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Forests have been all over the news recently as the Brazilian Amazon burns and the world reacts. One of the most consequential decisions for India’s forests will be made soon in a surprising place—the country’s 15th Finance Commission.
Last year, Indonesia’s tree cover loss declined by 60 percent to its lowest level since 2003. This kept some 0.2 gigatons of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere which, by itself, represented about 0.5 percent of all global greenhouse gas emissions that year. Many factors were involved, but one was a tentative shift in domestic politics toward protecting the country’s forests and its indigenous peoples’ rights. This shift could not have been confidently envisioned even a decade ago.
When I first heard about international programs that would pay to reduce deforestation, I assumed that indigenous peoples who inhabit tropical forests would be unanimously supportive. As I should have anticipated, indigenous peoples and their organizations are quite heterogenous in their reactions to forest conservation initiatives for many reasons, including past experiences of repression and current political movements to claim their rights.
When it comes to measuring development impacts, nothing beats forests. With ever-improving satellite monitoring technology, measuring global forest cover is each year easier, cheaper, and more accurate. Which means that—whatever you want to call it (pay for performance, results-based aid)—rewarding tropical forest countries for preserving their forests, and for their climate and development benefits, is becoming easier and more accurate.
It’s been ten years since climate change negotiators agreed to incorporate REDD+ into the process of slowing global warming. Starting today, the Norwegian government is hosting the Oslo Tropical Forest Forum to look at the results and remaining challenges of this broad effort.
Deforestation isn’t associated with higher malaria prevalence in children in 17 African countries. Nor is it associated with higher fever in children in 41 countries across Africa, Asia, and Latin America. That’s the surprising conclusion of our new CGD working paper.
Since 2008, programs for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation Plus (REDD+) have pioneered the use of performance payments to reduce tropical deforestation. While these programs generated hopes of slowing climate change and protecting indigenous peoples’ access to their lands, they also generated fears over misuse of funds, abuses of rights, displacement and commodification of the environment.
Just over a year ago, we released our book Why Forests? Why Now? The Science, Economics, and Politics of Tropical Forests and Climate Change. To ensure the widest possible distribution, we are now delighted to make the full book available online for free.
The 2015 Paris agreement incorporates a framework of reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (Redd+). Here are three reasons why Redd+ is a valuable tool in the fight against climate change, and responses to three common criticisms of the framework that no longer hold up.
Tropical forests help people live safer, healthier, and more productive lives in many ways, not least by reducing climate change. In fact, tropical forests contribute to achieving more than half of the 17 sustainable development goals agreed by world leaders in 2015.