Latest On The Conservation Gateway

A well-managed and operational Conservation Gateway is in our future! Marketing, Conservation, and Science have partnered on a plan to rebuild the Gateway into the organization’s enterprise content management system (AEM), with a planned launch of a minimal viable product in late 2024. If you’re interested in learning more about the project, reach out to for more info!

REDD+ Merida Learning Exchange: Social Dimensions of REDD+


On May 7-9th in Merida, Mexico, The Nature Conservancy and Alianza MexicoREDD+ hosted a REDD+ Learning Exchange: Social Dimensions of REDD+. 

This event was made possible by the generous support of the Government of Norway and the United States Agency for International Development. 75 people from eight countries attended the learning exchange including representatives from NGOs, federal, state and local governments, community organizations, Indigenous territories, universities and private companies. The Learning exchange was held at the Hyatt Regency Merida for 2 days followed by a field visit to San Marcos Ejido.

This event brought together practitioners and international experts to share lessons, examine case studies, and discuss innovative approaches to strengthening and measuring the social benefits of REDD+. Participants learned how different programs are addressing challenges related to:
​•    Achieving community benefits at a large scale
•    Generating benefits for communities and developing systems for sharing benefits
•    Engaging communities in forest monitoring
•    Developing social objectives and monitoring social impacts
•    Incorporating rights-based approaches into implementation of REDD+ programs

Erin Myers Madeira, Senior Advisor for Forests & Climate at The Nature Conservancy, opened the event with a presentation entitled Social Benefits of REDD+: Towards a Holistic Approach to Generating Benefits. She presented a framework for the three types of benefits that can be generated by REDD+ programs:
•    Opportunities for wealth creation
•    Enhanced security, including tenure security, and secure access to resources
•    Empowered individuals and communities to participate in decisions affecting local land use and development
Special attention should be paid to how these types of benefits can be generated during the different phases of REDD+: scoping and readiness phases; demonstration and policy development phases; and full implementation phases.
In order to design a REDD+ program that achieves climate goals while contributing to improvements in stakeholders’ well-being, four factors should be considered:
1.    Who is the program targeting?
2.    How do you tailor the program to meet the needs of different stakeholder groups?
3.    What is the right delivery mechanism to create incentives and deliver benefits?
4.    How do you ensure the overall legitimacy of the program?
Marcio Sztutman, Amazon Conservation Manager at The Nature Conservancy shared a case study of how the Amazon Program is working with Indigenous People to develop life plans and conducting ethnomapping, to demonstrate how his team is working with an important stakeholder group to understand their values and interests as the foundation for developing programs and activities that are aligned with their priorities. In his presentation Amazon Native Lands: From Local Action to National Policies, Participation Is at Its Core, Marcio illustrated how a mental map drawn by the community can be combined with remote sensing imagery to then begin to develop a management plan. In addition, TNC has worked at the national level to promote government support for Indigenous Lands Management and to enable and empower Indigenous People to negotiate in national forums related to support for Indigenous land management.
Greg Fishbein, Managing Director of the Forest & Climate Program at The Nature Conservancy, moderated a panel called Lessons from the Field: Four Case Studies of Social Benefits from REDD+. Case studies included:
1.    REDD+ Benefits for Communities in Berau: Designs, Lessons, and Challenges. Herlina Hartanto, Community and Protected Areas Senior Manager for The Nature Conservancy’s Indonesia Terrestrial Program
2.    Social Benefits linked to REDD+ : WCS Experiences. Tom Evans, Coordinator for REDD+ and Forest Conservation at the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS)
3.    From Action on the ground to policy level: Payment for Environmental Services. Eric Castanares Maddox, Forest Coordinator for the Yucatan Peninsula at The Nature Conservancy.
4.    Central Xingu Program and Fund: Designing a Benefit Sharing Scheme. Fernanda Carvalho, Climate Change Policy Coordinator in Brazil for The Nature Conservancy.
Afternoon breakout sessions explored some of the challenges and strengths of the morning’s case studies. Key insights included:
•    There can be multiple types of performance-based incentives: Input-based incentives can be provided contingent on a stakeholder group demonstrating that they carried out agreed upon activities in the previous year. Output-based incentives can be awarded when certain milestones are achieved.
•    A program could tailor the level of performance-based payments based on the needs and socioeconomic conditions of different stakeholder groups. Some groups might need more input-based incentives.
•    Ranchers may not need cash incentives; access to credit is important to them. One possibility is to link interest rates to performance; if actors reforest, they can get increasingly lower interest rates.
•    There was an interest in engaging communities directly in monitoring, but questions of how to avoid a conflict of interest. One possibility is through geo-referenced photo monitoring.
•    Many programs can’t address the “bad actors” or illegal activities; these need to be addressed by national actions.
•    If you have a decision rule at the national level for how to distribute benefits based on avoided deforestation, you need to have a standard rate for all actors in the program. If you reward for reforestation, you can base rewards on actual measures of carbon stocks.

Day two opened with a keynote presentation by Dr. Eduardo Batllori Sampedro​, Secretary of Urban Development & Environment of Yucatan State. In his presentation Modelos de Gobernanza Local  para Implementar REDD+, Dr. Batllori presented a case study of the Yucatan Peninsula and how ecosystem service programs and a new fund could be leveraged to achieve REDD+ goals. 

Jill Blockhus, Senior Advisor at The Nature Conservancy facilitated the first session, Lessons from Implementation: FPIC, rights-based approaches and voluntary REDD standards. This session addressed the best international practices on FPIC, illustrated the governance, interpretation and assessment steps of the REDD+ Social and Environmental Standards, and included a case study of the Surui people's experience in creating a long term development plan that supports a successful REDD program.  They suggested tools to support an enabling environment for FPIC implementation, and methods to engage Indigenous Peoples and forest-dependent communities as full and effective participants in REDD+ program planning.

Presentations included:
1.    Free Prior and Informed Consent in the Current International Context. Kristen Hite, Law Professor at the University of Maryland and consultant for the Climate and Land Use Alliance. Through Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC), REDD+ initiatives can allay risks and concerns that REDD+ initiatives will cause conflict or harm to Indigenous People. UNREDD+ has provided guidance on how to implement FPIC. FPIS is an ongoing process that must begin in the planning phase; it is not a one-time event. Key insights:
•    It is important to document the process of FPIC;
•    Grievance mechanisms are very important; many issues are nuanced and require case-by-case consideration;
•    When REDD is implemented over a long time, rights can take a long time to sort out. Communities might provide conditional consent.
2.    REDD+ Social & Environmental Standards: Supporting countries to develop safeguards information systems in practice. Aurelie Lhumeau, Advisor for the REDD+ Social & Environmental Standards initiative (REDD+ SES)

3.    The Integrated Management Plan for the Sete de Setembro Indigenous Territory in Cacoal, State of Rondônia, Brazil (English translation). Gasoda Surui, Coordinator of Indigenous Culture Paiter Surui by Metareila Association.

Nikki Virgilio, Forest Carbon Specialist for The Nature Conservancy facilitated a session on Developing Social Objectives and Monitoring Social Impacts: Practical Experience and Navigating Tradeoff during which two experts with over 30 years of combined practical experience in social objective setting and monitoring shared their thoughts on what makes good social objectives and indicators, how to choose objectives and indicators based on unique contexts, how to design a monitoring plan to evaluate performance in achieving social benefits and what tradeoffs are involved in designing a monitoring plan.

1.    Social Objectives of REDD+. Supin Wongbusarakum, Senior Social Scientist at The Nature Conservancy

2.    Tools for measuring livelihoods and natural resource governance. David Wilkie, Director of Conservation Support at the Wildlife Conservation Society.

The remainder of the day was broken into a series of concurrent sessions:

Peter Ellis, Forest Ecologist with The Nature Conservancy, led a session on The Role of Communities in Monitoring the success of REDD+. Communities are often at the leading edge of implementing REDD+ strategies. This session looked at some case studies of communities that are directly engaged in monitoring the success of REDD+ strategies in Mexico, and then opened up a discussion to address the challenges of designing and implementing Community Based Monitoring (CBM) activities effectively in participants’ host countries. It included two presentations:
1.    Community-Based Forest Resource Monitoring in REDD+ Early Action Areas: Preliminary Reflections on the Pilot Participatory Monitoring Model in the Coastal Watersheds of Jalisco, Mexico. Noah Chutz, Peace Corps Volunteer with the Mexican National Forestry Commission
2.    Experiences of a Community Monitoring system for the preparation of REDD+ in The Yucatán Peninsula, Mexico. ​Sébastien Proust, Coordinator of MREDD+ in the Yucatan Peninsula. 
Aurelie Lhemeau led a session on Multi-Stakeholder Processes: Tools and Tips for Consultations and Decision-Making. This interactive session shared lessons learned from country multistakeholder consultations and decision-making processes to help REDD+ practioners to understand the key challenges of running multistakeholder processes and learn how they can be overcome in practice.​

Sébastien ProustCoordinator of MREDD+ in the Yucatan Peninsula, led a session on REDD+ Strategies in the Yucatan Peninsula. Greg Fishbein led a session on REDD+ Messaging.