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It is widely accepted that REDD+ needs to provide social, environmental and governance benefits, both to make greenhouse gas emissions reductions/removals (ERRs) possible and to ensure permanence. Such benefits can be more broadly described as REDD+ Non-Carbon Benefits (NCBs).

The importance of NCBs as part of results-based payments and their relationship with REDD+ safeguards implementation was first recognised at the UNFCCC meeting in Bangkok in September 2012. This resulted in a decision at COP18 in Doha, which contains two relevant components: 

The inclusion of ways to incentivize NCBs in the 2013 work programme on scaling up and improving the effectiveness of REDD+ finance; and

A request to the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) at its 38th session (Bonn, June 2013) to initiate work on methodological issues related to NCBs resulting from the implementation of REDD+ activities, and to report on this matter to COP19 (Warsaw, November 2013).

The REDD+ work stream already has several issues that are either unresolved (i.e. Measurement, Reporting and Verification (MRV), National Forest Monitoring Systems (NFMS) and Reference Levels (RLs)/Reference Emission Levels (RELs), further guidance on Safeguards Information Systems (SIS), drivers of deforestation and market/non-market approaches to REDD+), or are new (i.e. institutional arrangements for REDD+, and co-ordinated results based finance for REDD+). To speed up progress in terms of efficiency and ensuring outcomes, discussion of these agenda items, particularly those linked to NCBs, would benefit from streamlining. Although many of the above issues are linked, they tend to be discussed in isolation from each other. This “siloed” approach to the negotiations is inefficient and prevents the effective incorporation of lessons learned from the other areas.

As this briefing paper by the REDD+ Safeguards Working Group (R-SWG) will demonstrate, NCBs are intrinsically linked to a number of important outstanding issues on REDD+ such as results- based finance, SIS, NFMS and drivers of deforestation and forest degradation. The R-SWG considers it possible to make progress on all of these issues in a useful and practical way by advancing the NCB discussion in a streamlined manner, particularly by grounding it in demonstrated experience and lessons learned with the REDD+ safeguards.