What are REDD+ projects?

5 min read
December 2, 2020 at 2:19 PM

REDD+ (Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation) is a mechanism developed by Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). It creates a financial value for the carbon stored in forests by incentivizing developing countries to reduce emissions from forested lands and invest in low-carbon paths to sustainable development.

Developing countries would receive results-based payments for results-based actions. REDD+ goes beyond simply deforestation and forest degradation and includes the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests, and enhancement of forest carbon stocks" (UN-REDD, 2020).


Our analysis aims to understand the interest represented by these REDD+ projects in the fight against global warming, state their limits, and see what elements of response could be provided by ClimateSeed.


1. Protect the carbon sinks: the emergence of REDD+ projects


Beyond being a symbol, forests are, first and foremost, carbon sinks, as they allow massive sequestration of greenhouse gases. "Global forests play a major role in regulating the carbon cycle and atmospheric CO2 concentration. They contain 53% of the carbon accumulated in terrestrial ecosystems" (Boulier, Laurent, 2010). Their disappearance is detrimental. These carbon sinks will decrease their carbon-sequestration potential, further aggravating pre-existing global warming and accentuating the destruction of ecosystems and biodiversity decline. In other words, the fight against global warming can only be achieved by protecting forests.


This pragmatic approach makes it possible to understand the context in which REDD+ projects began to emerge. REDD+ projects are historically located in "Southern countries." If we add the Kyoto Protocol's conclusions, the Northern economies would have to help the countries of the South achieve a more low-carbon economic development. The underlying idea is linked to the historical role that Northern countries have played in anthropogenic emissions since the industrial revolution and the fact that they are mainly responsible for the current situation.


Nevertheless, the development of the Southern economies would increase the rate of carbon present in the atmosphere tenfold and significantly affect the global community. Once they made this statement, the common objective was clear: limit the carbon in the atmosphere by taking advantage of developed economies to help the less advanced nations. Therefore, the voluntary carbon market and the creation of REDD+ projects appeared as a solution to provide financing to Southern countries to preserve carbon sinks that these countries' significant economic development could threaten. 


While these projects have emerged to meet the Kyoto Protocol's GHG reduction commitments by protecting the existing carbon sinks represented by forests, they also have a social and economic dimension. Indeed, they have multiple impacts on local communities that meet the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals. Various standards will emerge to label and estimate the positive impact of these projects on local communities. Recognizing the increased awareness at the global and national levels of the need for effective social and environmental safeguards (SES), the REDD+ SES initiative aims to define and support higher-level social and environmental performance for REDD+ programs" (REDD+ SES, 2012).


2. REDD+ projects have high co-benefits on biodiversity and local communities

These projects' environmental, social, and economic dimensions attract many actors who wish to contribute to them. Many REDD+ projects are large, often covering thousands of hectares and storing several million tons of CO2. In addition to carbon avoidance, these projects have an important impact on biodiversity, by protecting endangered species. 

REDD+ projects are essential in the fight against global warming and in protecting existing natural carbon sinks. At ClimateSeed, we are well aware of the potential to contribute to high-quality REDD+ projects that preserve ecosystems and endangered species, improve local populations' economic and social conditions, and store a large amount of carbon. 


3. ClimateSeed's approach: carbon expertise and technological solutions for a detailed analysis of projects


What is ClimateSeed's approach to REDD+ projects? ClimateSeed has chosen to integrate REDD+ projects in its catalog of projects. Project developers submit their projects to our three strict selection levels.


The first level proposes a project certified by a major international standard (such as VCS or Gold Standard). As we have seen, these organizations certify projects, estimate, and issue carbon credits that can be sold on the voluntary carbon market for a specific period. In addition to this carbon dimension, they also make it possible to estimate the co-benefits associated with the project, whether economic, social, or environmental. There is also additional certification from the CCBA, which conducts a more in-depth analysis of the environmental impact on local ecosystems. 


The second step that ClimateSeed applies to projects is a practice inherited from the banking world: KYC-AML due diligence (Know Your Customer and Anti-Money Laundering). The objective is to learn more about the project developer, the local actors, the actual beneficiaries, the shareholder structure, and the financial arrangements. This practice ensures that the financial contributions obtained in exchange for the credits are indeed intended for the project's development and that the money received is not used for terrorism or money laundering.

This second filter is essential because it avoids collaboration with fraudulent project developers, whose financial revenues would not be used for the desired purposes. 


Lastly, the third step consists in submitting the project to our Sustainability Committee, composed of carbon and sustainable development experts. These experts conduct a detailed analysis of the documentation provided, the project's relevance, and its co-benefits. The experts can request additional documentation, and discuss with the project developers if necessary. Once this analysis has been carried out, a vote is taken. If most experts vote in favor of the project, it will be integrated into the ClimateSeed project portfolio. Otherwise, it will be rejected and receive its refusal rationale.

This multi-step approach is essential to ensure projects' high quality and relevance. ClimateSeed thus makes it possible to work with REDD+ project developers who have proven their effectiveness. 

ClimateSeed's mission is to have the best possible environmental, social, and economic impact. In this sense, by their specificity and attractiveness, REDD+ projects have their place in achieving this mission.

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- BNC REDD+. Site Web : REDD+ dans le monde. 2020. [Online] https://www.bnc-redd.mg/fr/2-bnc-redd-fr/17-redd-dans-le-monde
- Boulier, Joël, et Laurent Simon. « Les forêts au secours de la planète : quel potentiel de stockage du carbone ? », L’Espace géographique, vol. tome 39, no. 4, 2010, pp. 309-324.
- Brimont, Laura. REDD+ project performance: predicting the worst and promising the best? IDDRI. 2016. [Online] https://www.iddri.org/en/publications-and-events/blog-post/redd-project-performance-predicting-worst-and-promising-best
- REDD+ SES. Standards Sociaux et Environnementaux REDD+. Version 2.  2012. 
- UN-REDD Programme. Our Work. 2020. [Online] https://www.un-redd.org/how-we-work-1
- Wunder Sven, Duchelle Amy E., Sassi Claudio de, Sills Erin O., Simonet Gabriela, Sunderlin William D. REDD+ in Theory and Practice: How Lessons From Local Projects Can Inform Jurisdictional Approaches. Frontiers in Forests and Global Change. Volume 3. 2020.