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REDD+ Law Project

The role of sustainable land management in Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation


About the REDD+ Law Project

Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation and the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries (REDD+) has emerged out of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)/Kyoto Protocol negotiations.  It is one of several different strategies to address climate change that Parties to the UNFCCC have developed as part of their mitigation commitments. [1]  Whilst the UNFCCC expressly recognises the importance of sinks in the removal of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere in its foundational principles and commitments, [2] the scope of a REDD+ mechanism has only taken form in the last 7 years (officially being established in 2010). [3]

REDD+ is primarily intended to be a mechanism to channel funding (both public and private) for reducing emissions from the forest sector; however, its implementation is also expected to have numerous co-benefits.  It is therefore worth noting the potential contribution of REDD+ initiatives to the post-2015 development agenda, [4] which includes but is not limited to climate change. 

As an international policy, REDD+ relies on national implementation and requires countries to consider numerous issues.  In order to implement REDD+ initiatives and manage the financial flows linked to them, countries need to design appropriate policy frameworks which in turn need to be supported by robust legal and institutional structures.  Such frameworks could build on existing laws and institutions (such as those linked to forest law and governance), and/or require new law making (for example, to establish benefit distribution systems).  It is important to note that legal and governance issues are relevant in the context of a jurisdictional, nested or project approach to REDD+, and need to be considered whether REDD+ finance is delivered through a non-market or market-based approach. 

Countries seeking to implement REDD+ will need to consider all issues within the context of their unique national circumstances.  The REDD+ Law Project was established by Baker & McKenzie and the Cambridge Centre for Climate Change Mitigation Research (University of Cambridge) for this purpose.  To date, the REDD+ Law Project has worked with Governments, civil society and the private sector to complete work in Kenya, Cambodia and Indonesia.


Selected outputs of the REDD+ Law Project (to date)

General information about REDD+

  • A Policy Brief regarding the development of national REDD+ policy and legal frameworks is found here.  This work was generously sponsored by the Swedish Ministry of the Environment.
  • A Working Paper addressing the legal aspects of benefit sharing for REDD+ is found here.  This work was generously sponsored by the Australian Government’s Department of the Environment.

REDD+ in Kenya

  • The full Report produced as part of the REDD+ Law Project’s first phase of engagement in Kenya entitled Creating an Enabling Legal Environment for REDD+ Investments in Kenya can be found here.  This work was generously sponsored by the Swedish Ministry of the Environment.
  • A Briefing Paper providing an overview of REDD+ in Kenya is available here.
  • A Briefing Paper outlining the different forest carbon projects in Kenya is available here.
  • A Working Paper discussing the potential role of climate-smart agriculture in Kenya’s national REDD+ strategy can be downloaded here.
  • A Briefing Paper explaining the land and environmental governance related to REDD+ implementation in Kenya is available here.
  • A summary table providing a snapshot of land tenure categories and governing laws in Kenya is available here.  Expanded tables providing further details of land tenure classifications in Kenya can be downloaded here.
  • Explaining the regulatory framework for managing public finance in Kenya (including frameworks regarding transparency) is found here, relevant because it will apply to international REDD+ payments (whether from multilateral funding instruments or bilateral partnerships).
  • Providing the background context and technical information relevant to the private sector’s engagement in REDD+ in Kenya, a brief overview of Kenya’s commercial laws is available here.  An overview of business structures available under Kenyan law is also available here.
  • The UNFCCC requests countries to address gender considerations as part of REDD+ implementation, and this is also an implied requirement of the Cancun safeguards.  Kenya's constitutional and statutory requirements regarding gender equality (including women's land rights) are therefore important components of REDD+ implementation.  A Briefing Paper on this topic is available here.
  • Kenya’s constitutional history provides insight into the development of Kenya’s legal system, and a briefing paper on the topic is available here.

REDD+ in Cambodia

  • A Policy Brief regarding carbon rights and benefit sharing for REDD+ in Cambodia can be found here. 
  • A Briefing Paper providing background information regarding the policies, laws, institutions and initiatives linked to REDD+ in Cambodia is available here.  This work was generously sponsored by Cambridge Conservation Initiative.





[1] Under UNFCCC Article 4(1)(d).

[2] Article 4(1)(d) of the UNFCCC provides that Parties shall “promote sustainable management, and promote and cooperate in the conservation and enhancement, as appropriate, of sinks and reservoirs of all greenhouse gases not controlled by the Montreal Protocol, including biomass, forests and oceans as well as other terrestrial, coastal and marine ecosystems.” 

[3] Via the Cancun Decisions (Decision 1/CP.16/2010 - "The Cancun Agreements").

[4] A key outcome of the Rio+20 Conference (2012) was the agreement by member States to launch and engage in an ongoing process to develop a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  These are intended to build on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and are expected to be integrated into the post-2015 development agenda (ie. as the transition point from the end of the MDGs’ mandate).  Inter alia, the new SDGs are expected to prioritise measures to address climate change, forest loss and poverty alleviation. 

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4CMR has finished its cycle, and has been replaced by the Cambridge Centre for Environment, Energy and Natural Resource Governance (C-EENRG). C-EENRG is also located in the Department of Land Economy, with a core mission to "conduct integrative research on the governance of environmental transitions, understood as social and technological processes driven by environmental constraints that lead to fundamental changes in social organisation."

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