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As part of its initiative on Tropical Forests for Climate and Development, the Center for Global Development is producing a book entitled Why Forests? Why Now? The Science, Economics, and Politics of Tropical Forests and Climate Change. Co-authored by senior fellow Frances Seymour and research fellow Jonah Busch, the book will make the case that tropical forests are essential for both climate stability and sustainable development, that now is the time for action on tropical forests, and that payment-for-performance finance for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) represents a course of action with great potential for success.
Why Forests? Why Now? will draw on original research, synthetic reviews, and national case studies supported by commissioned background papers and CGD’s own research. The content will cover the science, economics, and politics of forest conservation and finance to underscore the urgency, affordability, and feasibility of scaling up funding for reducing deforestation, particularly through performance-based approaches.
The Science – deforestation as a source of climate emissions, development benefits provided by intact forests, and advances in forest monitoring technologies;
The Economics – the affordability of mitigating forest-based emissions compared to other options, contributions of forests to developing economies, and what is known about what drives deforestation and how to stop it.
The Politics – the politics of international cooperation to reduce tropical deforestation, with a particular focus on constituencies for performance-based finance in relevant policy arenas at the international level, within selected rich countries, and within forest countries.
The publication of Why Forests? Why Now? is set for December 2016. This research supports the activities of a CGD Working Group to identify practical ways to accelerate performance-based finance for tropical forests.
Click here for a list of all papers in the series.
I love trees. Always have. As a kid I loved climbing them. As an adult I enjoy watching the wildlife that lives in them. And now as a Washington, DC-based policy wonk, I appreciate how the carbon that trees sequester from the atmosphere protects us from climate change and its regressive effects.
Forests provide a wealth of public services and private goods, yet forested land is being steadily converted to other uses, including cropland, pasture, mining, and urban areas, which can generate greater private economic returns. Public concern over the benefits of forests lost due to deforestation has led to a variety of deliberate policies intended to slow the rate of deforestation. These efforts benefit from research to understand what factors drive deforestation and what policies can effectively stop it.
In 2009, Guyana created a Low Carbon Development Strategy to develop economically while keeping its entire forest intact, and signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Norway to receive performance-based payments in the tens of millions of dollars annually contingent upon holding nationwide deforestation to a near-zero rate. In mid-February, 2014, we visited Guyana as part of a three-country study to attempt to gain insights of value to the future expansion of performance-based payments in other countries and other sectors.
What if international development finance paid for outcomes, like children educated or diseases avoided, rather than inputs like classrooms built or medicines procured? That’s the premise of CGD’s longstanding work on Cash-on-Delivery Aid. By paying only for the verified progress on measured outcomes, donors are assured of value for money, and recipients have the flexibility and incentive to innovate. This idea is taking hold in education, health, and other sectors.