Envisioning REDD+ in a post-Paris era: between evolving expectations and current practice

Esther Turnhout*, Aarti Gupta, Janice Weatherley-Singh, Marjanneke J. Vijge, Jessica de Koning, Ingrid J. Visseren-Hamakers, Martin Herold, Markus Lederer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


From its advent in 2005 within global climate change negotiations, reducing carbon emissions from deforestation and other forest-related activities (so-called REDD+) has been experimented with in developing country contexts for over a decade now, with a wide array of expectations coming to be associated with it. Three consecutive conceptualizations are identifiable: carbon-centered, where REDD+ is primarily a climate mitigation strategy; co-benefits-centered, where REDD+ becomes a triple win solution for climate, biodiversity and communities; and landscape-centered, where REDD+ activities are embedded in integrated sustainable land-use approaches. In assessing such evolving expectations against existing REDD+ experiences, a mixed picture emerges. Some expectations, specifically relating to forest carbon financing, are not being adequately met, while others, notably the delivery of co-benefits, hold out more promise. Yet this also highlights a potential paradox facing REDD+. While there is growing recognition that co-benefit generation is key, and that piece-meal, forest-carbon focused REDD+ interventions are unlikely to address the complex causes of tropical forest loss, forest carbon is still being foregrounded in measuring and reporting on REDD+ performance, and in generating results-based payments (even as these aspects remain challenging). This implies, however, that the future of REDD+ may lie not in one conceptualization coming to dominate, but rather in co-existence of heterogeneous practices. REDD+ may end up as a patchwork of projects and practices with different foci and financing mechanisms. Although this cannot prevent trade-offs, such a heterodox REDD+ may provide building blocks for the polycentric governance of the world's remaining tropical forests.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere425
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalWiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Biodiversity
  • Climate change
  • Deforestation
  • Developing countries
  • Economic and social effects
  • Land use


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