REDD+ finance: where next?

Marigold Norman, Forest Trends and Charlene Watson, ODI

In bringing together the views of a number of initiatives tracking REDD+ finance, this series has highlighted why there isn’t a single aggregate figure for global REDD+ finance flowing. Despite this, we are increasingly able to assess where finance is coming from, how it flows through different channels and funds to recipient countries and eventually to REDD+ projects and activities on the ground. But knowledge remains incomplete and we are still faced with challenges and gaps that make it difficult to make comprehensive and conclusive remarks about the state of REDD+ finance.

Continued concerted efforts are needed to change this and we identify three steps that can pave a way forward to a better understanding of REDD+ finance:

1. Develop capacity and expertise for in-country REDD+ finance tracking to improve reporting and effective REDD+ finance spend.

Monitoring REDD+ finance allows us to evaluate REDD+ and REDD+ spend. Funding gaps become more obvious as a more comprehensive picture emerges; as it is possible to see which regions in-country and REDD+ activities are underfunded and where money can be more strategically spent. It is also important to link expenditures to actual impacts to evaluate successes and failures and help determine how REDD+ finance can be effectively scaled up in the medium to long-term.

Few countries have centralised systems for tracking climate finance that arrives through a number of channels and instruments. REDD+ finance is no exception. Supporting the appropriate institutions for REDD+ finance tracking could include determining the right combination of civil society, academic and governmental institutions for this role as well as stronger collaborations with in-country REDD+ Focal Points to consolidate and report national data to the REDD+ Partnership’s Voluntary REDD+ Database (VRD). Forest Trends’ REDDX initiative, for example, has started to do this by working with local civil society partner organizations and REDD+ Focal Points to promote longer term in-country tacking capacity and more comprehensive data reported back to the REDD+ Partnership’s VRD.

2. Establish broader discourse and develop a protocol through which private finance for REDD+ can be better understood and tracked.

It is increasingly clear that we must involve a variety of private sector actors in discussions on REDD+ finance if we are to develop a better idea of how to attract private sector capital at scale, while also more effectively tracking private sector finance. Improvements can be made through aligning with wider existing climate finance tracking efforts which have made more progress than in the REDD+ space.

3. Take proactive steps towards understanding needs to track REDD+ finance under a globally integrated REDD+ mechanism, as well as understanding how REDD+ fits within emerging climate finance funds such as the Green Climate Fund.

The long term success of REDD+ (in terms of policy and leveraging additional finance) will depend on more standardized approaches to monitoring, reporting and evaluation which link expenditure to actual impact. Looking towards a potential United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) REDD+ mechanism, the potential inclusion of REDD+ in the Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Action (NAMA) Registry, or a possible REDD+ window under the Green Climate Fund, there will be a clear need for a common reporting framework for REDD+ finance. Taking proactive steps and encouraging contributor and recipient countries to track what actually happened with REDD+ finance helps measure impacts and evaluate successes in a comparable way, and is likely to facilitate these future possibilities for REDD+ activities.

The road ahead

No REDD+ finance tracking institution or initiative is, or claims to be, comprehensive on its own. This series has been a first attempt to bring together a community of practice tracking aspects of REDD+ finance. It is critical that we continue to expand this community to learn from one another and work together to more effectively track and record the global state of REDD+ finance.

In addition to improving the way that REDD+ finance is monitored and tracked, more emphasis should be placed on sharing experiences and lessons with wider efforts to track climate finance and development aid.  Gaining clarity over where money is going, through whom and how fast, is a first step to ensuring that the money does what it should, where it should. If donors and recipients of climate finance design transparent, comparable and accessible financial accounting systems, we will be able to more effectively track and monitor for accountability at a global or national level, by government or civil society.

This series of blogs on REDD+ finance intends to create a forum for debate and exchange of ideas. It should not be understood to reflect the views of Forest Trends, REDDX, ODI or Climate Funds Update.

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