REDD+ is based on the premise that actors with an interest in reducing emissions will pay for the costs of reducing deforestation. However, concerns have been raised about whether stakeholders in REDD+ host countries will end up bearing at least some of the costs. Drawing on a pan-tropical dataset covering 22 subnational REDD+ initiatives in five countries, we examine the degree to which these concerns about REDD+ are played out.
We find that many institutions in REDD+ host countries, particularly subnational governments, are bearing implementation costs not covered by the budgets of subnational REDD+ initiatives.
Opportunity costs are typically evaluated in terms of the value of production foregone, but can also be assessed in terms of the number of people affected. We show that expectations about which stakeholder groups will bear the greatest opportunity costs depend on whether the metric is total value or total number of people. The stakeholder groups with the greatest number of people affected are likely to be small-scale actors engaged in legally ambiguous land uses, which is a potential barrier to recognition and compensation of their costs.
Our study clarifies the distribution of implementation and opportunity costs by characterizing the institutions and stakeholders that bear the costs of different types of subnational REDD+ initiatives. Thus, it complements common discourses in the benefit-sharing literature about which stakeholder groups have legitimate claims on revenues from REDD+ and should therefore be considered in the design of benefit-sharing systems.