Designing REDD+ to promote sustainable development and reduce poverty

IIED is looking at how REDD+, a scheme which aims to compensate developing countries to reduce carbon emissions and conserve and sustainably manage their forests, can be designed to promote sustainable development and reduce poverty, as well as reduce deforestation and forest degradation.


Lush forests in Ghana – one of the focus countries where REDD+ is relatively new. Photo: Neil Palmer (CIAT)

Project aim

We are investigating the practical economics behind different delivery mechanisms and the relative costs and benefits of different options for:

  • the way REDD+ programmes can be designed, and
  • international, national and sub-national level policies.

Currently, we are focusing on three countries in sub-Saharan Africa — Ghana, Tanzania and Uganda — where REDD+ is relatively new, together with Brazil and Vietnam, where there are already established programmes to provide incentives to reduce deforestation or increase forest cover. 

Potential pro-poor impacts of different REDD+ models

Teams in each of the focus countries are analysing models — many based on existing agro-forestry and payment for eco-system services (PES) systems — which could be used for REDD+. These are all potentially pro-poor, as they involve smallholder farmers and forest-dependent communities.

The aim is to determine whether these pro-poor approaches can be cost-effective, taking into account opportunity costs as well as transaction costs, in particular, the costs of social safeguard measures, such as benefit distribution systems.

Read this briefing on the costs of REDD on a forest reserve in the Amazon region to find out more.

How do countries achieve ‘high-biodiversity REDD+’ in practice? This briefing presents a range of national and international policy options.

Policy choices at local, national or international levels in these countries are also being examined to see whether these support pro-poor REDD+ models, and how they affect the cost-effectiveness in terms of cost per unit of emission reduction.

Poverty reduction in existing pilot projects

In each of the five countries, IIED and partners are working with selected REDD+ pilot projects to track implementation and improve understanding of their impacts on poverty reduction. A key part of this work is a baseline survey of socioeconomic conditions of households, conducted in each pilot area prior to the initiation of REDD+ activities. Read a report with a synthesis of the five baseline surveys.  

The costs involved are also being documented, in particular, the transaction costs for the set up and operation of these pilot projects.

Lastly, we are exploring the relative merits of different types of payment formats from the perspective of the communities involved through focus group discussions and choice experiments (surveys of their preferred choices). 

REDD+ activities are being piloted in:

  • Rio Negro Environmental Protected Area (APA) in Amazonas State, Brazil
  • Aowin Suaman District, Western Region, Ghana
  • Kilosa District, Morogoro Region, Tanzania
  • Ongo Community Forest, Masindi District, Uganda
  • Cat Tien and Bao Lam Districts, Bao Lam Province, Vietnam.


Reducing Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Nepal

A Strategic Environmental and Social Assessment of Nepal’s REDD+ Strategy, Barry Dalal- Clayton, Chandra Bhadra, Ram Bahadur Chhetri, Isilda Nhantumbo, Simon Milledge, Krishna Man Pradhan, Ajay Mathema, Simon Tilleard (2014) ICEM, IIED, SchEMS

Reducing Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Nepal: An Environmental and Social Management Framework, Barry Dalal- Clayton, Chandra Bhadra, Ram Bahadur Chhetri, Isilda Nhantumbo, Simon Milledge, Krishna Man Pradhan, Ajay Mathema, Simon Tilleard (2014), ICEM, IIED, SchEMS

Cost implications for pro-poor REDD+

Cost implications for pro-poor REDD+ in Lam Dong Province, Vietnam, Matthew Ogonowski, Adrian Enright (2013), IIED

REDD+ compensation preferences

REDD+ compensation packages in Lam Dong Province, Vietnam: Assessing the preferences of forest communities, Adrian Enright (2013), IIED

Socio-economic baseline studies

The Kilosa District REDD+ pilot project, Tanzania: A socioeconomic baseline study, George C. Kajembe, Dos Santos A.Silayo, Adam B.S. Mwakalobo, Khamaldin Mutabazi (2013), IIED

Results of a baseline study for a REDD+ pilot area in Brazil: the Rio Negro APA and the Bolsa Floresta Programme, Amazonas Sustainable Foundation (FAS) (2013), IIED

The Ongo Community Forest REDD+ pilot Project, Uganda: A socioeconomic baseline survey, Gorettie Nabanoga, Edward Ssenyonjo, Justine Namaalwa (2012), IIED

The Lam Dong REDD+ pilot area, Viet Nam: A socioeconomic baseline survey, Adrian Enright (2012), IIED

Socio-economic conditions in REDD+ pilot areas: A synthesis of five baseline surveys, Synne Movik, Gene Birikorang, Adrian Enright, George Kajembe, Luiza Lima, Suelen Marostica, Thais Megid Pinto, Gorettie Nabanoga, Maria Nantongo, Justine Namaalwa, Dos Santos Silayo, Arild Vatn (2012), IIED

Country perspectives on REDD

REDD Working Papers: REDD and sustainable development - perspective from Brazil, Thais Megid, Gabriel Ribenboim, Victor Salviati, Virgilio M. Viana (2010), IIED

REDD Working Papers: REDD and sustainable development - perspective from Viet Nam, Tim Holland, Richard McNally (2010), IIED

REDD Working Papers: REDD and sustainable development - perspective from Uganda, Gorettie Nabanoga, Justine Namaalwa, Edward Ssenyonjo (2010), IIED

REDD Working Papers: REDD and Sustainable Development - perspective from Tanzania, A. B. S. Mwakalobo, G. C. Kajembe, D. S. Silayo, E. Nzunda, E. Zahabu, S. Maliondo, D. N. Kimaro (2011), IIED

Background documents

What does it take to achieve pro-poor REDD+? Summary report from workshop held 29 November 2012, Doha, Qatar, Maryanne Grieg- Gran, Leianne Rolington (IIED 2013)


This project is funded by NORAD until December 2013.


Norway: Norwegian University of Life Sciences (UMB)

Brazil: Fundação Amazonas Sustentável

Ghana: Hamilton Resources

Vietnam: SNV

Tanzania: Sokoine University

Uganda: Makerere University