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The potential of REDD+ in supporting the transition to a Green Economy in the Congo Basin/El potencial de REDD+ en el apoyo a la transicion hacia una economia verde en la cuenca del Congo/Potentiel de la REDD+ pour soutenir la transition vers une economie verte dans le Bassin du Congo.


The concept of green economy is closely tied to sustainable development and is now used to shape development strategies and economic growth in many developing countries (Musango et al. 2014). As opposed to the former notions which regarded environmental protection to be unequivocally opposite to economic growth, policy makers around the world now see green economy as source of economic growth and job creation (UNEP 2011a). Hence, transition to a green economy entails a shift to an economy whose growth in income and employment is determined by investment that: reduces carbon emissions and pollution; enhance resource and energy efficiency; and prevent the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services which underpins human life on earth. This includes stepping up investment in human and social capital, recognizing the pivotal position of human well-being and social equity as core goals promoted by increase in employment and income.

Discussions on the contribution of activities and actions aimed at reducing deforestation and forest degradation including sustainable forest management, forest conservation and enhancement of forest carbon stocks (REDD+) and moving towards a green economy transition has witnessed much attention in recent times (World Bank 2012). REDD+ is a climate change mitigation mechanism that provides incentives to communities, countries and investors for keeping the forest and tress intact. Outside this climate change mitigation objective, REDD+ activities and investments enhance the capacity of forests in yielding several other non-carbon benefits (NCBs) and services which have potentials in supporting a green economy transition.

There has been rising need over the years for the recognition of multiple non-carbon benefits which can be accrued from REDD+ such as enhancement of ecosystem services as well as the delivery of a host of social objectives (Dickson and Osti 2010, Yemi and Fobissie 2015). Despite the fact that climate change mitigation through the reduction of emission is the core of REDD+, REDD+ activities have the potential of enhancing other forest derived NCBs such as water shed protection and biodiversity conservation among other services which contributes to human well--being (Miles et al., 2014). REDD+ also has the potentials to improve existing forest governance through the strengthening of forest tenure rights, necessary for dictating the equitable sharing of benefits emanating from REDD+ initiatives (Agung et al. 2014). Sunderlin et al. (2014) opine that the clarification of forest tenure rights is among the most fundamental actions to be undertaken by REDD+ proponents so as to guarantee an effective an equitable REDD+ initiative, since the benefits emanating from the REDD+ initiative will be distributed to stakeholders having rights over the forest. It is however, the responsibility of the REDD+ country to develop its own benefit sharing mechanism. Using Cameroon as an example, the country has programmed the testing of its benefit sharing mechanism at the local level (FCPF 2015a). Another non-carbon benefit of REDD+ is the creation of employment opportunities. FAO (2011) underscored the importance of the forestry sector in employing close to 14 million people as of 2010. Bernard et al. (2014) argue that REDD+ activities pertaining to afforestation, reforestation, conservation and sustainable forest management are particularly important in the creation of jobs that support farmers, eco-friendly services and products, wildlife protection, and education. These direct employment opportunities generates additional benefits to forest dependent communities thereby playing an important role in alleviating poverty and supporting economic opportunities. Thus, it is evident that in a green economy transition, REDD+ has some potentials to support outcomes of human well-being, reduced environmental risks and ecological scarcity, and social equity (Watson et al. 2013).

It could be argued on the other hand that REDD+ is not an easy pathway to achieve development. Studies by Maraseni et al. (2014) revealed that albeit REDD+ projects implemented in Nepal was able to provide social safeguards to indigenous people, women and the poor, it was not an attractive market-based option for communities when the additional cost and foregone benefits of the projects were considered. It is the opinion of the authors that a better REDD+ approach would be one that provides incentives for both carbon and NCB that goes beyond environmental and social safeguards. The foregone alternatives of REDD+ initiatives are those benefits that would emanate from alternative uses of forest land in the absence of REDD+ projects. This could be in the form of employment benefits generated by mining and agricultural activities. The mining sector of Sub Saharan African countries for instance contributes to both social and economic development (Huehne 2014). Ironically, mineral deposits in the Congo Basin sometimes coincides with areas of high forest cover, evident by the issuance of mining permits in protected areas of which a good example to cite is the attribution of an oil drilling permit in the Virunga national park by the government of DRC (Coghlan 2014). It is likely that under a REDD+ regime, potential mining sites in forested areas will not be exploited and under such circumstances, REDD+ will be limiting the potential of the mining sector to create employment in the Congo Basin countries. It is therefore important for the activities of the extractive sector and forest conservation to be tackled with caution so as to ensure a smooth transition to a green economy in Africa (Mboringong and Enongene 2015).

REDD+, if well implemented, will address market, policy and institutional failure that have tend to undervalue the role of the forest in climate change mitigation while protecting the rights of the people who depend on the forest for their livelihood. Therefore, there is the existence of clear links between the objectives of REDD+ and those of green economy in the sense that both are out to achieve a change in the business-as-usual economic development so as to slow down the loss of the natural capital (Watson et al. 2013). Moreover, integrating REDD+ in a green economy could help build synergies between them pertaining to policies and planning and as well reduce the transaction and implementation cost associated with pursuing each independently. Despite all these potentials possessed by REDD+ in contributing to a green economy transition, there is very limited information that exists on this in the Congo Basin. This paper therefore seeks to answer some basic questions: How can REDD+ support green economy and at what policy, institutional or operational level in the Congo Basin? And what are the key sectors or sub-sectors and actors involved? It is against this backdrop that this study aims to examine REDD+ options which are viable for a green economy transition in the Congo Basin. The study draws on the green economy sectorial programmes of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) to further analyse proposed REDD+ practices in the different development sectors of Congo Basin countries which can potentially support a Congo Basin regional green economy agenda.

In the subsequent parts of this article, section 2 highlights REDD+ and green economy institutional interactions in Central Africa, section 3 presents the methodology employed in the study, section 4 is a conceptual background on green economy and low carbon development, Section 5 gives an overview of REDD+ and green economy in Central Africa while section 6 presents the potential sectorial contribution of REDD+ to Central Africa's green economy agenda. The policy implications pertaining to the role of REDD+ in enabling a green economy transition in the Congo Basin is discussed in section 7 and conclusions presented in section 8.


The Central Africa Forestry Commission (COMIFAC)--a technical arm of ECCAS, is in charge for coordinating REDD+ activities in the Central Africa sub region while ECCAS takes charge for promoting green economy issues. In 2014, the two institutions brought the ministers in charge of Economy and Finance, Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Forestry and the Environment on the green economy fund in Central Africa and the structural transformation of the natural resources economy. Among the issues discussed at this conference is the timber economy as an example of a non-oil and non-mineral economics of natural resources and the conference proceeded with the scrutinizing of issues pertaining to the Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade's Voluntary Partnership Agreement (FLEGT-VPA) process. The VPA-FLEGT is employed under the REDD+ mechanism of Congo Basin countries to improve forest governance and to achieve sustainable management of forests. Other strategic options highlighted in the REDD+ readiness preparation proposal (R-PP) of the Congo Basin REDD+ participating countries as corroborated by the results (in Table 1) are closely linked to ECCAS' green economy programmes.

It can therefore be argued that options or activities used to achieve REDD+ objectives are in many cases useful in attaining those of green economy programmes of ECCAS. Hence, there is a need for further and stronger institutional coordination and collaboration between COMIFAC and ECCAS on REDD+ and green economy. In this way, a common policy approach can be adopted that will tackle both issues of forest emission reductions (REDD+) and green economy transition in Central Africa which will likely yield synergetic outcomes and eliminate conflicting institutional goals.

At the national level, the countries of the Congo Basin see REDD+ as a mechanism to mitigate global climate change through emission reduction while transiting and transforming into a green economic or low carbon development future. The national REDD+ framework of DRC for example includes a direct reference to a green economy. Among the several scenarios generated and analyzed in DRC in order to establish REDD+ policy reforms options and a pathway for 2035, is the "REDD+ to a green economy" scenario which highlighted the linkages between REDD+ and green economy.

Moreover, the Government of DRC (GoDRC) and RoC have their approved Emission Reduction Program Idea Note (ER-PIN) with clear vision to achieve green economy development. For DRC's ER-PIN to be implemented in the Mai-Ndombe Province, the goal is "to develop a model provincial green development program that provides alternatives and rewards performance to address the challenges of climate change, poverty reduction, natural resource conservation and protection of biodiversity" (GoDRC 2014). Simlarly, the RoC's "ER-Program is not only a pilot jurisdictional REDD+ project, but it is a major component of the country's vision of a green economy which in turn is the basis for long-term sustainable development in the forestry and agricultural sectors" (GoRoC 2014). The Government of Cameroon (GoC) in the same line decided to adopt REDD+ as a development tool which will enable the country achieve sustainable development objectives set by the country in the growth and employment strategy paper and the Cameroon vision 2035 document intended to make Cameroon an emerging economy by 2035 (GoC 2013). These examples demonstrate that REDD+ is a means to an end for Congo Basin countries. This implies that the implementation of REDD+ will definitely contribute to fighting global climate change but most important for Congo Basin countries is to use REDD+ to achieve green economy and low carbon development with reduced environmental impacts.

ECCAS on the other hand adopted green economy as a tool, a pluridisciplinary and multisectorial approach envisage to conciliate natural resources management and socioeconomic development of member states, development of enterprises, creation of jobs and improvement in the living standard of the population, while also serving as a platform for operationalizing sustainable development in the Central African sub region in line with the outcome of the Rio+20 conference (ECCAS 2014). National REDD+ and emission reduction goals of Congo Basin countries are therefore strongly aligned with those of green economy of ECCAS as their goals are all geared towards fostering sustainable development in all its dimensions at the country and regional levels.


This study employs conventional qualitative content analysis method to analyse and interpret the meaning of REDD+ documents submitted by the four main REDD+ Congo Basin countries (Cameroon, Republic of Congo, Central Africa Republic, and Democratic Republic of Congo) to the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF). The interpretation was guided by the different proposed green economy sectorial programmes of ECCAS. By using conventional qualitative content analysis, the coding categories where derived directly from the document (Hsieh and Shannon 2005) and they included: development sectors, actors, drivers, proposed best practices. We analysed the most recent REDD+ documents submitted by the case study countries to the FCFP: the national REDD strategy of DRC and RoC; the ER-PIN of DRC and RoC; and the REDD+ progress report of the four countries. In addition, the REDD+ readiness preparation proposal (R-PP) documents of the four Congo Basin countries were also analysed. Key words and phrases corresponding to the different development sectors that drive deforestation and forest degradation and ultimately increasing the loss of natural capital were identified and analyzed. The different remediation measures for deforestation and forest degradation proposed by the different Congo Basin countries were also identified in the text. The identified measures where then classified and discussed using phrases, concepts and standards deemed most appropriate.


Green economy

The term green economy was appeared in Pearce et al. (1989) in "Blueprint for a Green Economy". Although no initial definition of the term was conceived, green economy was generally recognized as a means of achieving sustainable development. Elements of green economy were further discussed at the World summit on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1992 where the Rio Declaration called for internalizing environmental costs and an elimination of unsustainable production and consumption (UNGA 1992). The green economy concept was subsequently discussed in the World summit on Sustainable development which took place in Johannesburg, South Africa in 2002. This summit called for a change in unsustainable patterns of production and consumption and for the protection and management of the natural resource base of economic and social development (UNGA 2002).

Green economy received a broader interest from developing countries at the UN conference on Sustainable Development in Rio, a decade after the World summit on sustainable development. The UN conference on sustainable development underscored the importance of green economy in the achievement of sustainable development (UNGA 2012). UNEP (2011a) defines green economy as one that results in improved human wellbeing and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities. In its simplest expression, a green economy can be thought of as one which is low in carbon, resource efficient and socially inclusive. This definition emphasizes reduction in emission and pollution, improvement in energy and resource efficiency and minimal or no loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services. Green economy which takes it roots from sustainable development has been recognized by the international community as the way forward by virtue of its potential in combining economic development, social welfare and environmental protection (Montmasson-Clair 2012). In a green economy, the growth in income and the increase in employment are influenced by public and private investments that reduce carbon emissions and pollutions, enhance resource and energy efficiency and prevent the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services (Montmasson-Clair 2012). Forests are of importance in enabling the transition to a green economy since it promotes sustainable development as we move towards a low carbon and more equitable future (UNEP 2011b). Investing in forest maintenance and reforestation activities is likely to make a significant contribution to the green economy transition in the light of not only creating new employment opportunities but as well in the reduction of risks and vulnerability posed by climate change. REDD+ and payment for ecosystem services are opportunities that will guarantee public and private investment in forests which is a requirement for the transition to a green economy (UNEP 2011b). The concept of green economy came in to existence largely in response to the need for low carbon development (LCD) strategies and Van Paddenburg et al. (2012) opine that it is essential in attaining long term economic growth and development.

Low carbon development

Ecological or environmental footprints represent a partial measure of the extent to which humanity is moving along a sustainable development pathway (Cranston and Hammond 2010). There has been growing concern about global climate change emanating from the carbon footprints of humanity. In an attempt to keep pace with economic development while reducing carbon dioxide emissions, different countries have sought for alternative development pathways among which low carbon development has become a widely advocated one (Yuan et al. 2011). Low carbon development strategy was introduced by the conference of parties of the UNFCCC as an approach to achieve a reduction in GHG emissions (Lutken et al. 2011). No agreed definition of the term exists yet due to a variety of economic and social programs that underpins the development priorities of different countries which renders the formulation of a universal definition which incorporates the circumstances of all countries difficult (Mulugetta and Urban 2010). LCD is generally visualized as using less carbon for growth. Low carbon development or low emission development which is considered as a subset of green economy (Allen 2012) seeks to promote economic development while keeping GHG emissions low (Van Tilburg et al. 2011). The quest for economic growth tends to erode the ecosystem that sustain our economies and livelihood and this creates a need for an effort in creating a framework for ecological transition in developing countries in the light of investment in low carbon technologies to enable poorer countries to develop their economies and social development infrastructure within ecological limits (Lutken et al. 2011). LCD in developed countries entails reducing emissions while in developing counties it is tied down to getting access to benefits such as electricity from renewable energy, green jobs and payment for sustainable forest management (Urban 2010). The greening of production via low carbon development is expected not only to reduce carbon emissions but to as well create employment opportunities and improve basic infrastructures (Mulugetta and Urban 2010). In his classification, Urban (2010) identified four types of low carbon development: low carbon growth, low carbon lifestyle, the equilibrium economy and co-existence with nature. Low carbon growth is concerned with the production side of the economy which has to do with the production of goods and services with lower carbon emissions, low carbon lifestyle focus on the ability of consumers to reduce carbon emissions by consuming climate friendly products, equilibrium economy tilts towards the investment in social development rather than growth while co-existence with nature is geared at achieving low carbon development using technological and behavioral change.


Central Africa and the transition to green economy.

The African continent as a whole is highly dependent on natural resources rendering natural capital assets important for economic growth (UNEP 2012). It is therefore not uncommon for the livelihood of millions of African people to be tied to fertile soil, fishery, and forest among other available natural resources. The Central Africa sub region is rich in forest and contains diverse natural resources including but not limited to biodiversity (CBFP 2006) and minerals (Reed and Miranda 2007). Despite the increase rate of the region's economic growth in recent times associated with the exploitation of these natural resources, it is still rocked by poverty, unemployment and underemployment. Central Africa has in recent times been committed to a transition towards a green economy in a way to step up efforts towards improving human well-being through economic growth while safeguarding the environment. Further to this, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and the Government of Chad organized in March 2014, the 30th session of the Intergovernmental Committee of Experts (ICE) under the theme "Industrialization and the retooling of firms for a transition towards a green economy in Central Africa" which is in conformity with the recommendations arrived at the previous ICE session held in Libreville, Gabon the previous year (UNECA, 2014). Experts at this meeting reviewed the challenges and current emergent opportunities for Central African region regarding socio-economic policy choices, the state of industrialization and progress made by enterprises towards green economy transition in Central Africa, giving room for propositions on how to leverage green economy in supporting the sub region's industrialization and transformation (UNECA 2014).

Green economy in Central Africa

The Central African region hosts the Congo Basin (CB) forest which contributes to over 11% of national revenues. Congo Basin countries are keen to foster economic development on one hand while protecting their natural resources on the other hand. In 2007, under the leadership of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), Central African countries adopted the "vision 2025" geared at making green economy a pivotal sector in the economic development of the sub region (Yossa 2013). Green economy was adopted by ECCAS as a tool and a pluridisciplinary and multisectorial approach envisage to conciliate natural resources management and socio-economic development of member states, development of enterprises, creation of jobs and improvement in the living standard of the population, while also serving as a platform for operationalizing sustainable development in the sub region in line with the outcome of the Rio+20 conference (ECCAS 2014). The general secretariat of ECCAS initiated green economy in 2010 under the framework of the Green Economy System of Central Africa (SEVAC) which was finally adopted in 2012 by the ECCAS ministers in charge of forest economy, natural resources and sustainable development. SEVAC is structured around political, institutional, legal and regulatory, financial, promotional, security and operational pillars and constitute amongst others, green economy programmes in the agriculture, mining, construction, timber and energy sectors. In an attempt to implement SEVAC, a green economy fund (FEVAC) is being established (Congo Basin Forest Partnership 2013). FEVAC is a collaboration between the Central African States Development Bank (BDEAC) and ECCAS and is the financial pillar of SEVAC envisioned to finance the structural transformation of the nonoil and non-mineral economy system in Central Africa region (ECCAS, 2014). Under the ECCAS green economy system, each member state is expected to host a unit for the management of a sectorial programme or a technical cabinet of programmes (CIPRODAC) which is meant to play an advisory support role in the mounting and execution of projects. Each CIPRODAC receives projects before they are sent to BDEAC for final examination prior to financing.

REDD+ in Central Africa

The Congo Basin forest is the second largest rainforest in the world after the Amazon. It represents 18% of the world's tropical forests and spans six countries; Cameroon (CMR), Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Republic of Congo (RoC) and Central Africa Republic (CAR) as shown in Figure 1.

The Congo Basin forest is extremely rich in flora and fauna and has the largest number of plant species per unit area in the world with a wide distribution of animal species (about 552 mammals, 300 fish, 460 reptiles and 1000 bird species). Recently, the forest have been degraded due to infrastructural development, logging, mining, slash and burn agriculture among other economic activities (Megevand 2013). The Congo Basin countries are committed to forest conservation and have been actively engaged in REDD+ since its emergence as a climate change mitigation mechanism under the UNFCCC architecture. With the exception of Equatorial Guinea, Congo Basin countries are among the eighteen African countries of forty-seven participating REDD+ countries under the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF 2014). These Congo Basin participating REDD+ countries with the exception of Gabon have their REDD Readiness Preparation Proposal (R-PP) already approved by the Participants Committee (PC) of the FCPF. With the exception of DRC and RoC with an adopted and draft national REDD+ strategy respectively, the other two countries are in the process of developing their respective national REDD+ strategy, characterized by the implementation of several REDD+ pilot initiatives with the overall REDD+ process generally led by the Ministry of Environment of the respective countries. As argued by Fobissie at al. (2014), DRC appears to be the leading REDD+ country in Central Africa. With respect to the development of a monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) system for REDD+ implementation, the elaboration of DRC's national forest monitoring system (greenhouse gas inventory, national forest inventory and land monitoring system using satellite) is currently being implemented within the department of sustainable development (FCPF 2015b). DRC has currently moved into the investment phase of REDD+ with its Emission Reduction Programme Idea Note (ER-PIN) validated by the World Bank Forest Carbon Fund (Forest Peoples Programme 2014). The ER-PINs of both DRC and RoC constitutes two of the eleven ER-PINs in the FCPF pipeline (FCPF 2015c) and both countries are in the process of developing their respective emission reduction program document.

Central Africa Forestry Commission (COMIFAC) steers REDD+ activities at the Central African regional level and is committed to explore opportunities for sustainable forest management and forest conservation under a REDD+ mechanism with the prime goal of contributing to national development agendas.


Key contributions of REDD+ to the Central Africa green economy agenda are summarized in Table 1.

Agriculture sector

In the REDD+ readiness preparation proposal (R-PP) document of the Congo Basin countries, agriculture (small holder subsistence slash and burn and plantation agriculture) was identified as both current and future causes of deforestation and forest degradation. The proposed agricultural practices to increase, maintain or reduce the loss of natural capital while at the same time increasing human wellbeing are linked to sustainable agricultural practices that promotes the use of appropriate technologies to improve productivity (see Table 1). We argue that the proposed agricultural practices can contribute in many ways to the eco-agribusiness programme of ECCAS green economy agenda. First, improved productivity will allow farmers to use some of their produce for home consumption and the rest for income generation through engagement in agribusiness. In some cases, farmers will be directly engaged in agroforestry plantations such as cocoa plantations in Cameroon and the Republic of Congo. However, it can be argued that the transition towards climate smart agricultural practices is capital intensive, implying the need for investment in appropriate technologies. Local and indigenous communities that engage in unsustainable slash and burn agriculture are unlikely to be financially capacitated to invest in such novel agricultural practices. This implies that for REDD+ to support the green economy agribusiness sectorial programme of ECCAS, there is need for the allocation of financial incentives by national governments that will create an enabling environment for the transition towards sustainable agricultural practices.

Second, the use of words like "green, improved and integrated" agriculture in the R-PP and REDD+ national strategy document point to the need and willingness to transform current agricultural production systems to one that can simultaneously enhance food security and rural livelihood, increase sustainable productivity, conserve forest and biodiversity and reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions emanating from agriculture and increasing carbon sequestration while reducing environmental risks especially linked to vulnerability to climate change. Some scholars (Branca et al. 2011, FAO 2013, Harvey et al. 2014, Molua 2012, and Scherr et al. 2012) describe such practices as climate-smart agriculture (CSA) and include among others conservation agriculture, livestock production efficiency and resilience, agroforestry, fisheries and aquaculture. These examples arguably will make big contributions to the eco-agribusiness programme of ECCAS.

Third, to ensure social equity and reduce environmental risks associated with large scale agricultural expansion, efforts to achieve sustainability along agricultural supply chains may be realized by the setting up of international certification systems such as RSPO (Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil). RSPO like other certification standards aims at promoting sustainable production by certifying palm oil producers who comply to a set of principles and criteria based on transparency, legal compliance, environmental, agricultural, labour and social best practices (Azmi and Nagiah 2012, WWF 2012). Certification ensures that agribusiness is economically viable, socially beneficial and promotes practices that are environmentally friendly and helps curb down deforestation, safeguard biodiversity and respect the livelihood of grass root communities. Thus, certification is one of the practices that have the potential to contribute in reducing deforestation and promote eco-agribusiness activities of ECCAS in Central Africa.

Energy sector

Fuel wood (firewood and charcoal) accounts for more than 90% of traditional biomass in Sub-Saharan Africa (Smeets et al. 2012) and many of the rural and urban populations rely predominantly on the forest for this biomass. The extraction of fuel wood from the forest therefore stand out as a major cause of forest degradation in the Congo Basin countries as stipulated in the R-PP. Proposed practices from the R-PP and national REDD+ strategy to increase, maintain or reduce the loss of green economy natural capital can potentially contribute to the bio-energy programme of ECCAS at three levels: policy and institutional, production, and consumption of bio-energy.

At the policy and institutional level, envisaged REDD+ activities in the bio-energy sector include the reform of the energy sector and the elaboration of a domestic energy strategy. Policy reforms and strategy in Cameroon and Central African Republic for example will likely aim at reducing the pressure on forest caused by the extraction of fuel wood. Proposed options in the R-PP include the diversification of energy sources from wood fuel and charcoal to solar, biogas and hydroelectric energies. Policies and strategies will likely focus also on promoting and improving access to these alternative energy sources as well as the infrastructure for supplying them. If successfully implemented under REDD+ activities, we argue, it will create an enabling policy environment for the implementation of the bio-energy progamme of ECCAS.

From the production perspective, wood fuel energy plantations under REDD+ are envisaged in Cameroon, DRC and RoC as the main viable means which can be employed to meet up with the sustainable supply of wood fuel energy. In Goma, DRC for example, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) is helping landowners to start sustainable tree plantations for charcoal so as to meet their energy needs while reducing households' pressure and dependence on the forest for fuel wood. Such initiative will contribute to the green economic agenda of ECCAS especially the bio-energy programme, as the plantation is carried out in marginal areas or areas already deforested hence reducing the environmental risk and ecological scarcity and meets the energy needs of the population (Rademaekers et al. 2010). Outside the role of these plantations in the provision of a reliable and sustainable wood fuel biomass energy, they also possess the potentials of reducing wild savanna fires, avoiding deforestation and forest degradation of natural forests, providing local people with non-timber forest products (NTFPs), sequester carbon as well as creating employment and generating income from the sales of 51,000 cleaner cook stoves.

From the consumption point of view, the REDD+ activities are targeting effective and efficient consumption of wood fuel through the promotion of improved cook stoves. These improved stoves are associated with improvement in human health (and wellbeing), saving of time for households since they cook faster and preserving the forest and other ecosystem services there by reducing emissions that drives global climate change (Jeuland and Pattanayak 2012). The use of well-designed improved stoves increase cooking efficiency by 40-70% (Kammen 1995) and possesses the potential of achieving a 25 to 50% reduction of fuel wood (Poffenberger 2009). The ECCAS green economy agenda on bio-energy could draw experience from REDD+ activities especially what holds in Goma, DRC where the World Wide Fund for Nature has built the capacity of some local business actors on how to build and sell fuel-efficient stoves as a way forward to meet the energy needs of the local population and consequently, halve their consumption of charcoal which accounts for a reasonable proportion of their income expenditure. Thus, the increase access and use of fuel efficient stoves in ECCAS bio-energy programme could be instrumental in lifting households out of poverty and speeding up investments in social development, hence a stepping stone towards contributing to green economy development agenda.

Logging sector

The fight against illegal logging of timbers from the Congo Basin forest is of great concern to both REDD+ and the ECCAS green economy agenda. While ECCAS has a programme to fight illegal logging of timber, REDD+ activities in most of the Congo Basin have identified two main mechanisms that can help in the fight against illegal logging and hence directly contribute to ECCAS green economy agenda. They are Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) of the Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT), and the increase certification of forests under the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification scheme.

European Union's Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) mechanism aims to reduce trade in illegal timber, among others through the signing of Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPAs) with partner countries (Tegegne et al. 2014). FLEGT mechanism, if well implemented, should promote sustainable forest management by combatting illegal logging and trade in timber through improved forest governance (EU, 2003). Three of the Congo Basin countries (Cameroon, Republic of Congo and Central Africa Republic) signed the VPA in 2010 while the Democratic Republic of Congo is still in the negotiation phase of VPA/FLEGT. Under such a scenario, forest governance in these Congo Basin countries is envisaged to witness an improvement and this will consequently curb down illegal logging which hinders green economic development, cause government to lose revenue worth billions of dollars, promotes corruption and undermine governance and the rule of law (Brack 2012). While FLEGT may easily benefit big logging companies, measures should be taken to ensure that the difficult procurement policies and costly procedures to be followed should not adversely affect small scale loggers who are key drivers of economic growth and poverty alleviation in emerging market economies (Eba'a et al. 2013). This implies that REDD+ activities pertaining to the strict implementation of FLEGT could negatively affect the livelihood of small scale loggers and rural communities and under such circumstances, REDD+ will be deviating from supporting the wellbeing of the concerned individuals contrary to one of the objectives of green economy.

Forest Certification mechanism such as the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) on the other hand, promotes environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial and economically viable management of the world's forest (FSC 2013). FSC relies on a certification system which indicates the adoption of sustainable management practices in timber production, on the demand of timber and on market choices by informed consumers which help govern forest activities in a number of countries (Bell and Hindmoor 2012). Therefore, increasing the area of forest cover in the Congo Basin under certification scheme will improve the management and governance of the Congo Basin forest and consequently a reduction in both illegal logging of timber and carbon dioxide emissions emanating from deforestation and forest degradation.

Mining sector

Mining activities carried out both by small holders and large private companies drives deforestation and forest degradation in the Congo Basin (see Table 1). Sound practices to address the impact of the mining sector in the context of REDD+ and a green economy will entail the scrupulous application of good practice guidelines (GPG) such as those adopted by the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) among others. The ICMM in May 2003 designed a set of sustainable development principles and committed its corporate membership to measure the performance of these principles. Principle 7 of the ICMM is out to contribute to biodiversity conservation and an integrated approach to land use planning (Starke 2006). Activities under principle 7 corroborate the identified REDD+ practices such as reforestation and appropriate zoning and land use planning of mined sites aimed at minimizing or restoring the loss of natural capital necessary for green economic development and implementation of ECCAS programme on eco-mining. ECCAS eco-mining operations should therefore take steps to improve the management of biodiversity in the course of the mining cycle. This steps include among others the assessment of the links between their activities and biodiversity, the likelihood of their activities having an impact on biodiversity, put in place mitigation measures for potential impacts on biodiversity and remediation strategies for affected areas, and explore the potential of contributing to biodiversity enhancement or conservation including rehabilitation and restoration of mined sites (Starke 2006).

Infrastructure sector

Construction/infrastructural development carried out by the state and private sector drives deforestation and forest degradation in the Congo Basin countries as revealed by this study. A summary of the identified best practices viable for REDD+ which could support the sustainable construction green economy programme of ECCAS is land use planning, which will lead to the designation of sites for construction. No construction project can be designed and implemented perfectly without flaws, however, sustainable construction with very minimal impacts on the social, economic and environmental dimensions could be achieved through intelligent decision making informed by the available knowledge of impacts associated with each of the identified alternatives. Hence, government of Congo Basin countries should consider where possible, implementing construction projects in areas where the overall impact on the forest and the natural environment will be lowest, after having evaluated the different possible options. This should among others entail the avoidance of having a construction project implemented within a high conservation value forest (HCVFs), which are outstanding forested areas with high environmental, socio-economic, biodiversity or landscape values (Maesano et al. 2011).

Forestry sector

Activities in the forestry sector of the respective Congo Basin countries are oriented towards conservation and enhancement of forest carbon stocks, and the sustainable management of forests. From the national REDD+ strategy and R-PP of the Congo Basin countries, a summary of the identified REDD+ practices in the forestry sector with potential of supporting the ECCAS green economy programme includes: identification of potential sites for afforestation/reforestation, implementation of afforestation/reforestation projects, zoning, strengthening of forest management and development of forest certification scheme.

Afforestation and reforestation programmes in the respective Congo Basin countries could actually support the green economy afforestation and reforestation sectorial programme of ECCAS since both REDD+ and green economy will entail the planting of trees within the Central Africa sub region. REDD+ strategies geared at sustainable management of the Congo Basin forests is likely not only to guarantee the sustainable exploitation of timber resources but as well the sustainable production of non-timber forest products which plays a vital role in sustaining rural economies. Hence, the sustainable forest management practices under the REDD+ regime of Congo Basin countries is likely to support the non-timber forest product programme of ECCAS. REDD+ forest carbon stock conservation activities in the Congo Basin countries could support the eco-tourism programme. However, it could be argued that conservation activities under REDD+ may not be in line with eco-tourism activities under green economy. In a situation where eco-tourism is more oriented towards wildlife conservation, conservation of forest carbon stocks is likely going to make less contribution to the eco-tourism programme. This implies the need for a close collaboration between the institutions in charge of tourism and those in charge of forest conservation for the elaboration of win-win strategies.


REDD+ and green economy initiatives in Central Africa have several commonalities in terms of field programmes and activities (see Table 1). At the regional institutional levels however, the Central Africa Forestry Commission (COMIFAC) is in charge of the former while the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) leads the latter. COMIFAC as a specialized institution under ECCAS has the mandate to oversee and steer sustainable forest management in Central Africa. ECCAS on the other hand is in charge of promoting regional economic co-operation between the 10 Central Africa states. With different mandates, there are however, some indications that the two institutions are interacting together to discuss and strategize on REDD+ and green economy. For example, ECCAS and COMIFAC organized two extra ordinary conferences of ministers in 2009 and 2010 which led to the declaration and willingness of the 10 member states of ECCAS and COMIFAC to continue their efforts towards the sustainable forest management and REDD+ in Central Africa.

REDD+ activities in Central Africa have potentials to support green economy sectorial programmes as indicated in Table 1. However, REDD+ is not a silver bullet for achieving green economic growth in the sub region as REDD+ activities and objectives may conflict with those of green economy. For instance, it is likely that the agribusiness programme of ECCAS will generate employment opportunities for local populations which will improve their wellbeing whereas REDD+ on the other hand may limit the establishment of agribusinesses which will impact on forest cover such as palm plantations. Also, areas of mineral deposits often overlap with those of high forest carbon stocks in the Congo Basin. Mining operations under the ECCAS green economy eco-mining programme in such locations will likely be conflicting with REDD+ activities.

For REDD+ and green economy to be effectively implemented and coordinated in the Central Africa sub region, there are barriers to be dealt with. REDD+ and green economy are coordinated by COMIFAC and ECCAS respectively, two regional institutions. It is therefore not uncommon for institutional collaborations between both institutions to emerge as a barrier for the coordination of the two agendas at the regional level. At the country or national levels, REDD+ and green economy are implemented by diverse government ministries and institutions. Collaboration between these different ministries and institutions remains a major barrier to the implementation of both REDD+ and green economy in the countries of the Central Africa sub region. Hence, ensuring good collaboration between COMIFAC and ECCAS at the regional level and a better inter-ministerial coordination between technical ministries at the national level are requirements for integrating REDD+ and green economy programmes in Central Africa.


REDD+ implementation in the Congo Basin is not only instrumental in mitigating climate change through significant reductions in carbon dioxide emissions emanating from the forestry sector, but will as well yield viable outcomes which enables a green economy transition through its support to the social, economic and environmental pillars of the green economy concept. The identified proposed REDD+ practices for Congo Basin countries includes: climate smart agricultural practices characterized by the use of appropriate technologies to augment productivity and increased certification of agricultural plantation under certification schemes like RSPO for palm plantations in the case of agriculture; reform of the energy sector and the elaboration of a domestic energy strategy, establishment of energy plantations and a shift towards energy efficiency-use of fuel efficient stoves for the energy sector; effective implementation of the FLEGT mechanism and certification of forests under schemes like FSC, in the case of logging; the adoption and implementation of the ICMM good practice guideline for biodiversity by mining companies; an appropriate land use planning for construction projects which will inform their implementation in areas where the consequent loss of forest will be minimal; and the implementation of afforestation/reforestation projects, zoning, strengthening of forest management and forest regulatory framework for the forestry sector. These identified best practices can respectively support the: eco-agribusiness programme; bioenergy programme; programme for the fight against illegal logging for timber and the programme against exploitation and trade in illegal timber; the eco-mining operations; the sustainable construction; and the reforestation and afforestation programme, the non-timber forest programme, protected areas programme and eco-tourism sectorial programmes of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) green economy document. Thus, there is the existence of strong links between REDD+ and green economy in the Congo Basin and the implementation of REDD+ programs in Congo Basin countries should be carried out as part of a green economy development. Hence, collaboration between COMIFAC (climate working group) and the General Secretariat of ECCAS on issues of REDD+ and green economy will go a long way to maximize synergies between the two concepts and reduce the overall cost associated with implementing each of them independently.


This study was made possible with funds from the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Green Heart of Africa (GHoA) Initiative.


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(1) Institute of Agriculture and Environment, Massey University, Palmerston North, Manawatu, 4410, New Zealand.

(2) Viikki Tropical Resources Institute (VITRI), Department of Forest Sciences, P.O. Box 27, Latonkartanonkaari 7, FI- 00014 University of Helsinki, Finland

Email: and

TABLE 1 Potential REDD+ sectorial linkages and contributions
to ECCAS green economy programme

Sectors in        Country   Links to REDD+        Key Actor
REDD+ R-PP                  activities

Agriculture       CMR       -Deforestation        -Private sector
                                                  -Small holder

                  CAR       -Deforestation        -Private sector
                            -Forest degradation   -Small holder

                  DRC       -Deforestation        -Private sector
                                                  -Small holder

                  RoC       -Deforestation        -Private sector
                                                  -small holder

Energy            CMR       -Forest degradation   -Local population

                  CAR       -Deforestation        -Local population
                            -Forest degradation

                  DRC       -Forest degradation   -Local population

                  RoC       Forest degradation    -Local population

Logging           CMR       -Forest degradation   -Private sector
                                                  -Small holder

                  CAR       -Forest degradation   -Private sector
                                                  -Small holder

                  DRC       -Forest degradation   -Private sector
                                                  -Small holder

                  RoC       -Forest degradation   -Private sector
                                                  -Small holder

Mining            CMR       -Deforestation        -Private sector
                            -Forest degradation   -Small holder

                  CAR       -Deforestation        -Private sector
                            -Forest degradation   -small holder

                  DRC       -Deforestation        -Private sector
                            -Forest degradation   -small holder

                  RoC       -Deforestation        -Private sector
                            -Forest degradation   -small holder

Infrastructure/   CMR       -Deforestation        -The state
construction                                      -Private sector

                  CAR       -Deforestation        -The state
                                                  -Private sector

                  DRC       /                     /

                  RoC       -Deforestation        -The state
                                                  -Private sector

Forest            CMR       -Sustainable          -The state
                            forest management     -Private sector

                  CAR                             -The state
                                                  -Private sector

                  DRC                             -The state
                                                  -Private sector

                  RoC                             -The state
                                                  -Private sector

                  CMR       -Conservation of      -The state
                            forest carbon         -Private sector


                  DRC                             -The state
                                                  -Private sector

                  RoC                             -The state
                                                  -Private sector

                  CMR       -Enhancement of       -The state
                            forest carbon         -Private sector

                  CAR       stock                 -The state
                                                  -Private sector

                  DRC                             -The state
                                                  -Private sector

                  RoC                             -The state
                                                  -Private sector

Sectors in        Country   Proposed practices to increase,
REDD+ R-PP                  maintain or reduce the loss
                            of natural capital

Agriculture       CMR       - Green agriculture
                            - Agricultural intensification
                            - Agro- pastoral system

                  CAR       - Improve agricultural technologies
                            - Complete zoning of territories

                  DRC       - Sustainable agriculture
                            - Control and monitor large scale
                            - Development of a legal framework and
                            structuring of the rural milieu
                            - Land use planning
                            - Capacity building

                  RoC       - Agricultural intensification
                            - Improve technical and management
                            capacity of producers
                            - Ameliorate production system through
                            the establishment of micro credit
                            - Organize agricultural producers
                            in groups

Energy            CMR       - Improve furnaces/hearths
                            - Plantation
                            - Energy sector reform

                  CAR       Develop domestic energy strategy

                  DRC       - Develop alternative sustainable fuel
                            wood energy supply.
                            - Create platform for stakeholders
                            - Replicate best practices for
                            sustainable wood energy production
                            - Model land use impact of different
                            - Develop national strategy for wood and
                            alternatives energy.
                            - Promote renewable energy and energy

                  RoC       - Improve wood energy availability
                            and use

Logging           CMR       - Community plantations for energy
                            - Promote clean energy
                            - Energy production from waste recovery

                  CAR       - Efficient logging and transformation
                            of wood

                  DRC       - Fight against illegal use
                            - Restoration of degraded forest
                            - Reduced impact logging

                  RoC       - Implement reduced impact logging

Mining            CMR       - Restore mined sites

                  CAR       - Capacity building of civil society
                            on forest management
                            - Provide support to the government

                  DRC       - Revise legal framework
                            of the mining sector
                            - Strengthen law enforcement
                            - Mitigate and rehabilitate mining sites.
                            - Zoning that allocates future
                            mining sites

                  RoC       - Implement REDD+ safeguard and offset
                            for the mining sector.

Infrastructure/   CMR       - Appropriate land planning

                  CAR       - Complete zoning of territories
                            - Strengthen institutions and governance

                  DRC       /

                  RoC       /

Forest            CMR       - Strengthen the management of communal
                            and production forests

                  CAR       - Implement FLEGT
                            - Develop sustainable forest management
                            certification schemes
                            - Reinforce independent observation
                            of entitlement and logging.

                  DRC       - Update and implement national
                            forest policy
                            - Ameliorate legal, fiscal and
                            institutional framework for logging.
                            - Finalize macro zoning process
                            of forest land.
                            - Use of plantation wood for
                            the domestic market
                            - Promote reduced impact logging
                            and forest certification
                            - Implement REDD+ project in forest
                            concessions and periphery.
                            - Promote sustainable agricultural
                            practices to local communities.
                            - Capacity building of local
                            - Support micro-zoning, community
                            development plan
                            - Implement forest management plan.
                            - Promote legal artisanal
                            exploitation of wood.
                            - Respect of the principles of free,
                            prior, and informed consent (FPIC).

                  RoC       - Improve contribution of the forestry
                            sector to economic development of local
                            and indigenous people.
                            - Improve qualitative and quantitative
                            knowledge on the forest and wildlife
                            resources in the country.

                  CMR       - Strengthen forest regulatory
                            - Promote payment for environmental
                            services (PES).

                  CAR       - Zoning of non- delimited forest and
                            non-forest areas.
                            - Map and enhance protected areas.

                  DRC       - Evaluate the health of protected
                            - Modify, declassify and reclassify
                            the national network of protected areas
                            - Promote community management
                            of natural resources.
                            - Build capacity of indigenous
                            and local communities.
                            - Strengthen law enforcement.

                  RoC       - Reinforce network of protected areas
                            - Promote ecotourism
                            - Reinforce the participation of local
                            and indigenous people

                  CMR       - Reforestation and afforestation
                            in the different agro- ecological zones.

                  CAR       - Formulate large scale reforestation
                            - Identify and map potential sites
                            for reforestation.
                            - Develop and implement reforestation

                  DRC       - Promote assisted natural regeneration
                            (ANR) of degraded lands.
                            - Macro- zone areas for afforestation
                            and reforestation.
                            - Educate stakeholders on the benefits
                            of tree planting and ANR
                            - Implement best forestry or
                            agroforestry models for tree planting.

                  RoC       - Plant trees through the national
                            afforestation and reforestation

Sectors in        Country   ECCAS green economy
REDD+ R-PP                  programme concerned

Agriculture       CMR       Eco-agribusiness




Energy            CMR       Bio-energy programme




Logging           CMR       Illegal logging




Mining            CMR       Eco-mining operations




Infrastructure/   CMR       Sustainable construction
construction                programme




Forest            CMR       Non-timber forest
                            product programme

                  CAR       Illegal logging



                  CMR       Eco-tourism programme
                            Protected areas




                  CMR       Afforestation and
                            reforestation programme



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Author:Enongene, K.E.; Fobissie, K.
Publication:International Forestry Review
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Geographic Code:6ZAIR
Date:Mar 1, 2016
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