REDD+ Finance: Who’s Counting?

Marigold Norman and Charlene Watson

Governments around the world are investing in initiatives that intend to conserve and restore tropical forests under the REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation plus conservation) banner, but there is no comprehensive picture of where the money is going or what it’s doing. Here’s a look at global efforts to track REDD+ funding.

Previous Coverage

Last year, we launced another series built on the findings of REDDX alone. Learn more about the initiative HERE

Part One: Tracking REDD+ Finance: Separating The Payers From The Posers provides an overview of the project and laysout its objectives.

Part Two: REDD Funding: The Horror Story That Isn’t examines the cumbersome accounting behind international aid in general and REDD finance in particular.

Part Three: Germany Beats Fast Start Finance But Sees Need For More Scale reviews the results of Germany’s Fast Start Finance period and reasons why they failed to meet their REDD+ commitment targets but succeeded in other areas.

Part Four: REDD+ Finance Leaves Pilot Projects In Limbo tells the story of a Ghanaian businessman seeking to launch a pilot project but is struggling to find funding from both international donors and private investors.

Part Five: The World Bank And The UN-REDD: Big Names, Narrow Focus provides a detailed overview of the biggest funding efforts of REDD+ as well as their interactions with each other.

Part Six: The Congo Basin Forest Fund Steps Up For REDD+ Piloting in DRC describes how the Congo Basin Forest Fund functions, who are the funders and lessons learned.

Part Seven: Brazil, Indonesia, And DRC Cooperate On Deforestation, See Future In REDD takes a high-level view of the impact of multilateral financing efforts on Brazil, Indonesia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo to date, and examines the prospects for REDD moving forward.

Governments around the world are investing in initiatives that intend to conserve and restore tropical forests under the REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation plus conservation) banner, but there is no comprehensive picture of where the money is going or what it’s doing. Here’s a look at global efforts to track REDD+ funding.

25 July 2013 | Finance for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation plus conservation (REDD+) activities has been flowing for at least five years now. But what can we really say about how much finance there has been, where it has come from, where it is going, and what it is being spent on? Climate Funds Update and Forest Trends’ REDDX has been promoting cross-pollination among various REDD+ finance initiatives in an attempt to answer these questions. In the coming weeks, we will hear from several initiatives reporting on REDD+ finance.

Recognizing that we can dramatically slow climate change by saving tropical forests, developed countries have pledged billions to pilot REDD+ and create accounting mechanisms that will support preparation for REDD+ in the longer term. No one, however, really knows how much of that money has actually been deployed – let alone where and how. With more information on REDD+ finance, a better understanding of REDD+ finance flows can help national governments assess existing gaps and direct REDD+ investments to the most efficient mechanisms and activities with the greatest returns.

While several efforts are working to track REDD+ finance, no two efforts seem to come up with the same numbers. The REDD+ Partnership’s Voluntary REDD+ Databasefor example reports a global total of US$6.27 billion in contributions between 2006 and 2022, while the Climate Funds Update, a project of the Overseas Development Institute, reports US$4.2 billion pledged through dedicated climate funds and initiatives since 2008.

Why the Discrepancy?

Following billions across the globe is no easy task; we know this from efforts to track climate finance more broadly. Tracking requires sustained and on-going efforts to source, validate, and present information in a comparable way. The Climate Knowledge Brokers Group is an exemplary initiative working towards this end. Current discrepancies in REDD+ finance numbers reflect different scale, data sources, and focus of the stage and type of finance, different definitions to count ‘REDD+’ activities, and different terminology for whether the money has been spent or not.

For example, as can be seen from the Scale Reported diagram, the Climate Funds Update tracks finance at both the global and national levels, identifying a total global figure of US$1.5 billion in Amazon Fund, Congo Basin Forest Fund, Forest Carbon Partnership Facility and UN-REDD Programme. REDDX on the other hand, does not specifically track global levels of REDD+ finance, instead focusing on public and private ‘commitments’ and ‘disbursements’ at the national level, to present in-depth information on how finance flows from global contributors to the ground in thirteen countries across Latin America, Africa, and Asia Pacific (with national data currently reported for Brazil, Ecuador, Ghana, and Vietnam).

Given that no initiative claims to be comprehensive, the existing REDD+ finance tracking initiatives can and should play complementary roles. They will only succeed by working together and building up a more comprehensive picture of REDD+ finance.

Clarifying complexity

The first achievement of working together will be in clarifying the complexity of the challenge and defining each initiative’s niche within REDD+ finance tracking. The main diagram, Stages of REDD+ Finance Reported, illustrates how different initiatives retain different focus. Climate Funds Update and REDDX, for example, track flows of finance and report information on contributors, climate funds, recipients, and in-country REDD+ projects and/or activities. The REDD Desk, on the other hand, has focused on in-depth analysis and information on the main REDD+ contributors, recipients, and projects/activities highlighting significant political, legal, and historical context for REDD+ in twenty-two countries. The REDD+ Partnership’s Voluntary REDD+ Database is different again, providing information voluntarily reported by contributors, climate funds, and primary recipients including some information on intended REDD+ projects and activities. And the US REDD Finance Database details information on US contributions to all projects and activities that are related to REDD+.

REDD+ Tracking Graph

Over the coming weeks we will ask:

  • Who counts what as REDD+ finance? We will offer recommendations for tracking initiatives to harmonize their approaches so that data is comparable.
  • Who’s open about REDD+ finance? We will examine efforts to bring more transparency to REDD+ finance, both nationally and internationally.
  • What do we know about private sector REDD+ finance? We will consider options to improve our understanding of the role of private actors.

Part of the responsibility to build a more comprehensive picture of REDD+ finance rests with the growing number of initiatives tracking it. Through individually investing in their niche REDD+ tracking areas, while at the same time working together to assess collaborative results, initiatives such as REDDX and Climate Funds Update can reduce confusion to reveal a more accurate and comprehensive picture of the global state of REDD+ finance.

Marigold Norman is a Manager with Forest Trend’s Forest Trade and Finance Program. Her work focuses on tracking public and private funding delivered for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+) activities in thirteen UN REDD+ partner countries.

Charlene Watson is a Research Officer at the Overseas Development Institute; her work focuses on the flows, sources and instruments of climate finance at both the national and international level.

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About This Series

Forest Trends’ REDDX and the Overseas Development Institute’s Climate Funds Update are launching a collaborative series exploring existing efforts to provide transparency to the global efforts to slow climate change by saving forests and reducing greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+). The aim of this series is to identify niches and promote more collaborative approaches that will build up a comprehensive picture of the state of REDD+ policy and finance and lead to more effective gaps and needs analysis.

Part One: REDD+ Finance: Who’s Counting, introduces the series and lays out its goals.

Part Two: REDD+: What You See Isn’t Always What You Get, examines finance accounting in Kenya and Mexico and calls for more civil-society involvement in tracking flows.

Part Three: REDD+ Finance: Lessons From The US explores the different methods of accounting for REDD+ Finance, drawing on examples from the US as well as Norway and the UK.

Part Four
REDD+ Finance: What Do We Know About The Private Sector Contribution? discusses the gap in private sector funding for REDD+ and what can be done about it.

Part Five: REDD+ FInance: Private Lessons For The Public Sphere examines the lessons that policymakers designing tomorrow’s public-sector programs can learn from today’s private-sector projects.

Part Six REDD+ Finance: Where Next? the series’ final installment, provides an overview of steps that need to be taken in order to better understand and track REDD+ Finance.