Wildlife Works and The Nature Conservancy release the first in-depth guidance for the development of high-quality REDD+ (Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation) projects in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
The Best Practice REDD+ Private Sector Project Implementation Framework (download) was developed in collaboration with a group of best-in-class DRC Project practitioners and members of DRC civil society.
The aim of this report is to enable the Government of the DRC, DRC forest communities, and international auditors to more consistently, and therefore more efficiently, identify what conditions are needed to unlock community-centered REDD+ performance at scale.
The DRC is the focal point of this report but it makes an excellent case study for REDD+ projects across other carbon-rich countries with large IPLC populations due to its value to the world’s climate and its complex legal, political, environmental, and social realities of the Indigenous Peoples and local communities (IPLCs). Thus, much of this report is applicable to running successful high quality REDD+ projects in other jurisdictions and provides critical guidance and insights on the regulatory environment that would rapidly scale community rights-based REDD+ activities and investments.
REDD+ projects can support the DRC in realizing its climate goals, while at the same time delivering crucial social and biodiversity benefits if implemented to the highest standards. As experts focus on safeguarding carbon sinks in the DRC – and carbon-rich landscapes across Africa at large, it’s critical we take a rights-based approach to conservation that supports IPLCs efforts to preserve forests.
REDD+ projects render forests more valuable standing, avoiding deforestation, by channeling climate finance from the Global North to countries in the Global South through the carbon markets and allowing local landowners and forest communities to receive payment for protecting their forest, natural resources, and other biodiversity assets.
However, a recent jump in demand for REDD+ carbon credits, driven by corporate and national net-zero commitments, has seen an uptick of new players in the space. Carbon markets that operate across borders come with a number of risks, in particular, many forest carbon offsetting schemes are located in lands historically claimed, inhabited, and used by IPLCs. But often, the rights of these communities have not been secured, putting their well-being at risk — and threatening the effectiveness of these projects, including those funded by REDD+ projects.
The benefit of REDD+ projects should be felt on the ground by the people who live in the forests. With this in mind, the framework outlines opportunities for IPLCs to achieve access to the growing carbon markets as well as a promising strategy to achieve successful biodiversity protection, including what conditions are necessary to make a shift towards a rights-based policy that promotes fair, effective, and lasting conservation practices.
This report outlines best practices for private sector practitioners of REDD+, for achieving and integrating a rights-based approach to private sector conservation projects, and presents guidelines, ethics, and recommendations for the most effective course of action to reduce emissions from REDD+, with guidance for the key cornerstones of any successful REDD+ project including how to implement and achieve:
Rigorous modeling and progress tracking of avoided deforestation for any REDD+ project, with clearly defined local emission reduction performance targets for communities, and an incentive system to reward communities that meet targets.
Free Prior and Informed Consent from IPLCs for any project, ensuring communities are fully informed prior to the initiation of the project and have a proper understanding of the proposed REDD+ project.
Effective mechanisms for grievance and recourse for IPLCs. This includes providing explanations of national legislation and international good practice on grievances and recourse.
Development of fair and appropriate community benefit sharing mechanisms, including best practices for sharing project benefits, key legal requirements in the DRC for benefit sharing, and lessons learned from prior projects, such as the critical role of transparency and stakeholder engagement in successfully completing projects.
Social and biodiversity monitoring, reporting, and verification (MRV), including international best practices for measuring and demonstrating the impacts of the REDD+ projects.
These guidelines were written by Wildlife Works in collaboration with a group of best-in-class DRC Project practitioners and members of DRC civil society. The work was funded by The Nature Conservancy. They are designed to not violate the principles and criteria of the leading international standards, while also allowing for adaptation to the fluidity of the burgeoning voluntary carbon market and the evolving standards that serve them.