Pathway to impact: Is REDD+ a viable theory of change?

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Key messages

  • A REDD+ theory of change is expected to outline pathways using conditional incentives to achieve reduced emissions. But as practised, REDD+ has evolved into a diversity of measures, while the core element, conditionality, has rarely been applied.
  • Confusion arises when actors fail to distinguish between REDD+ as the outcome of reduced emissions and the framework to achieve them. Convoluted objectives, unclear donor commitments, and competing ideas about what REDD+ is and should pay for (compensation level, beneficiaries), complicate its implementation.
  • The way forward lies in recognising ideological differences for more constructive debates, clarifying technical objectives and embracing pragmatism in implementation.

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