Full Circle: REDD and Indigenous People – Past, Present, and Future

Do you find REDD confusing, opaque, and obtuse? Do you wonder where it came from, how it evolved, and how it impacts indigenous people? If so, feel free to check out our emerging series on “Indigenous REDD” – or download a booklet containing our year-to-date coverage of this fascinating subject.

8 June 2015 | BONN | Germany | It’s hard to imagine a set of activities more poorly-understood than REDD, which stands for “Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation”, and generally involves using carbon finance to save endangered forests.

Conceived as a means of funneling private-sector money into conservation, REDD has evolved into an entire suite of activities and financing mechanisms that harness both private and public finance to slow deforestation. Most REDD initiatives have worked at the local level only, usually by providing alternate income streams for the rural poor, but the current trend is towards more ambitious efforts that cover entire jurisdictions and harness carbon finance to purge deforestation from corporate supply chains.

Two years ago, the Latin American indigenous federation COICA (Coordinadora de las Organizaciones Indígenas de la Cuenca Amazónica) began to explore a program it calls “Indigenous REDD”, which aims to blend carbon finance with indigenous “Life Plans”. They’re now piloting programs on indigenous territories across the Amazon, and in January we began to explore these emerging efforts in a series of articles on Ecosystem Marketplace.

What’s emerged is a clear chronicle of the history of REDD – beginning with the very first experiments in the late 1980s, continuing through the evolution of rigorous methodologies, and culminating with the current jurisdictional proposals being discussed in Bonn and how they dovetail with emerging efforts to purge deforestation from corporate supply chains.

Written in plain English for a general audience, these stories don’t claim to provide a comprehensive understanding of REDD in all its intricacy and iterations, but they should bring you far enough into the weeds to understand the issues without getting in over your head – and they’ll provide a solid foundation for understanding our coverage as it unfolds between now and the year-end climate talks in Paris.

We have also folded several of these efforts into a booklet that we’re distributing at the mid-year climate talks here in Bonn. Entitled “Full Circle: REDD and Indigenous People – Past, Present, and Future”. You can also download the booklet here – scroll down for details.

We already have two more stories in the works from here in Bonn, and several more will surely follow before year-end talks in Paris. If you’d like to keep up on this series as it unfolds, please subscribe to the Ecosystem Marketplace eNewsletter. At this link, you will be able to subscribe to all of our newsletters. The Marketplace eNewsletter provided a monthly summary of all Ecosystem Marketplace content, while the Forest Carbon Newsletter provides all of our forest-related content, but aggregated content from other sources. If you only want to receive the stories relevant to our Indigenous REDD series, send an e-mail to Steve Zwick at SZwick@ecosystemmarketplace.com


REDD Dawn: The Birth of Forest Carbon looks back at the genesis of REDD, which was conceived in 1988 by the World Resources Institute. It offers a brief introduction to the science of carbon accounting and an overview of REDD within the climate talks.

Indigenous People Explore Many Shades of REDD looks at how REDD has evolved on indigenous territories to-date, and how indigenous leaders believe it must change to truly deliver on its potential.

Chocó-Darién: What Projects Can – and Cannot – Achieve offers a deep dive into a project developed by the Afro-Colombian Tolo River People – and a primer on how REDD plays out on the ground.

Indigenous Life Plans and Carbon Finance: Two Sides of the Same Coin? examines the symbiotic relationship between indigenous “Life Plans” and REDD. 

The Surui Forest Carbon Project: Lifeline For A Life Plan offers a detailed glimpse inside a pioneering indigenous project built on an indigenous Life Plan. Initially posted in 2013, it’s a bit dated, but still a good read. 

Jurisdictional REDD: Long Deferred, Soon Delivered examines the state of “jurisdictional” REDD programs – government-to-government programs that are designed to reduce deforestation across an entire state or country.

REDD+ And Green Supply Chains: The Yin And Yang Of Saving Forests examines role that REDD finance can play in helping to purge deforestation from corporate supply-chains.

Click here to download Full Circle: REDD and Indigenous People – Past, Present, and Future, which is a PDF containing several of these stories.

Steve Zwick

I edit Ecosystem Marketplace, which is a news service focused on environmental finance. With this blog, I hope to offer coverage that is a bit lighter and more holistic than what we offer on EM.

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