Financing readiness: insights from the Amazon Fund and Congo Basin Forest Funds' efforts to reduce emissions from deforestation and degradation

Financing readiness: insights from the Amazon Fund and Congo Basin Forest Funds' efforts to reduce emissions from deforestation and degradation

Finance to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, forest conservation, sustainable management of forests and the enhancement of forest carbon stocks (REDD+) has been innovatively structured to support ‘readiness activities’ prior to performance-based support. The case for readiness finance is strong, given the challenges of addressing technical, policy, and institutional requirements of realising REDD+. Understanding of what constitutes readiness, however, has evolved from an early focus on technical considerations, to a more encompassing consideration of underlying policy and regulatory frameworks, and the need to strengthen the transparency, inclusiveness, accountability and coordination of governance systems that affect forests.

This paper considers the activities financed by the Brazilian Amazon Fund and the Congo Basin Forest Fund (CBFF) since their inception. These funds operate in very different contexts, whose needs for ‘readiness finance’ are therefore also substantially different. Each fund through its projects supports multiple activities. Both have made some efforts to fund programmes that address issues of policy and governance, and independent monitoring and verification of emission reductions, although the level of support has been relatively modest. The authors observe an ongoing need for greater coordination and coherence with other initiatives to finance REDD+ within the same region; in Brazil some institutional frameworks to prompt such coordination have now been established; such frameworks are much weaker in the countries of the Congo Basin.

REDD+ finance directed towards readiness has sought to achieve a lot on a small budget, and grapples with complex problems that many stakeholders have been seeking to address for decades, and, in many cases, with limited success. The authors review of the activities financed by the Amazon Fund and CBFF highlights that many aspects of readiness, particularly efforts to improve governance and strengthen associated institutions, will need ongoing support as part of performance based REDD+. The Amazon Fund programming seems to reflect this need, by funding activities that are an extension of readiness in the context of delivering performance based REDD+. This challenges static conceptualisations of readiness, however, in which there is a clear end point at which point a country is ’ready’. The notion of ‘thresholds’ may be helpful in providing an indicator that some progress has been made; however, it raises questions about how to assess whether and how those thresholds have been met.

The analysis suggests that issues of national context will largely shape such judgements, but there will also be a need for some objective metrics to inform such judgements. In turn, recognition of the need for ongoing and sustained investment, particularly in continuing to strengthen institutions and governance, may make the issue of where readiness stops and REDD+ begins less material for programming funds.

[Taken from the authors]

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