Identifying and Working with Beneficiaries When Rights Are Unclear: Insights for REDD+ Initiatives
The sustainability of REDD+ initiatives will depend heavily on whether there is an adequate determination of local as well as national beneficiaries. REDD+ offers a unique opportunity for new benefit streams for local communities. At the same time, REDD+, by recognizing new value in remote forest lands, could intensify struggles for rights and control of these forest lands. To prevent REDD+ efforts resulting in conflicts, the more powerful parties will need to work with complex local situations and be willing to engage with a broad range of stakeholders. Dealing with complex local situations with multiple actor institutions can result in serious transaction, negotiation, and enforcement costs, diminishing the benefits that reach the local level. To avoid this, the identification of beneficiaries and efforts to work with them must be both legally correct and pragmatic.
Designing benefit allocations is in part a matter of compensation for rights foregone, but other interests also need to be addressed. It is critical to create incentives for cooperation with the REDD+ initiative. This is the key to sustainability, because government’s enforcement capacity is often quite limited, and while any REDD+ initiative will require some degree of enforcement, few will succeed without effective incentive strategies.
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