Keeping forests clean and green

What is REDD?

Everyone knows that forests are our planets’ lungs. However pressure on forests is unrelenting and they are being cut down at a rate much faster then they can recover. Such deforestation produces over 17 per cent of the world’s annual carbon emissions; in fact forestry and logging industries outstrips the entire global transport sector in their emissions. If we are to combat climate change, it is clear that mitigating the impact of such deforestation should be a key priority. To tackle the problem, UN member countries put forward an initiative as part of the Framework Convention on Climate Change. Known as REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation +), it directly links financial incentives for conservation with carbon stored in forests, in effect placing a financial value on forest conservation. REDD+ recognises that forests, as absorbers and stores of carbon, play a critical role in any response to climate change.

Bali to Cancun and beyond

From Bali 2007, to Poznan 2008, on to Copenhagen 2009, and finally Cancun 2010, each climate change summit has tried to finalise a REDD+ scheme to tackle emissions from deforestation and forest degradation. So far countries have committed over US$4 billion to financing REDD+ from 2010 to 2012, and the Copenhagen Accord committed to raise US$100 billion by 2020.

Not everyone, however, believes REDD+ will be an effective means of pursuing climate change mitigation. There are technical fears over how such a scheme might operate; fears that prevention of deforestation in one place might simply move it to another; fears that once the money stops, deforestation will resume; and fears that indigenous people will be displaced.

This all concerns forest governance, and given the size of the funds involved in REDD+, Transparency International (TI) is particularly concerned about governance both of the world financial systems, which will connect to carbon credits, and of the governance of forests. TI’s work with illegal logging shows a strong need for adoption of anti-corruption measures. Many of the target REDD+ countries have poor records when it comes to transparency and accountability. For example, Indonesia stands to earn between US$400 million and US$2 billion a year from REDD+ once it is approved. Papua New Guinea is also attracting significant REDD+ financing. Both countries languish in the bottom third of the TI 2010 Corruption Perceptions Index.

TI and Forestry

TI’s Forest Governance Integrity Programme (FGI), which was started in 2009, focuses on the Asia Pacific region, tackling corruption in logging and poor forest management. This has involved developing a detailed risk map of all areas of the forestry sector, from forest land use policies to licensing, from sawmills, to international timber transport, where corruption might creep in. The risk map was also used as a monitoring tool to keep tabs on weaknesses in forest governance. TI has also identified existing anti-corruption tools and initiatives within countries that can act as examples of good governance. This work was key preparation for the implementation of TI's new programme PAC REDD (Civil Society Capacity Building for Preventative Anti Corruption Measures in Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) in Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and Vietnam.

The goal of PAC REDD is to ensure that whatever form REDD+ financing takes, corruption does not jeopardise a significant chance to reduce carbon emissions or ruin the livelihoods of those who rely on forests to survive. The first regional meeting bringing together TI national chapters took place in Jakarta, Indonesia from 21-24 February 2011.


With billions of dollars allocated to mitigate climate change in Asia Pacific alone, PAC REDD seeks to address corruption risks inherent in such a large influx of funds that will be spent in a short amount of time by a large number of different stakeholders. To do this requires significant monitoring and evaluation capacity.

To this end, PAC REDD will work with civil society organisations in the three countries to build an understanding of anti-corruption tools, preparing them to provide input into the development of locally appropriate REDD+ schemes, and building their capacity to monitor REDD+ mechanisms. Both the governments and private sector in these countries will be important partners in ensuring transparency and accountability are strongly integrated into REDD+ mechanisms.

In addition to capacity building, by the end of the project the FGI expects to be have a collection of best practices in the field of anti-corruption and REDD+. By making these experiences available to the broader climate change community, this will help to ensure that the pursuit of transparency and integrity within REDD+ remains at the top of the agenda.


United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)

Further publications from TI:

To learn more about the Forest Governance Integrity, click here.

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