Implementing REDD+ in the context of integrated conservation and development projects: leveraging empirical lessons
There are diverse lessons that subnational projects designed to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) should learn from integrated conservation and development projects (ICDPs) working in developing country settings. This paper develops and applies a lesson learning framework to identify and analyse lessons that the Kasigau REDD+ project learns from a governmental ICDP (national park) and a nongovernmental ICDP (World Vision) that have been implemented in Taita-Taveta county, Kenya. Fieldwork and document reviews revealed 24 lessons drawn from both positive and negative ICDP experiences. At the design level, the REDD+ project maintained the commonly critiqued top-down intervening approach as used by the ICDPs, by excluding community input into its globally-linked design. At the implementation level, the REDD+ project promoted better community representation in project decisions and benefit sharing when compared to the ICDPs. A landscape approach, democratic institutional choices and pro-poor benefit sharing were the key interventions that enabled the REDD+ project to improve on the ICDP experiences. The usefulness of the ICDP experiences was however weakened by a lack of lesson sharing between projects. The REDD+ project relied mainly on the local community to communicate their ICDP experiences, but this led to partial implementation deficits because it promoted local participation interests over global mitigation goals. Further, community-driven lesson learning appeared to disconnect the project from State institutions. The community had negative perceptions of State involvement but at the same time the State is the legal custodian of most assets (such as land) required for REDD+ implementation. ICDP lessons are therefore necessary for effective REDD+ implementation but can only be useful if the process of adopting lessons is cognisant of relevant stakeholders such as the State.
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