The REDD+ policy process in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) over the past decade has diverged from the initial government planning due to political changes at the international and national levels.
While participation is perceived by government and international actors as one of the biggest achievements of REDD+ in the DRC, non-state actors – particularly civil society organizations and Indigenous groups – are skeptical about inclusiveness within the decision-making process. Social inequalities and local power relations may hinder the implementation of participation instruments and the involvement of local and Indigenous communities, impeding their ability to achieve reduced deforestation and poverty alleviation.
The political economy and the lack of data on deforestation and forest degradation – and on the recently discovered large swamp in the DRC – make it challenging to monitor, report and verify a reduction in forest emissions within a multilevel setting. The experience of REDD+ tested at scale in the DRC through the Mai-Ndombe jurisdictional project highlights the cost challenges of generating timely and accurate data.
Supporting REDD+ finance in the DRC is difficult since the country relies entirely on international funding to fight climate change. A benefits-sharing mechanism remains unclear. Consequently, there is a lack of flexibility in addressing unanticipated costs that may result from the implementation of the process. This jeopardizes the success of the process and raises uncertainty about the expected results.
Emerging issues, such as community forestry and the discovery of large swamp areas, make the DRC more attractive for the REDD+ program. The first issue offers a workaround to the problem of securing communal rights, while the second issue provides additional opportunities for REDD+ activities.