Grassroots communities speak out on REDD+

Bangkok, Thailand – Grassroots voices from Indonesia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Nepal and Viet Nam will be heard at the Meeting on Enhanced Cooperation for Asia-Pacific Forests and Climate Change in Bangkok on 12 May 2016. Local communities’ concerns and recommendations on REDD+ are highlighted at the event to inform future climate change and REDD+ capacity development projects in the region.  

Field officers working on RECOFTC’s 'Grassroots capacity building for REDD+' project will take part in the meeting. With support from Norad, the project has worked with governments, civil society organizations and local communities in five countries in Asia since 2009 to develop the capacities of 5000 REDD+ trainers and facilitators from grassroots communities. 

Through a series of consultations, the project has documented grassroots concerns and aspirations about REDD+. The project is working to ensure that these concerns are heard and taken up by policy makers and other REDD+ stakeholders on the national, regional and international levels.

"Respecting existing customary lands must be the first step for REDD+ implementation. There should also be clear land tenure policy and regulations to ensure that land conflicts with communities can be prevented or reduced," said Theya Chaw, a local community member from Myanmar.   

According to Yuliatin, a female preacher from a local community in Indonesia who took part in the project, "It’s very important for us local communities to have assurance on our legal rights and support from policy makers so we can sustainably manage our forests and contribute to REDD+."

A summary of the common concerns and aspirations of grassroots stakeholders for REDD+ are:

  • Complexity of REDD+ language: The concept of REDD+ still remains abstract for grassroots communities due to its complex and technical language. Unclear and conflicting messages on REDD+ can raise expectations or exacerbate misunderstandings among the stakeholders;
  • Respect for local knowledge: Due to the fact that REDD+ knowledge is still limited to a few select experts, grassroots stakeholders raised concerns that traditional knowledge has not been sufficiently recognized and integrated in REDD+ design and policy processes;
  • Unclear land tenure and rights: Concerns abound that REDD+ will serve as a catalyst for the escalation of conflicts, especially between communities and government, if the land-use rights of local communities are not safeguarded;
  • Transparent benefit sharing mechanism: Lack of understanding on benefit sharing from REDD+, arising from poor information sharing processes, and a lack of clear tenure rights could result in conflict among the stakeholders;
  • Alternative livelihoods: There are concerns that REDD+ may pose restrictions for forest user groups to secure and increase forest carbon stocks. REDD+ planning therefore needs to offer alternative mechanisms  to  compensate for potential loss of forest based livelihoods; and
  • Sustainability of REDD+: Apprehensions about the sustainability of REDD+ have been raised, mainly because many consider this as a mechanism that is top down and ‘imported’ and, due to its complexity, it is always challenging to get buy-in from grassroots stakeholders, who are expected to drive the mechanism at the local level.

"The perspectives of grassroots stakeholders must be incorporated in all aspect of REDD+ due to the fact that climate change impacts and REDD+ interventions affect rural communities the most. Obtaining local communities’ acknowledgment, buy-in and commitment to secure and drive REDD+ implementation are key to the successful implementation and sustainability of REDD+," said Chandra Silori, Senior Program Officer, RECOFTC.

To address the concerns, grassroots stakeholders put forward these recommendations:

  • Improve communication and outreach strategies: Improve accessibility of information on REDD+ by investing in grassroots facilitators who serve as key agents to communicate REDD+ updates to grassroots people;
  • Safeguarding livelihoods of grassroots people: Local livelihoods attached to forests are crucial for grassroots people. Therefore REDD+ design and preparedness should ensure that it will bring both carbon and non-carbon benefits to local stakeholders.; and
  • Participation of grassroots people in REDD+ policy processes: Inclusive and participatory approaches need to be inbuilt in REDD+ design and implementation processes. Special attention is needed to ensure active participation of women and marginalized groups – empowering them with knowledge, integrating their voices into policy processes, obtaining their consent prior to REDD+ implementation and using the Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) approach.

For more information, see or contact Detty Saluling at