New report serves as a call to action on International Day of Forests

Posted on 21 March 2014    
Sunset on the Amazon, Peru
© Brent Stirton / Getty Images/ WWF
Building Natural Capital: How REDD+ Can Support a Green Economy, a report released to coincide with the International Day of Forests by the International Resource Panel (IRP) and the UN REDD Programme, and including input from WWF Forest and Climate Programme experts, outlines how integrating REDD+ programmes into a Green Economy approach can conserve and even boost the economic and social benefits forests provide to human society.

The report lays out recommendations to deliver the new integrated REDD+ and Green Economy approach, including better coordination, stronger private sector engagement, changes in fiscal incentive frameworks, greater focus on assisting policymakers to understand the role forests play in propping up economies, and equitable benefit sharing. The report stresses in particular the needs for a rights-based approach to ensure that benefits flow to the rural poor.

Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries (REDD) is the approach to cut greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation-estimated at up to 20 per cent of the global total-through payments for services. REDD+ is an expanded approach that includes the conservation and sustainable management of forests, and the enhancement of forest carbon stocks.

REDD+ is so far backed by a total of US $6.27 billion. However, an estimated US $30 billion is projected to be needed each year from 2020. The IRP report seeks to encourage delivery of this funding by demonstrating that REDD+ approaches can support economic development and increase long-term returns on investments.

The report shows how activities supported by REDD+ can be designed to increase income by boosting output on land under cultivation, developing new green industries, encouraging forest-based ecotourism, and increasing sustainable production of commodities for which demand is increasing. It also points out that an increasing number of countries have Green Economy growth plans that clearly define the role of protecting forests and other natural capital.

Reflecting on the efforts already underway in some countries, the report closes by suggesting some of the next steps in what will surely be a long process of societies adapting to new conditions: REDD+ will need to be part of the social response to increasing agricultural and forestry outputs to meet future needs, while at the same time enhancing conservation of forests and ecosystem services.

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