Advancing REDD+ in practice through knowledge sharing and learning

Posted on 19 May 2016

We can learn from efforts that worked as well as those that didn’t.
By Maria Fernanda Jaramillo and Emelin Gasparrini,
WWF Forest and Climate 

As an evolving mechanism, REDD+ has grown over the years through trial and error, as people try to put together the complex puzzle pieces that make up this forest and climate work. As we feel our way through the process, it is so important to assess the effectiveness of our actions, to ensure we are maximizing the positive impacts of our work.

However, rushed agendas often leave little time for donors and practitioners to reflect on their REDD+ efforts. Setting aside time and resources for this is rarely included in work plans or budgets. In many cases, work has been done in silos, and the lessons learned from real world efforts have not been shared in a way that helps us take into account real time events or permits us to deliver a “new way to do things.” 

The concept of lessons learned is especially useful in a dynamic field like REDD+, where most practitioners – including WWF – are learning by doing. We can learn from efforts that worked as well as those that didn’t. Lessons learned can be used as recommendations for those who want to develop a similar process, or for the same team that has been developing the practice under scrutiny.

We must dedicate resources, both financial and human, to accounting for what we learn each step of the way and how it can help us better navigate the road ahead.  Finding ways to help practitioners and donors do this in a more cost effective manner is fundamental to identifying the best practices and to enact the ‘adaptive management’ about which we so often speak. 

WWF’s Forest and Climate team endeavours to contribute to that new way to do things through our Knowledge Sharing and Learning (KSL) program, which fosters coordination across the geographies where we work and shares lessons learned with the wider REDD+ community. KSL efforts seek to empower local teams to understand and build the skills to identify, capture, and share lessons learned that promote successful REDD+ initiatives. The KSL team works with, not for, the local teams. Its role is to facilitate the learning process through methodological support and adequate tools that each team can use to fit its unique context and needs. 

However, it’s not simply a transfer of information about what others have learned or done; it is the opportunity to reflect collectively on the experience or project that can make the biggest impact. 

This is a challenge that cannot be tackled with one single project.  However, the human, logistical and financial resources provided by one project can be a great starting point to catalyse action throughout an entire organization. When the knowledge sharing process becomes part of the organizational cycle in the same way that monitoring and evaluation processes already are, the organization and its efforts will be more effective. 
We can’t, and shouldn’t, wait until the end of a grant to reflect on what we’ve learned. We endeavour to contribute to a community-wide culture of learning by publishing our Inspiring Practices, holding a monthly webinar series, and sharing news and developments from across the community through emails and social media.  Building that greater community of learning will help us all make our interventions more effective, and link our work to global trends and innovations.
Leading a workshop
© Pavel Martiarena