Reducing emissions from deforestation, forest degradation, and enhancing forest carbon stocks in developing countries (REDD+) seems like an obvious way to tackle climate change. But REDD+ is controversial and fraught with technical challenges. Journalists who cover REDD+ need to understand these sides of the story, as well as the latest on what parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change have agreed about how REDD+ should work.
Questions to ask
• How reliable are the statistics on forest cover, deforestation rate, etc.?
• What is in the text of the REDD+ project contracts?
• How will the REDD+ project be funded, and for how long?
• How will it be monitored, reported and verified?
• What do local communities know and think about the project?
• How much carbon does the project prevent from entering the atmosphere? What does this equate to in terms normal people understand?
• Who manages the money? Who gets the money? Will it reach local forest dependent communities? Or will it go to logging companies?
• Who owns the forest? Is it the state or do local people have ownership or customary rights to use the forest?
• What safeguards are in place to ensure that a REDD+ project in one place won’t lead to more deforestation elsewhere?
• What has your country done to prepare for future REDD+ projects (known as REDD Readiness)? Does it have a REDD+ plan?
• Who are the stakeholders? Are you familiar with all of the competing viewpoints of REDD+ (government, NGO, community, private sector, etc.)? Does your reporting reflect majority views or the views of the powerful?
• Which stakeholders get to decide how REDD+ is implemented?
Sources of information
UN-REDD is the United Nations Collaborative Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries. http://www.un-redd.org/
The REDD Desk (http://www.theredddesk.org/) is an online collaborative platform for sharing information about all aspects of REDD. It has a country database with information about several African countries (http://www.theredddesk. org/countries).
REDD Monitor takes a critical view of REDD and its potential problems. It is a good source of news and story ideas (http://www.redd-monitor.org/).
The Global Canopy Programme (http://www.globalcanopy.org/) is an international NGO that works largely on REDD+. Its Little REDD+ Book summarizes more than 30 proposals that have been made by different countries, nongovernmental groups and others (http://www.globalcanopy.org/sites/default/files/lrb_en_0.pdf).
UN Framework Convention on Climate Change: This site gathers information about the status of REDD+ in the UN climate change negotiations, and what individual countries have proposed (https://unfccc.int/methods/redd/ items/7377.php).
The International Center for Forestry Research (CIFOR) is a leading source of research on REDD+. It has produced a global map of REDD+ projects (http://www.forestsclimatechange.org/redd-map/).
The Ecosystems Climate Alliance (http://www.ecosystemsclimate.org/) is a network on nongovernmental organisations that campaign for stronger environmental and social safeguards in REDD+ design and implementation.
Reporting REDD: A guide for journalists produced by the Climate Change Media Partnership (http://www.unep.org/ forests/Portals/142/docs/Reporting_REDD-Media_Pack.pdf)
The World Bank Forest Carbon Partnership Facility helps countries prepare for REDD+, explores ways to provide payments and tests ways REDD+ can improve livelihoods and biodiversity conservation (http://www. forestcarbonpartnership.org/fcp/).
The REDD+ Partnership (http://reddpluspartnership.org/) is a platform for countries to coordinate and scale-up their REDD+ activities. In time it will be replaced by or included in the official REDD+ mechanism that parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change are still to agree.