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Introduction to the GLOBE Forest Legislation Study

Many tropical forest countries are now ready to begin revising existing legislation and designing new laws and regulations to incorporate national plans to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+). Currently, REDD+ pilot projects generally fall within an amalgam of existing forest legislation and policy guidelines, ministerial decrees and regulations as well as national climate change policies, some of which are non-legally binding. In light of the large volume of complex legislation across multiple sectors inherent in REDD+ issues at national levels, there is a critical need for analysis of relevant legal instruments in clear and simple terms via a step-by-step approach, in order to assist countries in legislative reform and implementation.

Responding to this need, GLOBE International has prepared the "GLOBE Forest Legislation Study", which includes detailed studies on REDD+ legal frameworks in four key forested developing countries – Brazil, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Indonesia and Mexico. These countries have been selected because they are major forested countries which are currently in the process of either preparing or starting to implement national REDD+ strategies. The four countries are also part of the GLOBE Forest Legislation Initiative (GFLI).

The GFLI works directly with senior legislators in the four countries (as well as Colombia and Peru since 2013) to improve forest governance, law enforcement, financial scrutiny, accountability and policy coordination whilst facilitating progressive and early engagement of national parliaments with REDD+.

Given GLOBE's unique access to legislators through national GLOBE chapters established in the parliaments in each of the four countries, the results of the study will directly inform ongoing legislative reform processes and support GLOBE's wider work with legislators on REDD+ legislative reform, including capacity building, South-South cooperation and international dialogue, and strategic advising of legislators on REDD+.

The aim of this study is to highlight potential legislative interventions in the GFLI countries that would support the implementation of their national REDD+ Strategy. The focus is on realistic, timely and politically attractive legislative amendments either of existing legislation or new REDD+ legislation in countries where it is already being advanced. Considering the continuing uncertainty over a final international REDD+ agreement, these amendments should improve national legal frameworks by promoting early action to reduce deforestation and forest degradation even without a global REDD+ mechanism.

This study builds on and complements past and ongoing REDD+ legal reports, most of which have been largely descriptive of national REDD+ frameworks to date. Each of the national chapters within this study will focus in greater analytical detail on how to integrate REDD+ national strategies into legal frameworks, both within the forest sector and other sectors that are connected to deforestation, e.g. agriculture, spatial planning, land tenure, etc.

The study has been authored by national consultants/REDD+ legal experts in each of the four GFLI countries: Ludovino Lopes - Brazil, Augustin Mpoyi - DRC, Syarif Laode - Indonesia and Julieta Lira and Andres Avila Akerberg - Mexico. The executive summary and comparative analysis has been authored by John Costenbader and Darragh Conway, Climate Focus.

To reduce the environmental footprint of the publication of this study, we have chosen to print only the Executive Summary of the Study. The four comprehensive country studies upon which the Executive Summary is based (Brazil, DRC, Indonesia and Mexico) are available in pdf versions on www.globeinternational.org

The four country studies have all been drafted based upon a shared Terms of Reference and framework of analysis. The first step has been to identify the latest national REDD+ strategy. As each country has not yet produced a final REDD+ strategy, the most recent and appropriate government paper(s) on REDD+ have been used. Once a strategy has been identified, it has been analysed using a framework that has allowed for consistent analysis between the four countries. This analytical structure includes eight "REDD+ themes" that have been identified to reflect the key aspects of REDD+. These are outlined below:

  1. Land, Forest & Carbon Tenure
  2. Spatial Planning
  3. Institutional Arrangements
  4. Public Participation
  5. Benefit Sharing
  6. Safeguards
  7. MRV
  8. Implementation & Enforcement

These themes have been chosen to capture the key aspects of the Cancun agreement on REDD+[1] and provide a comprehensive framework to analyse the latest REDD+ national strategies. It should be noted that while the drivers of deforestation do not have a specific theme in this structure, the "spatial planning" and "implementation and enforcement" themes cover some of the underlying causes of deforestation.

Furthermore, the comprehensive approach adopted in this study of considering all the legal frameworks that is relevant to REDD+ means that every sector that influences the state of forests will be included in the gap analysis.

National legal frameworks have defined as national legislation, decrees and/or regulations with a comparable status, which are relevant to REDD+. Furthermore, while the focus of the study is on the national/federal level legislation, REDD+ legislation and policies that are being advanced at the state/provincial level are also touched upon in certain cases.

Throughout the drafting of the study, there has also been a certain degree of flexibility for the national authors to influence the focus of the content of each chapter. As a result, the four country chapters all carry their unique style and focus. Nonetheless, as they all cover the eight REDD+ themes outlined below, a comparative analysis has been highly relevant and possible.

The Executive Summary and comparative overview chapter summarizes the different approaches adopted by the four GFLI countries to implement REDD+ and provides an overview of legislative reform options. It goes beyond summarizing what is already stated in the country studies, providing overarching gap analysis and commentary in each of the eight thematic areas mentioned above.

The Executive Summary and Comparative Overview also places the study in a wider context, commenting on the relevance of its findings for the UNFCCC negotiations on REDD+ and other international REDD-related processes and debates. It identifies areas for potential further research, and any potential next steps for political action, for national legislators in the countries concerned as well as for GLOBE and the GFLI in relation to international REDD+ policy.