Uncertainty and Opportunity: The Status of Forest Carbon Rights and Governance Frameworks in Over Half of the World’s Tropical Forests

Author: Alexandre Corriveau-Bourque, Fernanda Almeida & Alain Frechette

Date: March 14, 2018

Most of the world’s remaining tropical forests lie in areas that are customarily managed and/or legally owned by Indigenous Peoples and local communities. In the context of climate change and global efforts to protect and enhance the capacity of forests to capture and store greenhouse gas emissions, the question of who owns the trees and the carbon stored therein is paramount. Clarifying this question is crucial, both for the future of the planet, and for up to 1.7 billion people worldwide who rely on forests for their livelihoods.

This brief presents a review of the nominal progress made in the national-level laws and regulations that govern the carbon trade and define the rights of parties —across a sample of 24 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. These countries collectively hold more than 50 percent of global tropical and subtropical forests. This brief also examines the design and establishment of safeguard  mechanisms concerning benefit sharing, providing redress and resolution to disputes related to carbon-based schemes, and the operationalization of carbon registries for each of these countries.

  • Key Findings
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Key Findings

  • 79 percent of countries (19/24) still do not have a national legal framework establishing and regulating carbon markets; Brazil, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Peru, and Vietnam have established such frameworks.
  • Only four countries (Brazil, Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Peru) have explicitly defined carbon rights in national laws.
  • 17 countries were considering draft laws and/or regulations to clarify carbon rights at the time of writing.
  • Only three countries (Chile, Costa Rica, and Mexico) have designed both benefit-sharing mechanisms and feedback and grievance mechanisms (FGRMs), which are essential elements of functional REDD+projects and programs. No countries have operationalized their approach to benefit-sharing, and only two have implemented their FGRMs.

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