By Peter Minang and Meine van Noordwijk

The REDD+ process is an internationally agreed mechanism whereby developing countries are rewarded for reducing emissions through various actions that include reducing emissions from deforestation, reducing emissions from forest degradation, conservation of forest carbon stocks, sustainable management of forests, and enhancement of carbon stocks. The structure is such that countries can get ready to implement REDD+ by going through several steps in which their technical, institutional and political capacities are developed. But circumstances at the national level offer a different reality altogether.

According to the special issue, the process of REDD+ readiness is shaped by a host of complex political and economic factors largely influenced by the national environment, history and circumstances specific to each country.

“The game changes at country level, and the process has to account for complex political and economic realities involving multiple actors, institutions, political and sectoral ideologies that require an iterative, rather than a simple linear, global process,” says Dr Peter Minang, one of the special issue editors.

The special issue covers six papers, and a substantive editorial, four of which focus on the process of REDD+ readiness in different countries –Cameroon (two papers), Indonesia, and Peru- and the interplay of various national political economy factors that affect the process. Another paper on Kenya presents a case study emphasizing the role of the private sector and the learning loops between subnational and national level processes.

Key messages from these country case studies include: i) That readiness progress has, to a large extent, been shaped by historical forest governance dynamics (showing path dependency), implying that great effort is needed to achieve concrete emission reductions through REDD+; ii) Attention should also be given to the subnational processes as they determine the level of success at national and international levels; iii) Readiness processes need to pay more attention to drivers, and potential levers, of deforestation in a substantive way, given that this is largely determined by political economy dimensions.

A further paper (Minang et al) is an overarching global comparative analysis study that develops a new readiness assessment framework that was used to analyze how the REDD+ process plays out in these countries and monitor how it has evolved. The framework has potential for wider application.

Ultimately, there is no denying that REDD+ initiates structures and offers lessons that are useful to the next focus of efforts exploring efficient, practical ways to reduce emissions.

Scientists with the ASB Partnership for the Tropical Forests Margins at the World Agroforestry Centre have published a special  issue in Climate Policy vol.14, no. 6, that focuses on the Political Economy of Readiness for REDD+, guest edited by Dr Peter Minang and Dr Meine van Noordwijk.  All articles in this special issue are available for free as “open access” publications.