Before designing effective benefit sharing mechanisms for REDD+, it is necessary to resolve the question of what REDD+ seeks to achieve. The objectives profoundly affect the design of benefit and cost sharing mechanisms. Benefits are not only financial. Few REDD+ projects are providing direct financial transfers to households in their early stages, thus benefit sharing requires attention to a wide range of activities.The legitimacy of the decision making institutions and processes is critical. Legal clarity is needed, as is consensus as to which institutions have the right to make decisions and attention to procedural rights.