Five years ago, governors from provinces and states around the world took a bold and innovative step into the world of climate governance, establishing the GCF, a subnational, cross-jurisdictional effort to protect tropical forests, reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, and promote realistic pathways to forest-maintaining rural development. Today, the GCF has emerged as a key focal point for global efforts to bring REDD+ into ongoing subnational, national, and international climate policy.

At the inception of the GCF, international talks on climate change proceeded slowly in a highly politicized and polarized environment, impeding REDD+ progress. The formation of the GCF challenged the notion that reduction of tropical deforestation could only be managed from the national level of governance, where negotiations have focused. Today, the GCF states and provinces operate in a global network of technical, legal and design support. By developing this “connective tissue” for both horizontal jurisdiction-to-jurisdiction exchange, and vertical alignment between subnational jurisdictions and national climate and forests agendas in GCF member governments, the GCF has successfully ended the isolation of fledgling REDD+ programs. The GCF is:

  • integrating jurisdictional REDD+ into broader low-emissions rural development goals;
  • linking REDD+ with important forest conservation efforts, including commodity roundtables;
  • supporting, preserving and improving the livelihoods of forest-dependent communities; and
  • deepening the ability of subnational efforts to inform—and align with—national processes around REDD+.

In the absence of international consensus on climate change and the resulting fragmentation of policies, legal frameworks, standards and goals, the GCF occupies a crucial space and embodies what REDD+ can achieve for our planet even in the absence of a new Kyoto-type international climate regime.

GCF member states and provinces are early movers representing an important component of the broader effort to demonstrate how REDD+ can work in practice. The effectiveness of state and provincial-level efforts is apparent in the adoption of innovative REDD+ programs and activities across GCF jurisdictions and in the ongoing GCF elaboration of REDD+ architectures with stakeholders and partners from all over the world. The GCF has quickly become a beacon in the development of subnational REDD+, demonstrating how this bottom-up model reduces emissions from deforestation and land degradation at the level at which they occur—the state, provincial, and local level.