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Oaxaca Workshop Bulletin
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Volume 180 Number 1 - Monday, 6 September 2010

The Oaxaca Workshop on Forest Governance, Decentralization and REDD+ in Latin America and the Caribbean took place in Oaxaca, Mexico, from Tuesday, 31 August to Friday, 3 September 2010. It brought together 230 participants from 34 countries, representing governments, non-governmental, intergovernmental and research organizations, multilateral funding agencies, indigenous peoples, and other members of civil society.

This country-led initiative in support of the UN Forum on Forests (UNFF) was organized by the Governments of Switzerland and Mexico and several organizations. It aimed to identify trends, and facilitate sharing of experiences and lessons learned from sustainable forest management (SFM), forest governance and decentralization, and reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, as well as the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries (REDD+).

Participants took part in plenary and roundtable sessions throughout the Workshop to discuss four themes: people, forest governance and forests; landscape change, forest management and REDD+; forest finance and finance for REDD+; and rights, livelihoods and forests. Participants also took part in field trips to nearby community-owned forest-related enterprises, and engaged in “open spaces” to discuss in more detail: payment mechanisms; forest planning; REDD+ legal frameworks; and indigenous peoples.

Participants produced a report summarizing the Workshop’s deliberations, which includes recommendations to countries and the ninth session of UNFF, to be held in early 2011. The document is also expected to inform discussions during the sixteenth Conference of the Parties (COP 16) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), to be held in late 2010 in Cancún, Mexico.


Since 2004, a series of four international workshops has been organized biannually as country-led initiatives in support of the UNFF to connect countries undergoing decentralization and governance reform. The workshops bring together participants from government, civil society, research institutions, community organizations and the business sector to discuss key aspects of forest decentralization and governance theory and practice. Participants also consider cross-cutting issues of livelihoods, equity and sustainable development through a mix of presentations, panel discussions, working group sessions and field trips. The workshops aim to facilitate the sharing of insights and experiences from various countries, and to draw lessons and recommendations for action by the UNFF and other institutional actors.

WORKSHOP ON DECENTRALIZATION, FEDERAL SYSTEMS OF FORESTRY AND NATIONAL FOREST PROGRAMMES: This workshop, co-organized by the Governments of Switzerland and Indonesia, was held in Interlaken, Switzerland, in April 2004. The workshop provided an overview of ongoing and planned decentralization processes in forest management worldwide. Discussions focused on conceptual and operational aspects of decentralization, including: roles, responsibilities and coordination at different levels and across sectors; policy and regulatory frameworks; equitable benefit sharing; stakeholder participation; financial incentives and private sector partnerships; capacity building; maintaining ecosystem functions; and appropriate application of knowledge and technology.

WORKSHOP ON FOREST GOVERNANCE AND DECENTRALIZATION IN ASIA AND THE PACIFIC: This workshop, hosted by the Government of Indonesia, was held in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, in September 2006. The workshop continued discussion of issues identified at Interlaken in a regional context, and with a greater emphasis on the requisites for economically and technically viable decentralization. Corruption and illegality, tenure, rights and equity, and forest fires, land use and rehabilitation were principal themes emerging from this regional workshop.

WORKSHOP ON FOREST GOVERNANCE AND DECENTRALIZATION IN AFRICA: This workshop, hosted by the Governments of South Africa and Switzerland, was held in Durban, South Africa, in April 2008. The workshop sought to develop a common understanding of concepts and practices of decentralization in the African forest governance context. Participants identified opportunities for coordinating policy responses, capacity building and implementing best practices to decentralization and SFM. Three major themes were discussed: decentralized forest management and livelihoods; decentralization, conservation and SFM; and international trade, finance and investment in forest governance reform.

OSLO CLIMATE AND FOREST CONFERENCE: This meeting of REDD+ donor and recipient countries took place on 27 May 2010 in Oslo, Norway. The meeting resulted in the establishment of the Interim REDD+ Partnership, which seeks to support and contribute to the UNFCCC process and promote transparency in financing of REDD+ initiatives. Participants highlighted pledges of approximately US$4 billion in financing for REDD+ activities in the period 2010-2012.



The opening session, held on Tuesday, 31 August 2010, was moderated by Juan Manuel Torres Rojo, Director General, National Forestry Commission of Mexico (CONAFOR).

Christian Küchli, Federal Office for the Environment, Switzerland, described the role of improved forest governance in sustainable forest management (SFM) and reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, and the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of carbon stocks in developing countries (REDD+.) He cautioned against using centralistic approaches to implement REDD+ and urged the strengthening of safeguards. He called for the Workshop to help link REDD+ rules at the global level to decision-making process at the local, sub-national and national scales, underscoring that REDD+ creates new incentives and a political space for forest governance reform.

Jan McAlpine, Director, UN Forum on Forests (UNFF), presented a John Liu film that emphasized the potential of restoration and rehabilitation of large, damaged ecosystems to provide food, prevent floods and droughts, and reduce emissions. She emphasized the need to build cross-sectoral partnerships, and highlighted that both the ninth session of the UNFF (UNFF 9), to be held in January 2011, and the 2011 International Year of Forests, will be opportunities for raising awareness about forests and people.

Heinrich Schellenberg, Chargé d’affaires of Switzerland in Mexico, welcomed participants on behalf of the Government of Switzerland, and emphasized that Switzerland considers forest governance and international cooperation of high importance in supporting sustainable management of forests and the successful implementation of REDD+.

Juan Elvira Quesada, Secretary for Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT), Mexico, welcomed representatives of governments and civil society. He described the biological diversity of Oaxaca, as well as state and national efforts on clean energy, payments for environmental services (PES) and forestry. He underscored the Mexican government’s efforts to engage indigenous communities and women in forest governance.


This theme was addressed in plenary and two roundtable sessions on Tuesday.

PLENARY PRESENTATIONS: This session was moderated by Pradeepa Goberdhan, Guyana Forestry Commission.

Anne Larson, Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), presented on the risks and opportunities for forest governance and REDD+. She noted that REDD+ presents an opportunity to improve forest governance, but that weak governance can also undermine it. She underscored risks that REDD+ can pose for forest governance, including centralizing decision making, controls, and regulation design, which could limit local community participation and create mechanisms that are not adapted to local conditions. She cautioned against approaches that constrain local livelihoods, noting that changing agricultural practices of local communities can cause conflict and challenge the mechanism’s legitimacy. She highlighted governance reforms that could benefit REDD+ outcomes, including having: a comprehensive and intersectoral outlook on forests; a mechanism that is transparent, participatory and with clear accountability; and clear land and carbon tenure and rights.

Elena Petkova, CIFOR, presented on challenges to improving forest governance. On the policy and regulatory framework, she highlighted barriers posed by overregulation, unrealistic regulations, unclear tenure, perverse subsidies and poor safeguards. On the rule of law, Petkova underscored the challenges of combating illegal logging, but noted positive efforts in Brazil and Central America. In terms of government effectiveness, she noted challenges in monitoring and evaluation, poor law enforcement, limited capacity to implement institutional responsibilities, and inadequate policy harmonization. Petkova said successful reform must be politically desirable, feasible and credible.

Fabiano Toni, University of Brasília, presented on decentralization and REDD+ in Brazil. He defined decentralization as a transfer of powers and resources from the central government to democratically elected sub-national governments. He said REDD+ requires strong coordination between the central and sub-national governments. Toni presented results of a study on selected Latin American countries showing that forest management competences are still consolidated under the central government, and that local government involvement in land and forest protection is limited owing to the lack of devolved power and incentives.

Andrew Wardell, CIFOR, spoke on emerging linkages between climate change mitigation and adaptation, particularly in forests, and noted a historical focus on mitigation. He underscored the ecosystem adaptation benefits provided by protecting mangroves and peatlands. At the national level, Wardell noted that progress on nationally appropriate mitigation actions has been limited and that few national adaptation plans of action include reference to ecosystems, with even fewer incorporating mitigation objectives. He underscored that projects reducing the vulnerability of forests and forest people are likely to be more sustainable, and noted that more funding for adaptation could be available if it is linked to mitigation.  

In the ensuing discussion, a participant called for the Workshop to consider clarification of carbon rights of indigenous peoples. Another called for discussing the definition of governance, and suggested the need to work at all institutional levels. Another participant questioned why and how we think that new reforms associated with REDD+ will effectively address deforestation. Petkova responded that REDD+ represents an opportunity to improve institutions, but noted that if effective governance reforms do not accompany incentives, REDD+ will be a failure. She noted that as the REDD+ debate expands, policy makers need to be selective about the issues that will be addressed. A participant suggested the importance of fully respecting communal tenure in legal systems within a REDD+ framework.

Examples of synergies between mitigation and adaptation in local forest management projects were further discussed. Some participants highlighted their countries’ national forest legal framework and experiences. A non-governmental organization (NGO) representative suggested considering indigenous community authorities under a decentralization scheme, while others questioned how gender issues would be addressed in REDD+, considering that women usually have less access to land and decision making.

ROUNDTABLE SESSION: Governance and REDD+ implementation: Alberto Sandoval, UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), moderated this session. Yemi Kateterere, UN-REDD, highlighted the need to understand individual country contexts. Kateterere identified the role of multilateral initiatives in influencing how governments engage and bring about reform while respecting sovereignty and local livelihoods. Estelle Fach, UN-REDD, described UN-REDD’s tool for assessing democratic governance in REDD+, noting that the tool would be used to work and build support with governments and local communities.

Tuukka Castren, World Bank, reviewed the history of the “traditional” forest law enforcement and governance agenda in Europe, Africa and Asia, noting achievements and progress made on improving governance and combating illegal logging. Marco Chiú, Ecuador, outlined the Ecuadorian national strategic plan for implementing REDD+, including incentive policies for SFM, reforestation and afforestation activities, and land regulation. Mariana Pavan, Institute for Conservation and Sustainable Development of Amazonas, stressed the importance of involving local governments in designing policies as they will be the ones implementing them. She highlighted the importance of civil society participation, noting that civil society in Brazil has been able to influence the national position in climate negotiations. 

Participants broke into nine breakout groups to discuss the following topics:

  • how countries can establish synergies between policy related to REDD+ and REDD+ implementation for people and forests;
  • the actors involved in REDD+ governance in Latin American countries, those involved in developing plans and strategies for implementation at the national level, and the early lessons learned; and
  • ensuring transparency and accountability and priorities for monitoring governance.

On establishing synergies, groups noted the need for both horizontal coordination across agencies and vertical coordination between national and sub-national governments, civil society and communities. Groups said that for communities to become central actors, greater communication and capacity building is required. One group called for REDD+ reforms to fit within larger forest management issues and to build on existing efforts, and noted the challenge of balancing short-term expectations for REDD+ with the necessary long-term reforms. The group called for early investments in the countries with strong governance frameworks, referred to as the “low hanging fruit.”

On actors involved in REDD+ governance, all groups stressed the central role of governments, and highlighted that civil society is a key actor to ensure transparency and accountability. Groups called for national governments to broaden the dialogue and engage indigenous peoples.

On participation in development of REDD+ strategies, groups noted that governments are taking the lead in developing strategies, and that the contributions of civil society and communities vary among nations. On early lessons, groups highlighted the need for communication, cooperation, and the building and recovering of capacities. One group suggested the development of a platform of participation, and stressed using institutions with appropriate mandates and budgets.

On ensuring transparency and accountability, groups highlighted the importance of sharing information during design and implementation phases of REDD+, and the development of a database on activities.

On the most relevant issues for monitoring governance, groups called for multi-stakeholder long-term monitoring plans with clear indicators. One group highlighted the need for baselines, and all groups underscored the need for local participation.

Opportunities for establishing synergies between mitigation and adaptation initiatives: Maria Netto, Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), moderated the session.

Boen Muchtar Purnama, Indonesian Ministry of Forestry, presented on Indonesia’s REDD+ experiences, underscoring national initiatives such as developing a national climate change action plan, setting up a regulatory framework and establishing methodologies for measuring, reporting and verification (MRV). He said that finding the optimal economic, social and environmental benefit is challenging, but that it also presents an opportunity to improve livelihoods, if the distribution of benefits amongst stakeholders is adequately considered.

Iván Zúñiga Pérez-Tejada, Mexican Civil Council for Sustainable Silviculture (CCMSS), presented some Mexican cases linking climate change adaptation and mitigation. He underscored that efforts to meet national reforestation and mitigation targets provided in the national climate change plan and the national scheme for PES should be targeted to the most vulnerable ecosystems and populations. Thea Konstantindis, Autonomous Group for Environmental Research, said that local vulnerabilities to climate change should be prioritized in the REDD+ debate and local resilience enhanced.

Participants divided into breakout groups to address the following:

  • the opportunities and modalities for linking mitigation and adaptation in international and national policies;
  • governance mechanisms that are the most effective in fostering synergies between mitigation and adaptation;
  • facilitating and increasing the synergies between mitigation and adaptation in sub-national and local initiatives; and
  • best practices and decision-support tools for establishing synergies between mitigation and adaptation initiatives.

On opportunities for linking mitigation and adaptation, all the groups underscored the role of REDD + to promote and finance adaptation. Many participants highlighted that mitigation activities attract more funding, noting the need for increased financing for adaptation at the international and national level. One group suggested incorporating a vulnerability map as a possible basis for reallocating financing. Another group described mechanisms that could enable adequate allocation of resources among multiple stakeholders. Many groups said forest management and conservation present opportunities for both mitigation and adaptation, with another group noting that forest plantations could generate resources to maintain forests and enhance adaptation, and even others noting the need to engage non-forest sectors. One group said that adaptive measures should vary according to different contexts, vulnerabilities and scales.

On adaptation governance mechanisms, some groups were cautious about centralization processes that could undermine funding to local projects. Most groups emphasized that national and international adaptation policies should consider local needs and include local knowledge in a bottom-up process. Some groups said that local and indigenous communities should have access to information on REDD+ and financial resources to ensure local empowerment and build capacity. Many groups emphasized the need for transparency in governance mechanisms.


This theme was addressed in plenary and roundtable sessions on Thursday.

PLENARY SESSION: Sergio Madrid, CCMSS, moderated this session.

Bastiaan Louman, Centre for Tropical Agricultural Research and Teaching (CATIE), spoke on drivers of deforestation and SFM, as well as on the interaction between economic incentives and enabling conditions for successful REDD+ implementation. He noted the role of distance to market and land value in driving deforestation and forest degradation, calling for local analyses of drivers. He stressed that efforts should focus on forest margins, and noted the potential of SFM to reduce carbon emissions by 30% compared to that of conventional forestry practices. Louman underscored the need to consider poor governance as a deforestation driver and called for addressing enabling policies that influence land rents before implementing economic incentives. 

Pablo Pacheco, CIFOR, described the trends of landscape transformation in three Latin American countries. He stressed the linkages between land uses and actors, which are influenced both by exogenous factors, such as national policies and markets, and endogenous factors, including local socio-economic interactions. Among trends in landscape change, he mentioned expansion of: agribusiness, which benefits only a small group of producers; traditional cattle ranching on low cost land and the use of cheap labor; and traditional agro-extractive economies associated with the recognition of indigenous rights to land and fewer benefits reaching a larger group of people. He concluded that REDD+ should consider the diverse actors involved in land use and avoid homogenous solutions that could fail to address efficiency and equity.

Robert Nasi, CIFOR, presented on SFM, biodiversity and carbon to assess whether there is a case for REDD+. He emphasized that while REDD+ is presently dominating the international forest agenda, the fundamental forest management challenges that have persisted for decades still hold, including: insecure tenure and resource rights; excessive costs of and lack of clear financial incentives for SFM versus business as usual logging; and inefficiency and waste in forest management and wood processing. Nasi suggested using the REDD+ agenda to foster the objectives of improved forest management, recommending, inter alia: use of reduced impact logging and post-logging silvicultural treatments; developing incentives to enhance forest carbon stocks; increasing sector efficiency; and fostering third party certification.

In the ensuing discussion, participants raised questions on, inter alia: what REDD+ governance means for indigenous peoples; effective policies at the forest margin; and how interest groups using the REDD+ agenda may lead to a lack of focused polices and fund availability. On whether the REDD+ agenda represents business as usual, Nasi suggested a potential problem with using REDD+ to compensate forest managers for merely obeying the law, rather than using it to foster improved sustainability. Louman highlighted the need to understand and integrate indigenous peoples’ priorities within global REDD+ policies. Louman stressed that “funds are available today and need to be spent tomorrow,” presenting both an opportunity and a problem for addressing the necessary long-term reforms.

ROUNDTABLE SESSION: Landscape change, forest management and REDD+: Enrique Provencio, Interdisciplinary Center for Biodiversity and Environment, moderated the session.

In opening remarks, Verania Chao, UN Development Programme, said payments under REDD+ cannot be translated into effective incentives without strong governance. She noted the need to consider the wide variety of drivers of deforestation located outside the forest and highlighted that successful experiences have demonstrated the ability of some communities to self-coordinate.

David Bray, Florida International University, stressed the need to think about ecosystem changes and management at the landscape scale. He suggested considering existing tools for reducing deforestation, acknowledging that success with past approaches have been mixed. He stressed the need to consider governance as a multi-stakeholder participatory process.

In roundtable groups, participants were asked to discuss the following:

  • policy options for balancing development challenges, forest conservation and poverty alleviation in the context of REDD+;
  • governance challenges at various scales associated with addressing drivers of deforestation; and
  • policies needed for SFM to fulfill its promise and combine development with long-term emission reductions.

Many groups highlighted the need for clarity on what a REDD+ project is and for more effective communication at the local level. They also stressed the importance of social capital and noted that it cannot be easily imposed on communities with a top-down approach.

On policy options, groups called for adaptable policies that are harmonized and integrated within wider development and conservation policies, highlighting the need to avoid contradictions in institutions and laws. They noted that poverty alleviation is not the main goal of REDD+, but that it is a primary duty of the state.

On governance challenges for addressing deforestation, many groups underscored that social capital is often weak at the community level due to lack of resources and cooperation. Others highlighted the need to address governance at all levels and questioned how community-level challenges can impact national decisions. A group highlighted overregulation and the creation of local obligations without complementary benefits.

On policies for promoting SFM and combining development and emissions reduction goals, one group noted the need to take into account national contexts in developing appropriate policies, highlighting national variations in land ownership. The group stressed the need to consider a joint set of policy options to guarantee community well-being. Another group emphasized that it will be costly to develop standardized policies, underscoring that REDD+ is only one more tool to promote SFM. Another group called for an evaluation of decision-making power in the REDD+ process so that local communities have a greater weight than NGOs or donors. It was noted that governments will have to retain an element of command-and-control policies to preserve forests, but decisions should be made through an accountable and transparent process. Groups also said that the landscape beyond the forest needs to be considered as an important element of mitigation and adaptation strategies.

A participant noted that he was tying his conservation agenda to REDD+ because REDD+ financing can compete with powerful interest groups that influence government policies. Another participant cautioned against developing a dependency on REDD+.


This theme was addressed in plenary and roundtable sessions on Thursday.

PLENARY PRESENTATIONS: This session was moderated by Gisela Ulloa, SUNIA.

Herman Savenije, Tropenbos International, presenting on financing mechanisms for sustainable small-scale forestry, highlighted that: formal financing instruments are diverse but are not always suitable for or accessible to forest peoples; there is a lack of information on informal financing schemes used in the forest sector; and the potential of new instruments, such as PES, remains untapped. He emphasized that the problem is access to, not availability of, finance. Among the key challenges, he highlighted: bringing the forest and financing sectors together by promoting inter-sectoral policies and cooperation; integrating REDD+ financing within broader national financing strategies through a strategic and comprehensive approach; and promoting innovation, learning and engagement across borders.

Louis Verchot, CIFOR, presented on options for REDD+ voluntary certification. He outlined a study comparing 10 common standards currently used for greenhouse gas (GHG) accounting, REDD+ programme design, and SFM. He assessed the comprehensiveness of each standard using six evaluation criteria: poverty alleviation, biodiversity, SFM, certification procedures, monitoring and reporting procedures, and GHG accounting framework. He concluded that none of the standards cover all six areas comprehensively, suggesting that REDD+ projects may need to consider certification by two or more standards.

José Carlos Fernández Ugalde, CONAFOR, described the Interim REDD+ Partnership. He said that the Partnership aims to coordinate finance, ensure consistency of methodologies, and promote learning and integration of strategies. He noted that the US$4 billion pledged by donor countries to REDD+ would be primarily focused on strategy preparation and implementation, rather than distributing payments. Underscoring that the Partnership should support negotiations of the UNFCCC, he said that before UNFCCC COP 16 the Partnership anticipates: facilitating a public database to document actions and financing; identifying policy and knowledge gaps; and comparing experiences. He stressed that the process should strengthen the capacity of existing mechanisms rather than create new funding windows.

In the ensuing discussion, participants called for: opening participation in the Interim REDD+ Partnership to indigenous peoples; considering traditional and historical indigenous peoples’ way of life; promoting technology transfer and capacity building for indigenous communities to avoid corruption of their forest values. One participant asked about the complementary role between voluntary carbon funds and markets. Verchot said that the private sector requires certainty about the future of market mechanisms, which can only be ensured through an international agreement. Responding to questions, Savenije noted variations in national investment climates. Verchot explained the difference between certification schemes that create market access and those that provide quality control.

ROUNDTABLE SESSION: Forest finance and finance for REDD+: Under what conditions can they work for forests and people?: This session was moderated by Keith Anderson, Federal Office for the Environment, Switzerland.

Three presentations were made on current REDD+ financing programmes. Stephanie Tam, World Bank, explained that the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility, with 37 participating countries, consists of two funds: the Readiness Fund, which provides assistance to build countries’ capacities and structures for REDD+ implementation; and the Carbon Fund, which finances emission reduction activities once the readiness phase is finished.

Yemi Katerere, UN-REDD, explained that UN-REDD, with nine pilot countries and 18 partner countries, is working under countries’ leadership and providing technical support. He highlighted the participation of civil society and indigenous peoples in the Programme’s Policy Board.

Laura Gaensly, IDB, said the objective of the Forest Investment Programme, which has eight pilot countries, is to support developing countries in ongoing forest initiatives and strengthen efforts already identified at the national level.

Participants were asked to discuss the following:

  • national rules for participation in REDD+ that ensure transparent and accountable financial mechanisms;
  • benefit distribution and the possibility of criteria for distribution;
  • processes enabling governments to streamline REDD+ demonstration projects and ensuring that relevant actors contribute to their design;
  • lessons learned from existing intergovernmental fiscal transfer mechanisms that can be applied to guiding efficient REDD+ benefit-sharing mechanisms; and
  • additional fiscal policy reforms needed to ensure REDD+ financing is effective and not subject to perverse incentives.

On rules for different actors’ participation in REDD+, most groups emphasized the importance of transparency mechanisms, such as creating a consultative technical council and making periodic reports available for examination by different relevant actors, including communities. Some groups stressed the need for broad and balanced participation, including all legitimate authorities, while others suggested some eligibility criteria for participation, such as biodiversity hot spots, vulnerability to climate change, poverty and forests under high pressure.

On transfer mechanisms to guide the design and implementation of efficient REDD+ benefit-sharing, most groups said that all sectors should be involved. A group mentioned some possible distribution mechanisms, such as trust funds, producer associations, and committees. Others emphasized the need for mechanisms that ensure both benefits and costs of implementation are distributed among all stakeholders.

On policy reforms, many groups highlighted the need to enhance actors’ capacities and inter-sectoral involvement. Most groups underscored that REDD+ needs to be integrated within national plans and strategies. Some groups called for national laws that respect traditional uses and customs. A group stressed that decentralization should also apply to financial institutions and mechanisms.


This theme was addressed in plenary and two roundtable sessions on Friday.

PLENARY PRESENTATIONS: Leticia Merino, National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), moderated the session. Esteve Corbera, University of East Anglia, outlined land tenure regimes and their relationship with carbon rights and REDD+ in Mexico, Brazil and Costa Rica. He underscored that the central goal of REDD+ is to distribute economic incentives for emission reductions against a baseline and highlighted that forest tenure regimes contribute to defining who is: responsible for management; entitled to trade carbon rights; and liable for future carbon losses. On Mexico and Brazil, Corbera noted the lack of a legal framework for defining rights to carbon, and said that this is common to many countries. He noted that the 2006 Brazilian forest law legislates that the state would retain the carbon rights over forest concessions. Corbera noted a legal framework for carbon rights in Costa Rica, explaining that participants in the national PES system implicitly transfer rights to the state. Underscoring the importance of tenure clarity for REDD+, he cautioned that access to new property rights may exacerbate rather than reduce conflict.

Chris van Dam, Intercooperation, said that demarcation of indigenous territories in Latin America, totaling 41% of Amazonia, has been the most significant change in the last 30 years. He said that community forest management (CFM) should be shifted to territorial forest management, which would enable economies of scale and strengthen indigenous political institutions to affront threats to their territories, such as encroachment. He highlighted that if REDD+ is based on strong land rights and prior informed consent, it can be an opportunity to: provide added value to traditional activities; create a complementary source of revenues; and provide additional resources to affront threats to their territory. He further stated that many indigenous communities are skeptical of REDD+, because forests are only seen as carbon sinks without acknowledging other uses and values. He concluded that a key remaining issue is defining carbon property rights.

Peter Cronkleton, CIFOR, presented on CFM and REDD+. He stated that CFM can reduce deforestation and forest degradation, if proper conditions to foster CFM, such as secure property rights and strong multi-scale governance institutions, are present. He drew comparisons among CFM governance structures in Mexico, Brazil and Bolivia, highlighting that CFM in Mexico is based on manageable sized territories with strong governance. He contrasted this with Brazilian and Bolivian CFM, where areas being demarcated for communities are large, encompassing many communities and in some cases multiple ethnicities, making it more difficult to link governance of the larger area with governance of individual communities and their resources.

Janis Alcorn, IDB, spoke about best practices for getting REDD+ rights for indigenous peoples. She noted the need to respect indigenous peoples’ access rights and food production mechanisms, such as slash and burn. She called for further participation of indigenous peoples in REDD+ mechanism design, and for technical assistance to indigenous peoples to prepare REDD+ projects.

In the ensuing discussion, participants noted the contradictory messages from the panel on whether forest management should occur at the level of territory or community. Van Dam commented that managing small units within a large territory would be ineffective without an overview of the whole territory. One participant noted that Mexico already has a clear system in place to pay communities for environmental services, and Corbera suggested clarifying the legal framework to link this system to the international carbon market. Cronkleton said that good cases of traditional CFM in South America are plentiful but not recognized by the state, and noted that formal CFM projects often fail because of the introduction of complicated, industrial management programs to communities. One participant expressed concern that Mexico’s private land market might lead to land being bought from communities for carbon payments. Another participant provided a word of caution on basing REDD+ on carbon rights, which he said could result in community dependency on carbon as a commodity and thus lead to unsustainable livelihoods.

ROUNDTABLE SESSION: REDD+, Rights and Communities: Guillermo Navarro, CATIE, moderated the session. He called on participants to discuss:

  • the bundles of rights for capturing benefits from forest goods and services;
  • governance processes to protect rights, elements of carbon rights as a tradable property and institutional arrangements for trading carbon;
  • untapped opportunities to integrate local communities and SFM in the context of REDD+;
  • policies that can be used to capture opportunities and reduce threats;
  • adaptation of REDD+ to local contexts and REDD+ design aspects that should be fixed by policies and measures; and,
  • the role of community forest management in REDD+ and the potential scale that can be addressed.

All groups highlighted the need for clear property rights to forests and carbon. One group noted the challenges posed by split tenure where the land is owned and managed by different parties, and highlighted the need for clarity on who will bear the risks and responsibilities at local, regional and national levels.

On ensuring rights, one group called for consideration of gender equity and common land. On institutional arrangements, many groups noted the need for cost-effective local monitoring and the involvement of local communities at all levels to lend legitimacy to the process.

On risks to local communities, one group described how negative outcomes could result from the process of clarifying rights, underscoring the dangers of rigid top-down efforts. The group called for formal conflict resolution systems, adding that information sharing could help to avoid conflict. The group stressed that communities need to assess opportunities and threats by themselves.

On adapting REDD+ to local contexts, a group noted the need to respect historic land rights and work through multi-scale governance processes. On policies and measures, groups underscored requirements for alignment of policies that take local rights into account, guarantee the participation of communities, and address potential leakage. The groups cautioned against using standardized approaches without considering local contexts.

On the role of SFM in REDD+ and scaling up, the group called for sharing of forest management experiences with a series of management standards. It suggested creating partnerships of communities at the regional and national level. The group noted the need for stakeholder accountability and strengthening of human and social capital. The group underscored challenges with conflicting time scales between long-term capacity building and short-term financing. It stressed the need to ensure that social scientists are part of technical training teams and to work with existing institutions.

Indigenous People and REDD+: This session was moderated by Francisco Chapela, Rainforest Alliance, who said that REDD+ implementation in Latin America implies talking about indigenous peoples because almost a quarter of percent of forest land in the region is owned by communities and indigenous peoples.

Groups addressed the following:

  • processes, institutional arrangements and best practices needed to ensure early involvement by indigenous peoples in REDD+ design at different scales;
  • policies needed to protect and expand existing territorial rights and ensure carbon rights for indigenous peoples;
  • untapped opportunities to integrate community and indigenous peoples’ traditional forest management practices in REDD+;
  • adapting REDD+ to local contexts while keeping certain design aspects fixed by policies and measures; and
  • elements to be incorporated in a REDD+ design to balance traditional livelihoods and lifestyles with engagement in carbon market-oriented projects.

On institutional arrangements, some groups proposed engaging public indigenous institutions already in place and creating a formal body for REDD+ that includes government representatives and indigenous community leaders. On necessary policies and opportunities to ensure rights, one group said that common minimum prerequisites to implement REDD+ should be identified, and called for legal certainty to ensure indigenous communities’ social and carbon rights, as well as their prior informed consent. Other groups suggested that the recognition of indigenous rights should be a pre-condition to participation in REDD+. The group also highlighted adequate territorial planning and coherence between conservation and economic policies.

On means to adapt REDD+ to the local context, a group highlighted indigenous communities’ participation and the harmonization of uses and traditional laws with national and donors regulations, as well as considering indigenous communities’ relations with other actors, such as colonists.

On elements to balance traditional livelihoods with carbon market-oriented projects, a group proposed creating a special REDD+ mechanism for indigenous communities to address indigenous uses and customs, and called for stable coordination mechanisms and markets that value indigenous practices.


Four organizations hosted concurrent “open spaces,” inviting participants to discuss various issues in more detail.

CARBON PAYMENTS TO COMMUNITIES: The Center for Research in Environmental Geography of UNAM hosted a space on the practicalities of carbon payment systems for communities. Participants were asked to simulate the roles of government, community, and NGOs/technicians, to come up with solutions for how and when communities will be paid for environmental services, and the amount they will be paid. They were asked to discuss three payment options: an output payment per ton of carbon every five years, based on carbon stock which is assessed through forest inventory, regardless of activity type; a flat rate per year, based on a regional default value of stock growth and on norms of activities that must be followed in the community; and a payment negotiated with a REDD+ agency, reflecting the opportunity cost of forest use.

After consulting within groups, representatives sat around a negotiating table and presented their views. There were highly divergent views between the community and government on price per ton of carbon, with the community noting the opportunity cost of the forest and government stressing high overhead costs of administration. The negotiators settled around the last payment option (negotiated, reflecting opportunity cost). Even though this would involve the highest administrative costs in the short term, they argued that it would be the most sustainable option in the long term.

FOREST PLANNING CONTRIBUTIONS AND OPPORTUNITIES FOR SUSTAINABLE USE: Maria Patricia Tobon, San Nicolás – Masbosques, described the development of the Masbosques afforestation/reforestation Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) project in Colombia. She outlined the relationship between administrative, legal, technical, environmental, economic and social activities, highlighting the important role of frequent stakeholder consultations. She described efforts with land owners to identify drivers of forest loss, underscoring urbanization and land grabbing for commercial products. On migration due to the project, Tobon noted that migration pressures were primarily due to guerilla groups and existing conflicts in the area. She described efforts to assist community members in accessing land titles as a benefit of the project. She underscored that the project represented the first CDM afforestation/reforestation methodology authorized by Colombia and described the involvement of the World Bank and the roles of local community members and the private sector. She noted co-benefits of carbon storage, particularly increasing forest connectivity. Tobon outlined efforts to market additional environmental services, noting that payments were made to participants only once during the project cycle. On the wider impact of the project, she said it had resulted in wider consideration of sustainability and opportunities for PES across Colombia.

REDD+ LEGAL FRAMEWORK: Lucia Ruiz Ostoic, Latin American Network for Environmental Law, moderated an open space to discuss a REDD+ legal framework in Latin America.

Gloria Sanclemente Zea, Ecoversa Corporation, presented results on a comparative study of the legal framework and relevant local customs in four Latin American countries for PES, which can inform a REDD+ framework. She said that the legal framework is sufficient to address REDD+ considering that the environmental policies that were analyzed already provide compensation tools for environmental services. She highlighted the need for further rules on carbon property and allocation of benefits. She called for streamlining environmental conservation in the entire national legal framework. Sergio Arias García, SEMARNAT, discussed the allocation of natural resources competences among institutions, noting that the Mexican national legal framework is ready to address REDD+.

In the ensuing discussions, participants addressed: the legal nature of environmental services and carbon; centralization of permits issuance in some countries; and the need to strengthen law enforcement and justice for environmental infractions. One participant questioned the reconciliation of national laws with international obligations, while another participant proposed harmonizing the legal framework through an environmental code. One participant noted that even if land property includes the property of carbon in trees, it may not include the property of carbon in the subsoil.  

INDIGENOUS PEOPLES: This open space on indigenous peoples and REDD+ was organized by the Coordinator of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon River. The group shared country experiences of various processes with indigenous participation, including participatory demarcation of territories, existing contracts between private enterprises and indigenous peoples, and creating community plans based on community-identified priorities. Others expressed concerns that indigenous communities’ demands are not being taken into account.

The group also shared experiences of how indigenous peoples have managed income from other projects, which varied from investing in educating indigenous technicians and professionals, to cases where money was wasted and traditional forest knowledge lost. Several called attention to projects that changed the traditional way of life. One participant said that “if defense mechanisms against the coming REDD+ wave are not created, indigenous people can disappear tomorrow.” Participants called for safeguards, codes of conduct, recognition of heterogeneity among indigenous communities, and respecting local forms of organization. One participant brought attention to the exclusion of indigenous peoples from the Interim REDD+ Partnership and UNFCCC negotiations.


On Wednesday, Workshop participants had the opportunity to partake in one of four field trips showcasing community forest enterprises in the region. Rapporteurs for each trip reported back to plenary the next day.

Participants on the trip to Santa Catarina Ixtepeji visited a processing plant for pine resin collected from surrounding forests, a plant bottling water from the community watershed, and an ecotourism enterprise, all owned and run by local community members. Reporting back to the plenary, the trip’s rapporteur noted the large investment required to start these projects and the importance of local accountability.

Another group of participants visited forest enterprises in Ixtlán de Juárez, including a tree nursery and a furniture-making factory. The trip’s rapporteur outlined the wide participation of community members and the importance of adding value to products. On characteristics of success, he highlighted: stakeholder engagement and cooperation; the scale of the enterprise; and the consistency of efforts by municipal government over long time periods.

A third group visited Capulálpam de Méndez, officially designated as a “Pueblo Mágico” (magical town). The group visited the local community forest enterprise, as well as a local water-bottling plant, Anda Gagüi. The group representative noted the importance of local enterprises in building social capital.

Participants on the trip to San Antonio Arrazola Xoxocotlán visited the Zapoteca ruins of Monte Alban, and a civil association that produces brightly colored Mexican folk art sculptures of fantasy creatures called “alebrijes.” Noting that the sculptures are made from wood, the group’s representative said that in the past, the massive production of alebrijes caused serious deforestation in the area, but the community has since adopted the use of sustainably managed wood, as well as reforestation efforts. She noted the importance of local organization in the community’s success.


On Friday, Jürgen Blaser, Intercooperation, and Anne Larson presented the Summary of the Workshop, which includes an overview of all sessions and field trips, as well as recommendations to countries and to the UNFF. Blaser listed the recommendations to countries, including to:

  • strengthen the human and institutional capacity of all stakeholders, particularly at the local level in issues relating to SFM and REDD+ using a range of methods for sharing knowledge including partnerships;
  • promote efforts to address knowledge gaps on the risks and opportunities arising from REDD+ and build institutional mechanisms to manage risks;
  • strengthen cross-sectoral coordination and the policy alignment to address drivers of deforestation and forest degradation;
  • promote the involvement of NGOs and other major groups in the design of planning, monitoring and implementing activities, through transparent and participatory processes;
  • build learning platforms for exchange of views between scientists, indigenous peoples and other stakeholders;
  • improve coordination at all levels between agencies that primarily deal with SFM and those that deal with the development of REDD+;
  • engage with and build upon local institutions, traditions, experiences and knowledge for the design and implementation of SFM and REDD+ strategies;
  • intensify national and local efforts to design and implement fiscal policy reforms related to forests and create financial mechanisms that support REDD+;
  • facilitate the development and implementation of national financing strategies, including REDD+ financing within national planning frameworks that depart from and build on national opportunities and the diversity and specificity of local realities and needs;
  • apply or develop adequate and cost effective social and environmental safeguard policies in the development and implementation of REDD+;
  • develop central government forest and REDD+ policies in a way that harmonizes both global and local concerns; and
  • promote increased understanding of global and local perspectives and prioritize and build REDD+ strategies on this.

In the ensuing discussion, a participant recommended that REDD+ should not consist of selling and buying rights, nor should donor countries impose changes on recipient countries. Participants called for: the promotion of involvement of NGOs; explicit link between national level and local or community territory; recognition of the role of the private sector; and reference to both stakeholders and rightsholders. One questioned the implications of “cost-effective” safeguards.

Bläser noted recommendations for UNFF 9, including to:

  • support strengthening the role of local people, including women, in decision making processes;
  • promote SFM and synergies between adaptation and mitigation;
  • promote linkages between SFM and REDD+ policies;
  • share knowledge at all levels;
  • emphasize forest degradation and the enhancement of forest carbon stocks; and
  • strengthen global capacity to meet market demand for products and forest services, including forest carbon, with better forest governance.
  • Participants recommended that the conclusions should reflect the following points:
  • REDD+ should protect sustainable production systems;
  • indigenous territories face a number of threats driving forest loss;
  • consideration of social and cultural boundaries;
  • greater attention to poverty alleviation and benefit distribution;
  • advances in academic research, particularly the importance of institutions and common property; and,
  • the right of indigenous peoples to say “yes” or “no.”

A participant concluded by suggesting that the document be reframed as a working agenda, so that future meetings can propose solutions to the challenges identified in the Workshop.


On Friday, Christian Küchli, Federal Office of the Environment, Switzerland, thanked the organizers and partners. José Carlos Fernandez Ugalde, CONAFOR, noted the progress made at the Workshop and identified opportunities to expand on the work at UNFF 9. He closed the meeting at 6:16pm. 


Workshop on Improving the Regional Distribution of CDM Projects in Asia and the Pacific: This workshop aims to actively increase the number of CDM projects in countries currently hosting fewer than ten registered CDM projects. dates: 8-9 September 2010 location: Manila, Philippines contact: Alma Cañarejo email: internet:

UNFF Ad Hoc Expert Group on Forest Financing: This meeting will be the first open-ended intergovernmental Ad Hoc Expert Group on financing for sustainable forest management, as part of UNFF’s strategic plan on forest financing. dates: 13-17 September 2010 location: Nairobi, Kenya contact: UNFF Secretariat phone: +1-212-963-3401 fax: +1-917-367-3186 e-mail: www:

Workshop on a Practical Guide for Integrating Climate Change into National Forest Programmes: This workshop will bring together results from four previous workshops in Cambodia, Paraguay, South Africa and Tanzania to develop generic guidelines for integrating climate change into national forest policy. dates: 20-21 September 2010 location: Rome, Italy contact: Jerker Thunberg fax: +39-06-570-55137 email: internet:

Global Expert Workshop on Biodiversity Benefits of Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries: This workshop supports the efforts of parties in addressing REDD in the framework of the UNFCCC in a way that contributes to the implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) programme of work on forest biodiversity. dates: 20-23 September 2010 location: Nairobi, Kenya contact: CBD Secretariat phone: +1-514-288-2220 fax: +1-514-288-6588 email: internet:

20th Session of the FAO Committee on Forestry (COFO)/2nd World Forest Week: The biennial sessions of COFO bring together heads of forest services and other senior government officials to identify emerging policy and technical issues, to seek solutions and to advise FAO and others on appropriate action. dates: 4-8 October 2010 venue: FAO Headquarters location: Rome, Italy contact: FAO Forestry Department phone: +39-06-5705-3925 fax: +39-06-5705-31 52 e-mail: www:

Emerging Economic Mechanisms: Implications for Forest-Related Policies and Sector Governance: This forum is co-organized by the University of Tuscia and the FAO, with the support of the International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO). It will take place as an event of the World Forest Week. dates: 5-7 October 2010 location: Rome, Italy additional: FAO Headquarters e-mail: www: http://

UNECE Timber Committee Market Discussions and Policy Forum: The forum, under the theme “Innovative Wood Products are the Future,” will address: wood energy, carbon markets and certified forest products markets, and the role of wood products in mitigating climate change. dates: 11-15 October 2010 location: Geneva, Switzerland contact: UNECE Forestry and Timber Section phone: +41-22-917 1286 fax: +41-22-917-0041 email: internet:

5th Latin American Carbon Forum: This forum promotes knowledge and information sharing on the CDM while facilitating business-opportunity environments among main carbon market stakeholders. dates: 13-15 October 2010 location: Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic contact: Miriam Hinostroza email: internet:

Sixteenth Conference of the Parties (COP 16) to the UNFCCC and Sixth Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol: The 33rd meetings of the Subsidiary Body for Implementation and Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice will also take place concurrently. dates: 29 November to 10 December 2010 location: Cancún, Mexico contact: UNFCCC Secretariat phone: +49-228-815-1000 fax: +49-228-815-1999 email: internet:

Forest Day 4: This event will be held alongside the UNFCCC COP 16. dates: 5 December 2010 location: Cancún, Mexico internet:

46th meeting of the International Tropical Timber Council: This meeting will take place together with associated sessions of the four committees. dates: 13-18 December 2010 location: Yokohama, Japan contact: ITTO Secretariat phone: +81-45-223-1110 fax: +81-45-223-1111 internet:

9th Session of the UN Forum on Forests: The theme for UNFF 9 is ‘Forests for people, livelihoods and poverty eradication’ and the forum is expected to complete discussions on approaches for implementing SFM. dates: 24 January - 4 February 2011 location: New York, USA contact: UNFF Secretariat phone: +1-212-963-3401 fax: +1-917-367-3186 email: internet:



Centre for Tropical Agricultural Research and Teaching
Clean development mechanisms
Community forest management
Center for International Forestry Research
National Forestry Commission of Mexico
UN Food and Agriculture Organization
Payment for environmental services
Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, as wll as the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries
Sustainable forest management
National Autonomous University of Mexico
UN Framework Convention on Climate Change
UN Forum on Forests
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The Oaxaca Workshop Bulletin is a publication of the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) <>, publishers of the Earth Negotiations Bulletin © <>. This issue was written and edited by Reem Hajjar, Eugenia Recio, and Matthew Sommerville. The Digital Editor is Angeles Estrada. The Editor is Robynne Boyd <>. The Director of IISD Reporting Services is Langston James “Kimo” Goree VI <>. Funding for coverage of this meeting has been provided by the Swiss Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN). IISD can be contacted at 161 Portage Avenue East, 6th Floor, Winnipeg, Manitoba R3B 0Y4, Canada; tel: +1-204-958-7700; fax: +1-204-958-7710. The opinions expressed in the Bulletin are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of IISD. Excerpts from the Bulletin may be used in other publications with appropriate academic citation. Electronic versions of the Bulletin are sent to e-mail distribution lists (in HTML and PDF format) and can be found on the Linkages WWW-server at <>. For information on the Bulletin, including requests to provide reporting services, contact the Director of IISD Reporting Services at <>, +1-646-536-7556 or 300 East 56th St., 11A, New York, New York 10022, United States of America.

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