What is REDD+
REDD+ is an initiative working to prove that forests are more valuable when left standing. Known as Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation, REDD+ is a market-based solution that provides an effective method to offset our ever-expanding carbon footprint. By monetizing the carbon in the trees, an incentive emerges within the local communities: protect the forest. A trickle-up effect occurs, creating a reverberating impact. In alignment with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a focus on climate change is propelled by this investment, resulting in sustainable development and a profitable return.
Why We Need REDD+
It is in our collective interest to conserve the forest carbon stocks in developing countries. REDD+ provides a unique opportunity to mitigate global climate change, alleviate poverty and sustain biodiverse ecosystem services. Economic development on a local level is garnered by the influx of desperately needed capital. When left with no other option, these communities might resort to terrifically destructive practices such as slash-and-burn agriculture and poaching. Through REDD+ investment, the mindset shifts, the tropical forests are worth more alive than dead.
Instead of a one-off forest project where a consistent stream of money is required to keep the project afloat, this system perpetuates the momentum into every facet of the ecosystem. With partnerships, both national and state-level, a system of trust is created. The high standards of transparency within the existing structure of REDD+ serve to improve the governance and promote long-term growth. The new accountability and forest management also creates a new network of jobs. The combination of personal responsibility and economic incentive has driven progress and proven results. Climate change must be addressed holistically. These tropical forests support a robust environment that is home to at least half of all plant and animal species. A resilient web of stakeholders is necessary in order to protect these vital resources.
Who is Buying REDD+
Whether voluntary or through compliance obligation, there is an array of organizations and individuals, both public and private, that are potential buyers.
As carbon markets continue to develop, the demand for offsets is also evolving. Currently the market is voluntary, however diplomatic initiatives—such as the Paris Climate Agreement—are creating momentum for REDD+ while reaffirming the importance of sustainable management and protection of standing forests as a market-based mechanism for companies and countries to offset on-going GhG emissions. In addition, consumer-driven demand has incentivized companies to increase efficiencies and purchase offsets. REDD+ offsets are particularly attractive to companies because, along with the absorption of GhG emissions, they provide financial support to forest communities and measurable impact. Through this mechanism, we have demonstrated the profitability of investments in REDD+ investments. Motivation can range from pure profit, to formidable Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs or philanthropic commitments. When AlphaSource invested in Wildlife Works, the first United Nations REDD+ approved developer, they were asked to create an institutional-quality impact fund that is directly focused on addressing climate change. At the moment, this market is undervalued.