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The Forest and Climate Protection Programme REDD+

The international forest and climate protection programme REDD+ aims to restrict deforestation and promote reforestation through financial incentives. This will in turn reduce the emission of greenhouse gases. In the scope of its investigation, DEval is evaluating Germany’s contribution to REDD+. The evaluation was completed in 2020.

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The abbreviation REDD+ stands for “Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation and the Role of Conservation, Sustainable Management of Forests and Enhancement of Forest Carbon Stocks in Developing Countries”. This is a concept that was initially discussed at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiations in 2005 – then under the name RED, later known as REDD. The objective is to make protecting forests in their role as carbon stores financially attractive.

The basic idea behind REDD+ is to provide governments and local communities in countries with low and medium incomes with financial incentives which motivate them to achieve verifiable reductions in deforestation and the related CO2 emissions. Reforestation and sustainable forest management are also promoted, as these make a major contribution to forest conservation and climate protection.

The German Federal Government is among the key donors in the area of international forest conservation. Within this framework, the Ministry of Development had supported over 240 initiatives in more than 30 countries by 2019 with a sum amounting to more than 1.4 billion euros. The aim of the evaluation is to analyse the German contribution to REDD+ and develop implications for the future design of corresponding measures.

Results and Implications

Germany makes a key contribution to supporting the partner countries in the REDD+ preparation phase. Moreover, German development cooperation was substantially involved shaping and further developing the REDD+ approach.

Thanks to the German measures, forest management in the partner countries has improved, and the countries have also been able to expand their measurement and analysis capacities. However, the programme has not yet succeeded in combating the complex causes of deforestation or appreciably reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The interests of influential stakeholders from politics and business mean there is a risk that the effects of the German REDD+ measures may not be permanent.

Another reason for this is that it is difficult for the partner countries to provide the necessary financial and human resources over the long term.

When designing future REDD+ measures, it has been suggested that payments should not be made only once emissions have verifiably been reduced.

Instead, funds could be made available as soon as political or administrative milestones have been achieved in the extensive REDD+ preparation phase. Higher carbon prices may provide an additional incentive to protect forests.

The study also implies that local and international drivers of deforestation should be taken into account more in the REDD+ strategies.

To this end, greater consideration should also be given to the responsibility of stakeholders from the private and financial sector as key players in deforestation as well as on the path towards more sustainable land-use practices.

The study suggests that German federal ministries that are involved in REDD+ should intensify their coordination regarding REDD+

In addition, it encourages political reforms in order to address the trade-based drivers of global deforestation in Europe as well. These include stakeholders in global (agricultural) supply chains who promote the clearing of forests through their purchase of raw materials – such as soy, palm oil, wood or beef.

The topic of deforestation relating to raw materials should be specifically brought into the focus of political discussion through parliaments and ministerial PR activities.

Clear communication on the measures, goals and impact of REDD+ is also advocated.


The evaluation was completed in 2020. This is a summary of the results and recommendations; you can find the complete results and recommendations in the report.

Objectives of the evaluation

  • The objectives of the synthesis study are as follows:

  • To synthesise the evidence of German development cooperation’s contribution to REDD+
  • To promote the exchange of knowledge, results and experience between BMZ, the Federal Ministry of the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU), the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL), implementing organisations and other partners
  • To contribute to the future formulation and implementation of German, bilateral and multilateral REDD+ measures and financing arrangements.


REDD+ (Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation and the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries) is an approach to forest conservation and environmental protection developed by the international community under the umbrella of the United Nations. The objective of REDD+ is to reduce the net emissions of greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation and to encourage reforestation and sustainable forest management in countries with low and medium incomes. The REDD+ approach is based on rewarding governments for verifiable emission reductions. Reforestation and sustainable forest management are key components of the contribution to increasing forest biomass and reducing emissions.

The German Federal Government has made a long-term commitment to the international protection and conservation of forests and is one of the leading donors in this area. Currently, the Ministry of Development provides more than EUR 1.4 billion to over 240 forest initiatives in more than 30 countries and 10 regions in the form of financial and technical support. Between 2008 and 2014, EUR 750 million of this was provided to bilateral and multilateral REDD+ initiatives, including the REDD Early Movers (REM) programme, which rewards pioneering countries for their independent initiative in reducing the effects of climate change and maintaining forests. At multilateral level, Germany has contributed EUR 160 million to the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF), in particular to its trust funds made up of multiple donors: the Readiness Fund and the Carbon Fund.

Although REDD+ activities are a key instrument for climate protection, the effects of REDD+ are controversial. Against the backdrop of strategic relevance, the question arises regarding the significance and effectiveness of this instrument, to which German development cooperation also makes a key contribution.

Although there have been an increasing number of well-founded evaluations and studies on REDD+, no overall analysis of the German contribution has been performed. DEval is evaluating the existing findings regarding the significance and effectiveness of the German contribution to REDD+ in a synthesis study.


Based on a reconstructed Theory of Change (ToC) for various phases of REDD+, the synthesis study applies a mixed methods approach in which a desk study is combined with stakeholder interviews. The desk study consists of two parts. The first part entails analysing REDD* evaluations, country contributions and project documents from implementing organisations (GIZ, KfW), BMZ, BMU, BMEL and bilateral and multilateral organisations (UNFCCC) that are relevant to the German REDD+ measures. The second part consists of an analysis of scientific and grey literature regarding REDD+, including REDD+ activities and areas supported by Germany, and a detailed presentation of example cases of REDD+ implementations. Both parts are put into context through qualitative interviews with key players from German REDD+ activities and academic experts.


Portrait von Dr. Sven Harten
© DEval

Dr Sven Harten

Head of Competence Centre for Evaluation Methodology / Deputy Director

Phone: +49 (0)228 336907-950

E-mail: sven.harten@DEval.org

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