level, and for each project: on average, only a third of SDGs that are being targeted by REDD+ projects are showing ‘improvement’. The analysis shows which global goals are most frequently targeted, and which are the least. It also allows an analysis of which projects are following through most effectively in terms of monitoring progress towards the SDGs. This assessment provides insights into the priorities of REDD+ project proponents, suggesting that REDD+ has unfulfilled potential to elicit positive change in relation to the SDGs. Our analysis also shows that there is considerable potential for the safeguarding bodies to do more to ensure that real improvements are made, and reported against, aligning REDD+ projects more strongly with global development agendas.

Milbank, C., Coomes, D., and Vira, B. (2018) Assessing the Progress of REDD+ Projects towards the Sustainable Development Goals. Forests 9 (10), 589 https://www.mdpi.com/1999-4907/9/10/589/htm 

This is an output of the CCI Collaborative Fund project Evaluating the success of carbon projects aimed at protecting tropical forests and benefiting local livelihoods.

Type: 
Journal articles
Date: 
Tue, 22 Jan 2019