Beyond Carbon: Enabling Justice and Equity in REDD+ Across Levels of Governance
Guest editors: Heike Schroeder, Thomas Sikor, Constance McDermott
Ecology and Society 18(2), 2013

This special feature of Ecology and Society includes a synthesis by Benno Pokorny, Imme Scholz and Wil de Jong, entitled: “REDD+ for the poor or the poor for REDD+? About the limitations of environmental policies in the Amazon and the potential of achieving environmental goals through pro-poor policies” as well as two research articles: Monica Di Gregorio et al write on “Equity and REDD+ in the Media: a comparative analysis of policy discourses” and Annalisa Savaresi on “REDD+ and human rights: addressing synergies between international regimes”.

Pokorny et al note that many environmental and development projects follow “market-oriented approached that widely ignore local management practices, local ways of organizing work, and other local capacities and limitations”. They demonstrate that the manifold pilot activities emerging under the new REDD+ framework tend to repeat shortcomings of the classic development approach, which widely disregarded smallholders’ capacities to contribute to local development, thereby further accelerating the replacement of local socio-productive schemes with unsustainable land uses. They suggest that an alternative vision of development is needed, which more consciously takes into account the immense social and environmental potential of the Amazon region.

Following a comparative media analysis of REDD+ public discourse in four countries, Di Gregorio et al show that policy makers focus more on international than national equity concerns, and that they neglect both the need for increased participation in decision making and recognition of local and indigenous rights. To move from addressing the symptoms to addressing the causes of inequality in REDD+, policy actors need to address issues related to contextual equity, that is, the social and political root causes of inequality. Finally, Savaresi points to concerns relating to the potential loss of traditional territories and restriction of rights of indigenous and local communities to access to, use of, and/or ownership of land and natural resources; lack of equitable benefit-sharing of REDD+ activities; exclusion of indigenous and local communities from designing and implementation of REDD+ policies and measures; and loss of traditional ecological knowledge; and argues that concerns over the social impact of REDD+ activities may be addressed by resorting to clearer and stronger links with human rights instruments. Read the articles …