Workshop on Linking Local REDD+ Projects to National REDD+ Strategies


On April 29 to May 1, an exchange on “Linking Local REDD+ Projects to National REDD+ Strategies in Africa” was held in Hawassa, Ethiopia in collaboration with Ethiopia’s Ministry of Agriculture, the Oromia Forest and Wildlife Enterprise (OFWE) and Farm Africa.  The meeting included a range of stakeholders from 13 REDD+ countries (Brazil, Cameroon, DRC, Ethiopia, Ghana, Indonesia, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Nigeria, Republic of Congo, Tanzania, and Uganda), including representatives from national and local governments, delivery partners, civil society, and members of the private sector. 

To date, the FCPF, UN-REDD and many other international REDD+ funds have focused primarily on “Phase 1” of REDD+, namely building capacity in forest countries to develop the technical and policy infrastructure needed for effective implementation of REDD+ at the national level.  However, more recently, REDD countries have consistently expressed a need for more REDD+ pilot projects that offer testing, learning, and help to create buy-in from communities, local and central governments.  Such on-the-ground activities can be linked to the preparation of national-level REDD+ strategies—but no concerted effort to date has been made to analyze how best this can be done.

The meeting in Hawassa was therefore a first regional exchange for stakeholders implementing REDD+ at various levels—national, subnational, and project, to share lessons learned and to discuss the linkages between different levels.  Seven pilot projects implemented by government, civil society and the private sector were presented.  Discussions of the projects focused on how each is tackling drivers of deforestation, linkages with national REDD+ processes, and the challenges and lessons learned from such projects. 

Presentations were also provided on the development of national REDD+ frameworks by officials from Indonesia and the DRC, and on efforts in Brazil at the national, state, and project levels.  The presentations included updates on the status of national REDD+ strategies, the development of REDD+ standards, and key challenges associated with the management of REDD+ activities and projects at multiple levels (including project, subnational, national) within the countries. 

A day was also reserved for a field visit to a Participatory Forest Management (PFM) site in Dodola Woreda on the northwest edge of the Bale Mountains.  This area has been selected for development of a REDD+ pilot project, which is now under preparation.  Participants had the opportunity to learn from the local government and cooperative, community members, and NGOs (Farm Africa, SOS Sahel) about how PFM has successfully changed practices in the region to protect forests while benefitting local communities. 


Summary of Discussions

Pilot projects and programs in a majority of REDD+ countries are far ahead of the development of national REDD+ frameworks.  Participants agreed, however, that the pursuit of pilot projects or programs can be valuable to informing the development of national REDD+ strategies and frameworks.  Most participants also agreed that it was useful to allow the development of national frameworks to proceed in parallel with encouraging pilots—and that greater communication and coordination between these levels of activity is critical.

The roles and responsibilities of national governments can differ from those at the local level.  Projects can fulfill some specific roles that governments cannot – particularly related to local implementation to directly address the drivers of deforestation and forest degradation, provide day-to-day management, and knowledge of local community needs.  However, at the same time, policy reform (including land tenure reform), sectoral cooperation, and multi-sectoral land use planning are critical to REDD+ success and need to be tackled at the national level.  Site-specific demonstration projects cannot by nature ‘demonstrate’ these broader changes.  Below are specific areas that participants suggested could be played by the project and national levels.

Pilot Project Roles

National Government Roles

  • Investing in activities that address the causes of deforestation, including the creation of alternative livelihoods
  • Designing a national REDD+ strategy, including guidance and “rules of the game” for REDD+ activities
  • Working directly with communities and providing day-to-day management at a local level
  • Providing legal and policy frameworks for implementation, to create an enabling environment
  • Providing support for conflict management
  • Law enforcement and compliance
  • Ensuring equity in benefit sharing and distribution
  • Promoting broad multi-sectoral coordination
  • Building trust and buy-in for environmental stewardship
  • Promoting communication and support for consistent messaging about REDD+
  • Testing the effectiveness of various REDD+ policies measures or interventions  
  • Creating standards/norms for REDD+ activities (MRV, safeguards, etc.)
  • Integrating REDD+ activities with village-level planning, for example promoting participatory or community forest management
  • Monitoring and reporting on overall REDD activities (including forest monitoring systems, registries, etc.)
  • Providing capacity building at a local level
  • Technical capacity building
  • Directly linking to emerging markets, such as the voluntary markets
  • Support for fund-raising, including provision of a business-friendly environment

REDD+ initiatives can learn and build from previous experience.  Over the past decades, initiatives to address deforestation and degradation in the past have generated mixed results. Workshop participants therefore discussed the types of opportunities that exist for pilot projects to inform national level processes and the development of REDD+ strategies.  For example, pilot projects can provide lessons learned on:

  • How to tackle drivers of deforestation and forest degradation.
  • Knowledge of transaction costs
  • Building confidence in, and informing, the sustainability of programs
  • How to engage the private sector
  • Identifying key capacity gaps
  • Providing a reality check on what is feasible


Challenges remain for both national governments and project proponents.  These include operating in an uncertain environment including the lack of clarity on a future international mechanism, as well as unclear legal frameworks in countries (including on land tenure and carbon rights).  Accessing predictable funding also remains elusive for many countries and projects.  And for the private sector, “patient capital” needed to start up projects is difficult to access or unavailable.  Finally, capacity building at both the local and national level remains a significant gap.

While the goal is implementation at scale, transformational change takes time, and is measured in years not months.   It is important for all stakeholders, including donors, to have realistic time horizons and to manage expectations accordingly—including a willingness to make long-term commitments to REDD+ programs, and consider long-term strategies (e.g. tax incentives, strengthening legal frameworks, making institutional changes, enabling long-term investments).

REDD cannot be implemented by the private sector, government, or civil society alone.  Pilots may be more agile in testing diversified approaches and policies, but still need the cooperation from national government to do so.  In this regard, bringing together constituencies in settings such as the workshop can be effective.  Most agreed that the dialogue at the workshop was timely, important, and would be useful to convene such discussions more frequently both in a regional setting, but also domestically within REDD countries.  Learning from one’s own country and what is being implemented was noted as important.  And all agreed that better communication is needed.

There is a need to both inform, and be informed by, international negotiations.  There is a challenge for REDD+ to find convergence between the emerging global framework (with all its complexities) and realities on the ground, where countries are striving to keep REDD+ simple and practical.  Finding a middle ground where the two strike a balance will determine the future effectiveness of REDD and its success.

Is linking pilots to national processes a challenge or opportunity?  While the discussions appeared to suggest there are currently more challenges than opportunities in implementing REDD+ at multiple levels, participants agreed that opportunities are inherently embedded in the challenges highlighted.  There was strong interest in lessons that can be learned from pilots at local and subnational levels, and agreement on the need to promote such pilots as part of developing national REDD+ frameworks.


Workshop Documents

Final Report “Linking Local REDD+ Projects to National REDD+ Strategies in Africa”

Agenda item Document

Panel 1: Addressing drivers of deforestation and forest degradation through local level projects


Panel 2: Linking projects to national REDD+ processes


Panel 3: Challenges and Opportunities of nesting project/programs into a national REDD+ strategy design

4 Wrap-up Panel of Experts

Other documents