Summary report, 12 October 2011

11th Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI) Dialogue on Forests, Governance and Climate Change

The Eleventh Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI) Dialogue was held on Wednesday 12 October in London, the United Kingdom (UK), and was organized by RRI, the Forest Peoples Programme (FPP) and Forest Trends. The Dialogue convened under the theme of the “Status and Role of Public and Private Finance to Reduce Forest Loss and Degradation.”

The meeting examined the current state of public and private financial mechanisms for reducing emissions from deforestation and land degradation, including conservation (REDD+), with the aim of contributing to developing an updated vision for the deployment of finance to reduce forest loss and degradation, while respecting the rights and development needs of local people. The Dialogue discussed lessons learned regarding the possibilities of a global forest carbon market, and the scope for individual projects.

More than 80 participants, including representatives from governments, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), international organizations and the academic community, attended the Dialogue. Participants convened in three panel sessions for discussions on: financing for forests and climate in the context of a global crises; perspectives from communities and indigenous peoples on how financing reaches the ground; and the next steps for reducing emissions and promoting livelihoods, in Durban and beyond.

Following the Dialogue, several participants attended the Seminar on Forests, Governance and Climate Change, chaired by UK MP Martin Horwood. They presented the results of the Dialogue and heard an address by Stephen O’Brien, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for International Development, UK, followed by a discussion session.


RRI is a global coalition of international, regional and community organizations engaged in forest conservation, research and development. The initiative aims to promote greater global action on pro-poor forest policy and market reforms to increase household and community ownership, control and benefits from forests and trees.

The series of RRI Dialogues on Forests, Governance and Climate Change is designed to foster critical reflection and learning on forest governance, the rights of forest communities and indigenous peoples, and forest tenure in the context of global action to combat climate change, including REDD+. This series builds on the discussions of the International Conference on Rights, Forests and Climate Change, convened by RRI and Rainforest Foundation-Norway in October 2008. Since July 2009, the Dialogues have been held in London (UK), Washington D.C. (US), and The Hague (The Netherlands), with regionally-focused events in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), San Salvador (El Salvador) and Kathmandu (Nepal). Previous dialogues have focused on a variety of topics, including the role of forest governance in achieving reduced emissions from deforestation, the status of forests in the global negotiations on climate change, the implications of the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC COP 15) in December 2009 in Copenhagen for forest communities and indigenous peoples, and the challenges of food security and climate change. For more information on all of these events, visit:


FROM BALI TO PANAMA: The idea of making payments to discourage deforestation and forest degradation was originally discussed in the negotiations leading to the Kyoto Protocol to the UNFCCC, although it was not ultimately included in that treaty. The REDD concept subsequently developed from a proposal in 2005 by the Coalition of Rainforest Nations. Subsequent negotiations resulted in the 2007 Bali Action Plan (BAP), which included a call for “policy approaches and positive incentives on issues relating to reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries; and the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries” (paragraph 1b(iii)), which is known as “REDD+”.

Cancún: At UNFCCC COP 16, in Cancún, Mexico, in 2010, parties adopted the Cancún Agreement (Decision 1/CP.16), which includes text on REDD+. The Agreement affirms that, provided adequate and predictable support is forthcoming, developing countries should aim to slow, halt and reverse forest cover and carbon loss. It encourages developing country parties to contribute to mitigation actions in the forest sector. The text also requests the UNFCCC’s Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) to develop a work programme to identify, inter alia, drivers of deforestation and degradation, and methodologies for estimating emissions and removals from these activities. The Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action (AWG-LCA) under the UNFCCC is tasked with exploring financing options for the full implementation of results-based actions and to report on this at COP 17, in Durban, South Africa in late 2011.

In Cancún, parties also agreed to establish several new institutions and processes, including the Green Climate Fund (Decision 1/CP.16), which was designated as the new operating entity of the Convention’s financial mechanism and is to be governed by a board of 24 members. Parties agreed to set up a Transitional Committee tasked with the Fund’s detailed design, and established a Standing Committee to assist the COP with respect to the financial mechanism. They also recognized the commitment by developed countries to provide US$30 billion of fast-start finance in 2010-2012, and to jointly mobilize US$100 billion per year by 2020.

Bonn: The negotiating session of the UNFCCC took place in Bonn, Germany, from 6-17 June 2011 and included the 34th sessions of the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) and SBSTA, as well as the second parts of AWG-LCA 14 and the 16th meeting of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP 16). Under the AWG-LCA, substantive work began, based on Decision 1/CP.16. Parties agreed that notes prepared by the facilitators of the AWG-LCA informal groups be carried forward to the third part of AWG-LCA 14. While progress was made on some issues, many felt that the outcomes were relatively modest.

Panama: The negotiating session of the UNFCCC took place from 1-7 October 2011 in Panama City, Panama. The conference included the third part of AWG-KP 16 and the third part of AWG-LCA 14. Parties addressed REDD+ financing in an informal group, which produced a non-paper, referred to as a “placeholder text,” containing elements for operational parts of a draft decision.

Reports of UNFCCC meetings can be found at:


On Wednesday 12 October, Andy White, RRI, opened the Dialogue in the Queen Elizabeth II Centre, Westminster, and explained its purpose was to discuss the state of forest finance in the arena of climate change, take stock of lessons learned, and consider ways forward. He said disagreements were likely on several issues, including: whether or not forest-related carbon markets are a good idea; whether they will work; and whether indigenous peoples’ rights should be recognized unequivocally, or need to be renegotiated. White said to identify solutions; candid and constructive conversations are necessary.

Francesco Martone, FPP, urged participants to consider implementation, including ways to ensure opportunities for, as opposed to, threats to indigenous peoples.  He noted important discussions in the recent negotiating session of the UNFCCC in Panama, including: the need to promote sustainable livelihoods, and respect and recognition of indigenous peoples’ rights; consideration of direct access to REDD+ finance; and support for community-based initiatives. Emphasizing the need to respect land, resources and rights of indigenous peoples, he said the term “private sector” should also apply to community-owned enterprises. He said clear and solid governance systems at the national level, with social and environmental safeguards in place, are needed to deliver results on REDD+.


This session was chaired by Frances Seymour, Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR). She said the purpose of the panel would be to reassess the state of play of forest climate finance at the global level, including the likely trajectory of carbon markets, and consider whether there could be a market for forest carbon at all. She invited panelists to keep in mind the changing context, including the state of the UNFCCC negotiations; evidence of the mounting climate crisis; multiple debt and economic crises affecting politics and markets; and the rise of prices in the commodities markets, with impacts on the economic and political drivers of deforestation.

Jeffrey Hatcher, RRI, said the 2006 Stern Report and the 2008 Eliasch Review pointed to the opportunity of addressing climate change by dealing with emissions from deforestation and land degradation at relatively low cost through compensating people for protecting forests and for opportunity costs. However, he noted that some felt the approach: did not take into account what people would actually pay; commercialized a natural resource; and allowed developed countries to offset their emissions without reducing them.

Hatcher said there has been little action on land tenure reform under REDD+, and emphasized the importance of political will and governance in reversing deforestation. He called on panelists to identify a near-term strategy to reduce carbon emissions and promote livelihoods, and ways to leverage existing or planned investments.

Benoit Bosquet, Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF), World Bank, agreed that the global carbon market was going through a major crisis. He said the World Bank’s experience with the BioCarbon Fund has been frustrating, pointing to the need for less cumbersome and better-streamlined processes if REDD+ is to succeed. He said private sector finance, of which carbon markets is only a small part, will be needed and a key challenge will be to create the enabling environment so that private sector involvement does not result in land grabbing, but instead helps secure tenure and local knowledge of indigenous communities. He said the funds under the FCPF have been disbursed slowly because moving money to the right goals takes time, and because of the limited absorptive capacity in many developing countries.

Michael Jenkins, Forest Trends, said that neither involuntary, nor regulated carbon markets have the potential to save the world’s forests, stating that both are pieces in a larger puzzle. He noted the growth in forest carbon markets was surprising, observing that there is a shift from NGO project developers, with the entrance of private sector developments into the space. Jenkins noted significant obstacles, including: the current rule of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme, which disallows trade in forests; the need to get the price of carbon right, in order to enable necessary work on the ground; and the need to move beyond fast-track and bridge financing for forests.      

Lou Munden, The Munden Project, cited "irrational exuberance" as a fundamental driver of risk taking, and therefore an essential trait of successful entrepreneurs. He explained the availability of private finance was tremendous, but that it is currently misunderstood. Drawing a distinction between speculation and investment, Munden underscored the need for investment in forests, and to ensure the incentives of the investor are aligned with environmental and development objectives. He outlined three forms of saleable activities: those obviously transferable into cash flows, such as forest products; transfer systems, such as payment for environmental services; and making the availability of investment capital for deforesting conditional on adhering to certain standards and objectives.

Matthew Wyatt, UK Department for International Development (DFID), highlighted the need for transparency in aid and climate finance. Citing the work of the World Bank and CIFOR, he stressed the need to invest in strengthening the evidence base related to financing for forests and climate. Wyatt discussed the need for investment in both new technologies and new partnerships. He said DIFD could play a role in brokering partnerships, which may become attractive to private capital leading to scaling-up.

Julio Martinez, Federación por la Autodeterminación de los Pueblos Indígenas (FAPI), Paraguay, discussed his organization’s work in protecting the values and safeguarding the rights of local and indigenous peoples. He explained FAPI’s role in attending UNFCCC negotiations and lobbying the Paraguayan government to protect human rights. Martinez said key challenges included “double-edged projects” such as the development of natural medicines using forest products, which can lead to land grabbing.

DISCUSSION: During the discussion participants focused on: the need to identify new ways to value our natural resources and building the value of natural resources into national accounting; carbon as one component in an array of emerging environmental values; the need to move from theoretical analysis to real market signals; and identifying ways to incentivize investors.


Jan McAlpine, UN Forum on Forests (UNFF), chaired the session and said the discussion on REDD+ has helped bring people back into the story of the forests.

Justin Kenrick, FPP, emphasized the need to secure indigenous peoples’ rights in order to secure forests. He said institutions such as the World Bank were reluctant to recognize indigenous peoples right to free and prior consent, emphasizing that industrial practices, rather than forest peoples, were the key drivers of deforestation. Kenrick cited examples and studies showing that community-managed forests were better protected, and emphasized the need to secure forests through recognition of the rights of indigenous peoples, improving livelihoods, and protecting human rights.

Chair McAlpine urged panelists to focus on solutions, by providing examples of successful projects involving indigenous communities, and how they could be scaled-up.

Roberto Espinoza, Asociatión Interétnica de Desarrollo de la Selva Peruana (AIDESEP), Peru, stated, in a Skype video address, that REDD+ finance was not reaching communities in Peru. He said changes in the regulatory framework, particularly with regard to land ownership, were necessary. He called on the UK government to ensure that the funds it channels through institutions such as the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank will enable communities to reclaim their land and promote community forestry.

Andy Inglis, Plan Vivo, introduced his organization’s standard for designing and certifying community-based payment for ecosystem services activities, for small-scale farmers and forest-dependent communities. He explained the goal of Plan Vivo is to ensure that funds reached communities, noting 60% of the carbon funds raised are channeled to local people. Providing an example of scalability, he said that, in Uganda, Plan Vivo started with just 30 farmers, but now has 1000 farmers and continues to grow. He emphasized the need for building local capacity, local incentives, and performance payments, while reducing reliance on expensive international expertise and consultants. He also stressed the need for soft investments, such as building the facilitative skills of forest officials.

Daniel Zarin, Climate and Land Use Alliance, described the slow pace at which finance was reaching the ground, and problems in implementation. He said, although the Amazon Fund in Brazil had a tremendous impact on policy-making, implementation on the ground has been slow and unsatisfactory. He also described Pro Ambiente, a Brazilian initiative on payment for ecosystem services and social welfare programmes, where an impressive institutional structure and framework was created, but funds were lacking. He agreed that land tenure should be at the centre of REDD+ implementation, to scale-up institutional change.

Tunde Morakinyo, Cross River State Forestry Commission, Nigeria, explained that Cross River State has 50% forest cover, and that, 15 years ago, DIFD invested in community-based forestry management. Morakinyo explained that, despite the funding being cut, community forest committees remain, and that these committees lobbied the state and national government to keep REDD+ on the agenda. He noted the difficulty in getting money to community initiatives, citing a four-five year time lag, and urged participants to consider ways to deliver finance to communities more quickly. He said sub-national entities should be the focus of financing for forests, as they are more accessible to communities, and can be more accountable to donors.   

DISCUSSION: The ensuing discussion focused on: the need for money to be delivered to communities without huge transaction costs; that land tenure should be central to REDD+; and the need to consider REDD+ within a broader landscape.


Peter Clutton-Brock, speaking on behalf of Gregory Barker, UK Minister of State for Energy and Climate Change, explained that markets reply on forests, but don’t currently capture their value. He said REDD+ finance has not been dispersed quickly enough, and that robust guidelines for monitoring systems must be agreed in Durban, to “open the door” to large-scale finance. Barker underscored that project-based aid is too slow, and that strategic interventions are needed. He stated that REDD+ programmes must collaborate with key supply chains, exemplifying palm oil, beef and soy companies as entities that donors need to work with. Minister Barker further asserted that securing land tenure can provide those with limited means with enduring natural assets which they can improve and bequeath to subsequent generations, and that this approach to poverty alleviation, contradicts those who say that the poor face a choice between higher incomes and a better environment. He said that, regardless of whether or not REDD+ enters the carbon market, securing fair land tenure must be the foundation of REDD, for ethical reasons and because it is crucial in attracting private sector investment. Looking forward to the 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, also called Rio+20), Barker stressed this is an opportunity to drive forward work on forests, combining efforts on REDD+ with private sector supply chain initiatives. 


Peter Riggs, Ford Foundation, chaired the session and raised several potential next steps for reducing emissions and promoting livelihoods, including: cleaning up the timber supply chain; moving from a state- to a sub-national level; cleaning up supply chains through market differentiation and market access approaches; and the increased use of degraded lands. He noted the need to reduce risks associated with finance for public and private investors, as well as communities.    

Marcedonio Cortave, Asociasión de Comunidades Forestales de Petén (ACOFOP), Guatemala, spoke on community forest management as an alternative approach, aimed at providing livelihoods to indigenous communities working in forests. He said it was now proven that community-managed forests were better protected, for instance with fewer fires, because of the benefits they provide – including livelihoods, and opportunities for health and infrastructure. He expressed concern that, in some places, REDD+ activities are rapidly rising despite the lack of basic information regarding REDD+ among communities. He called for greater recognition of the role of communities in forest protection, and investment in community development.

Matthieu Yela Bonketo, Cercle pour la Défense de l’Environnement, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), said that as in Guatemala, REDD+ discussions were moving rapidly in some circles in the DRC, but local communities were not adequately informed on what REDD+ is or on the national decision-making process regarding REDD+. He said REDD+ is both an opportunity and a threat to the DRC. He stressed the need to inform local communities and involve them in the evolution of REDD+. He also raised the issue of property rights over forest carbon, raising the question of whether the carbon belongs to the communities who have rights, or to the funders of REDD+ projects. 

Jan Maarten Dros, Solidaridad Network, The Netherlands, said his organization convenes roundtables for farmers producing tropical commodities like palm oil, soy and cocoa, to address the expansion of these crops and the resulting deforestation. He said incentives were needed to stimulate farmers to join sustainability initiatives.

Kent Wheiler, Weyerhaeuser, noting that provision of electricity is one of the most effective ways to reduce poverty, said most people without electricity live in places with productive land but huge areas of degraded forests. He proposed using the degraded land to produce biomass, for biomass power plants, outlining advantages including reduced transport costs and emissions and local job creation.

DISCUSSION: The ensuing discussion topics included the need for legislating rights to carbon, with some participants stating that carbon rights should belong to those who maintain and look after the ecosystems. On the potential sale of carbon rights, some suggested communities lack sufficient information on the true worth of the rights, and could become victims of market opportunism, with others adding that communities should avoid entering carbon markets until they are fully informed.


In closing, Michael Jenkins acknowledged that the climate debate has brought forest issues back to the fore. He noted the need to recognize land rights as central to REDD+, as well as the tension between the urgency of the matter, and the need to ensure forest finance is done well. Jenkins emphasized the role of indigenous people as a stewarding force, and suggested creating a separate fund to support this. He also noted the importance of information and transparency, and suggested an analysis of who owns the world’s forest carbon.

Andy White thanked participants for their contribution and closed the meeting at 4:55pm.    


Martin Horwood, UK Member of Parliament, chaired this seminar in Portcullis House, Westminster, highlighting the importance of indigenous people in managing forest resources. Andy White summarized the Eleventh RRI Dialogue, including its efforts at taking stock of the state of the private and public commitments, state of implementation of REDD+, and potential next steps.


Session One Chair Frances Seymour, summarized the session’s discussion, focusing on the need for investment, as opposed to speculative finance, and for an emphasis on performance-based finance.

Session Two Chair Jan McAlpine, summarized the session’s discussion, focusing on the tension between the rights and needs of communities of forest peoples, and those of their governments.

Session Three Chair Peter Riggs, summarized the session’s discussion, noting the: importance of information flows; critical role of free prior informed consent; and the need for clarity around forest rights.


Jennifer Rubis, Indigenous Peoples Network of Malaysia (JOAS), Malaysia, discussed the varied interpretations of the meaning of forests to different people, and highlighted the need to recognize the complexity of forest uses to indigenous peoples, such as supermarkets, orchards and burial grounds. She said there are very few forests in the developing world that are untouched by humans, noting that forest management systems are pervasive, and that most developing countries lack clear demarcation of forest boundaries. Rubis underscored that, to avoid failure, REDD+ must recognize this complexity. She also highlighted the need to move from recognizing indigenous peoples as targets and beneficiaries, to being central actors.     

Lou Munden emphasized the need to design systems in a way that incentivize what people do best. He said rights represent an incentive system, and called for analysis to create tenure rights as an incentive, but also to quantify the absence of tenure risks as a risk to investors. He emphasized the need to ensure the markets function properly.


Stephen O’Brien, UK Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for International Development, stressed the commitment of the UK government to: increase official development assistance levels; support climate change activities; and promote innovation, transparency and effectiveness in forestry management. He described projects in Indonesia and Ghana, complemented by legislation in the UK and Europe, to ban the entry of illegally logged timber. He said the UK has earmarked funds for forest management, and recently approved a new forest governance programme.

DISCUSSION: In the ensuing discussion, Munden asked how the principle of giving a “hand up, rather than a hand out” was expressed in UK policy. O’Brien responded that actions were needed at both the macro- and micro- levels. A participant from Cameroon asked how women could benefit, as they often lack access to both rights and credit, for instance to develop products from non-wood forest produce. O’Brien agreed that women should be at the heart of activities, as what they care about is commensurate with the goal of protecting forests.  He stressed the need for clarity on who owns what resources, citing the example of Tanzania, where he said nationalization of land stunted opportunity and led to stagnation of the economy, despite political stability.

Chair Horwood closed the session, noting that some tribal forest people were rich in resources, but needed support to protect that wealth, while at the same time benefiting themselves and the planet. Participants then concluded the day’s events by gathering in a reception in the MacMillan Room of Portcullis House.

The Rights and Resources Initiative Dialogue Bulletin is a publication of the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) <>, publishers of the Earth Negotiations Bulletin © <>. This issue was written and edited by Melanie Ashton and Anju Sharma. The Digital Editor is Leonie Gordon. The Editor is Leonie Gordon <>. The Director of IISD Reporting Services is Langston James “Kimo” Goree VI <>. Funding for coverage of this meeting has been provided by the Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI). IISD can be contacted at 161 Portage Avenue East, 6th Floor, Winnipeg, Manitoba R3B 0Y4, Canada; tel: +1-204-958-7700; fax: +1-204-958-7710. The opinions expressed in the Bulletin are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of IISD. Excerpts from the Bulletin may be used in other publications with appropriate academic citation. Electronic versions of the Bulletin are sent to e-mail distribution lists (HTML and PDF format) and can be found on the Linkages WWW-server at <>. For information on the Bulletin, including requests to provide reporting services, contact the Director of IISD Reporting Services at <>, +1-646-536-7556 or 300 East 56th St., 11D, New York, New York 10022, United States of America.


National governments
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Negotiating blocs
European Union
Non-state coalitions