Closing the REDD+ Gap: the Global Forest Finance Facility
Tropical forests have a critical role in the prevention of dangerous climate change. Experts have estimated that reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) could provide one third of the world’s most cost-effective carbon reduction potential by 20201, while simultaneously protecting irreplaceable biodiversity and safeguarding the livelihoods of some of the poorest people on earth. The clearing of 12–15 million hectares of tropical forests per year2 means the REDD+ opportunity is a narrow—and closing—window of time. During the past ﬁve years, dozens of conferences, hundreds of papers and billions of dollars have been devoted to accelerating REDD+. In order to judge whether REDD+ is fulﬁ lling its potential, however, the two fundamental metrics by which we must judge progress are time and scale. Assessed in such a way, then, current efforts are not delivering what is required. Progress to date has been too slow and at a scale that will not meet the targets required to prevent dangerous climate change. The progress gap is not due to the failure of one single or even several REDD+ programmes. Numerous policy and market failures are currently hampering progress and investment in REDD+. These failures can be addressed by a range of interventions, including a combination of supply (or ‘push’) and demand (‘pull’) measures. Most of the current REDD+ thinking, and nearly all the ﬁ nancial resources, focuses on supply-side measures. The efforts to date, however, overlook a key missing ingredient: without a large-scale, predictable and long-term buyer for forest carbon, REDD+ cannot provide rainforest countries and communities with an adequate economic incentive to commit to permanent land use polices that conserve forests. Without predictable, long-term payments for REDD+, the economic incentives favour wasteful or high-emission land uses. Unless corrected, this could result in tropical forests turning from a large carbon sink into a large carbon source. Creating a large-scale mechanism to provide predictable, long-term demand and a price for forest carbon is therefore a critical step in ensuring that tropical forests are part of the climate change solution, rather than the part of the problem.