Private sector involvement with REDD+


IIED is working with partners to understand and document the scale of private sector engagement with REDD+, which aims to reduce emissions and conserve forests in specific countries. We are doing this by developing a series of national-level case studies and a global database.

Isilda Nhantumbo, Bright Sibale, and Duncan Macqueen exchange ideas at a Forest Governance Learning Group Learning Event in Mozambique. Photo: Leianne Rolington

Project aim

Reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD+) aims to compensate countries that reduce emissions by reducing deforestation, as well as conserving, sustainably managing or enhancing forests, as a means of mitigating climate change.

REDD+ is rapidly evolving in several countries supported through the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) and the United Nations REDD Program (UN-REDD). Many countries are developing REDD+ readiness preparation plans, while others are well advanced in implementing their plans and developing their REDD+ strategies.

Alongside these national government-led processes, other institutions — including NGOs and the private sector — are involved in REDD+ implementation.

Private sector involvement

There is debate about the extent and the timing of private-sector engagement in REDD+. Some maintain that early engagement is important to inform the design of REDD+ architecture at a global level and to test the robustness of the policy and legal systems for ‘investing’ in ecosystems services commodities, such as carbon. For example, our research has shown that carbon rights legislation is not yet ready for private sector REDD+.

But others believe that the issue of rights to land, forests and carbon need to be addressed before involving the private sector. This ensures that investment does not take place at the expense of the rights of local communities. Issues such as free, prior and informed consent, the principle that a community has the right to give or withhold its consent to proposed projects that may affect the lands they customarily own, occupy or use, as well as properly designed benefit-sharing mechanisms are key to establishing REDD+ projects that will benefit local forest-dependent people.

To inform this debate, IIED is working with partners to develop national-level case studies to document the various private sector initiatives being undertaken in specific countries. We are beginning with Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Mozambique. In the DRC, this work builds on a recent project to map institutional processes and progress for REDD+.

In addition, we are developing a global database to document and better understand the scale of private sector engagement in REDD+. While acknowledging that at times there might be a blurred distinction between NGOs and private sector-led initiatives, the database will also encompass initiatives that are mainly NGO-driven.


Carbon rights legislation: not yet ready for private sector REDD+, Isilda Nhantumbo, Marisa Camargo (2013), IIED Briefing Paper


This work is currently funded by the UK Department for International Development.


Isilda Nhantumbo ( Senior researcher, Natural Resources research group