United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Decisions for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries (REDD+) recognize its role in poverty alleviation, enhancing social and environmental resilience and ensuring linkages between mitigation and adaptation. Similarly, the UNFCCC recognizes the diversity of potential environmental and social risks and benefits that could result from REDD+ implementation. As a result, the UNFCCC adopted a set of social, environmental and governance safeguards, commonly known as “Cancun Safeguards.” Cancun Safeguards should be addressed and respected throughout REDD+ implementation regardless of the source and type of funding and play a key role in accessing results-based finance. The UNFCCC provides guidance regarding an information system as well as up-to-date reports as information and reporting tools on how all Cancun Safeguards have been addressed and respected. However, the UNFCCC does not offer any guidance on how to consider, assess and/or verify reported information. Given the key role that the Green Climate Fund (GCF) plays in channeling REDD+ results-based finance, this research paper examines early lessons from the GCF’s pilot programme for REDD-plus results-based payments (RBPs). It assesses the extent to which REDD+ activities have been implemented in consistency with the Cancun Safeguards. This paper examines the assessment and verification procedures of the GCF’s pilot programme. Key informant interviews have been a key source of information. We conclude that assessing the extent to which REDD+ results-based activities have in fact been consistent with Cancun Safeguards is a complex endeavor. Such complexity requires a qualitative approach as well as a dedicated verification procedure. This in turn has not been fully captured in the GCF’s pilot programme. Additionally, we conclude that by requiring countries to demonstrate conformance with its interim safeguards in the context of REDD+ results-based finance, the GCF’s pilot programme poses a significant burden to countries’ abilities to access results-based financing.
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