Ensuring the engagement of indigenous peoples and forest dependent communities remains a crucial component of successful and sustainable REDD+ approach for the UN-REDD Programme, as it continues to support countries’ REDD+ readiness and implementation actions. As part of this commitment, the Programme works to ensure that national-level REDD+ processes are informed by the perspectives of indigenous and civil society stakeholders.

One mechanism in uses to facilitate this is the Community-Based REDD+ (CBR+) initiative, launched by the Programme in 2014. CBR+ was established to empower indigenous peoples and local communities to engage fully in the design, implementation and monitoring of REDD+ readiness activities, and to develop experiences, lessons and recommendations at the local level that can feed into national REDD+ processes. CBR+ is now operational in all six pilot countries (e.g. Cambodia, Sri Lanka, DR Congo, Nigeria, Panama, Paraguay) and is disbursing grants of up to US$ 50,000 to stakeholders at the local level.

Participants at a Capacity Building Workshop for CBR Grantees Sri Lanka October 2015Early experience shows that CBR+ is an engaging and empowering initiative, with indigenous peoples and local communities playing a key role in the development of CBR+ Country Plans and in the design and selection of CBR+ projects. Local-level stakeholders have engaged in extensive consultations to identify their priorities and needs for CBR+ grant-making, and have collaborated with government partners to link local priorities to national REDD+ approaches through the CBR+ Country Plans, which are now guiding the disbursement of CBR+ grants in a way that ensures complementarity with national REDD+ priorities and approaches.

“By linking local-level projects to national REDD+ processes, CBR+ has helped to bring a global perspective to local project design, ensuring that results at the community level are connected to national and global priorities around climate change and forests,” said Beatriz Schmitt, the Small Grants Programme National Coordinator in Panama.

When properly empowered and enabled, indigenous peoples and local communities can lead the kind of scaling of innovation that creates landscape-level change and transforms economies. The first analysis of CBR+ grants, which have been disbursed to date in Cambodia, Sri Lanka, DR Congo and Panama, reveals a wide variety of activities that will provide valuable lessons and perspectives to inform national REDD+ policy, while strengthening the inclusion of forest communities and indigenous peoples, including women and youth.

CBR+ projects are contributing to the advancement of REDD+ by improving communities’ organizational capacity and information to engage in REDD+; facilitating dialogues and exchanges of experience between governments and local stakeholders; providing communities with access to legal or technical advice to better protect their forests; supporting improved land-use management and alternative livelihoods to reduce drivers of deforestation; facilitating community participation in forest monitoring; and helping forest communities deploy traditional knowledge and practices to forest management.

In Cambodia, one of 13 CBR+ grants disbursed to date in the country is empowering community members, 70 per cent of whom are indigenous people, to sustainably manage over 4,000 hectares of forest in the community-protected areas of Chaom Pen and Damnak Changhann. This initiative is now supporting local livelihoods and preparing the community for REDD+ implementation in the future.

Meanwhile, one of eight CBR+ projects in Sri Lanka is supporting the development of a community-led forest monitoring project that includes the establishment of an SMS, email and phone-based forest crime monitoring and reporting mechanism to allow communities members to report forest crime.

“Community-based REDD+ provides an opportunity to identify community members from all over the country, who are capable of inspiring their own communities to understand and act against drivers of climate change,” emphasized Nimanthi, a CBR+ grantee in Sri Lanka.


CBR Grantees in Sri Lank at a Capacity Building Workshop October 2015

 CBR+ Grantees in Sri Lanka at Capacity Building Workshop, October 2015



In Panama, one on eight CBR+ projects funded to date in the country is promoting the recovery of native seeds and plants and training 30 young indigenous people from ten forest communities of Guna Yala. They are being trained in the indigenous “nainu” method of sustainable agroforestry, which helps to conserve biodiversity and promote sustainable soil management.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where six grants have been disbursed, CBR+ has supported an indigenous organization to convene a dialogue between indigenous peoples and government representatives. The goal is to ensure that the priorities and needs of indigenous peoples around climate change and REDD+ are embedded in DRC’s negotiating priorities for the UNFCCC Global Climate Conference taking place in Paris in December 2015.

Over US$ 1.2 million of CBR+ grants have been awarded to date in Cambodia, Sri Lanka, DRC and Panama. Grants will be disbursed in Nigeria by the end of 2015, and in Paraguay in early 2016.

“Through our work with community-based REDD+ in Nigeria, we are seeing the value of this initiative as a means of managing community expectations, and to inform national policy with grassroots perspectives and experiences,” said Salisu Dahiru, Director of Forestry and National Coordinator REDD+ with Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Environment, Nigeria.

CBR  Project Review Meeting Nigeria September 2015

CBR+ Project Review Meeting in Nigeria, September 2015


CBR+ is co-financed by the UN-REDD Programme and the GEF Small Grants Programme (SGP), with grants delivered through the SGP grant-delivery mechanism. CBR+ Country Plans have been developed in each pilot country to ensure that CBR+ projects align with national REDD+ processes. Additionally, existing SGP National Steering Committees in the six pilot countries have been supplemented with REDD+ experts from government, indigenous peoples and civil society bodies, to form CBR+ National Steering Committees, which provide overall guidance to CBR+ at the country level and select CBR+ project proposals for funding.