Guided by the Cancun Agreements, made under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, countries implement REDD+ through a phased approach which can take several years to complete. Most of the work takes place between the initial readiness step and the final stage of full implementation and payment for results.
In this phase, countries develop a national strategy for implementing REDD+. To do this they draw upon broad stakeholder input and on research, such as studies on the drivers of deforestation or on legal reforms.
Countries also develop the institutional framework to achieve the strategy. This framework encompasses the policies, capacity, infrastructure and institutions needed to put REDD+ into practice, demonstrate that REDD+ activities are effective, and manage payments for results.
- Developing national forest monitoring systems. These use remote sensing and/or ground-based approaches to monitor REDD+ activities, estimate forest carbon stocks, forest-related greenhouse gas emissions and changes in forest area.
- Establishing reference emission levels. These are the baseline levels of forest sector greenhouse gas emissions, against which a country's REDD+ performance will be assessed.
- Developing a credible system for measurement, reporting and verification (MRV). This will assess the effects of REDD+ activities on forest carbon and provide the basis for results-based payments. MRV systems can also track non-carbon benefits and so will provide information on how well REDD+ activities respect social and environmental safeguards.
- Building technical, institutional and human capacity.
- Establishing safeguards and grievance mechanisms.
- Clarifying rights to forests, land and carbon.
In this phase, countries establish, improve or scale up the policies and measures they have designed to address the direct and indirect drivers of deforestation and forest degradation. Countries differ in the extent of change needed and the speed at which they can implement change. In most cases the necessary reforms will take many years.
In particular, it will take time and resources to achieve:
- Improved governance
- Clearer land tenure
- Effective land-use planning
- Equitable benefit sharing
- Robust safeguard monitoring
Countries also launch projects and programmes that aim to control emissions from forest degradation and loss at a jurisdictional scale. Pilot projects, often supported by bilateral and multilateral donors, enable countries to test their systems for measurement, reporting and verification and for receiving and distributing results-based payments.
In this final phase, REDD+ activities and their effect on forest carbon are measured and verified each year. The aim of the international REDD+ framework is to incentivise emission reductions beyond an agreed baseline termed the reference level.