The world’s forests are a critical solution to reduce and stabilize emissions and limit global warming to 1.5 degrees as needed to avoid catastrophic effects of climate change. Forest conservation and restoration can provide over one-third of the solution needed in the next two decades, representing a gigaton-scale mitigation opportunity.

In addition, protecting and restoring forests is essential to meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals. Keeping forests intact also secures the planet’s biodiversity and ecosystems and sustains livelihoods for millions of indigenous peoples and local communities that depend on the resources that forests provide.

REDD+ stands for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation. REDD+ programs foster conservation, sustainable management of forests and the enhancement of forest carbon stocks.

To date protection of forests using REDD+ has been accomplished either through bilateral donor-funded initiatives or by corporations investing in project-level REDD+ activities, and there has been no widely adopted system for crediting of REDD+ at the national level, which is what is needed to scale finance to reduce deforestation.

The Architecture for REDD+ Transactions (ART), is a global voluntary initiative to that seeks to reward countries for reduced emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, or REDD+. By enhancing transparency and credibility, ART aims to help unlock new, large-scale financing to facilitate sustainable land use and, in turn, protect forests.

ART will provide a rigorous standard and comprehensive process to transparently register, verify and issue REDD+ emissions reductions credits that embody the highest environmental and social integrity. Under ART, countries will generate verified emissions reduction credits by reducing their deforestation and degradation emissions below a specified crediting level and meeting other requirements detailed in the The REDD+ Environmental Excellency Standard (TREES).

Once issued, these serialized credits can be sold into voluntary or compliance markets, can be transferred under the Paris Agreement towards meeting NDCs and increasing ambition, or can be used as a donor pay-for-performance mechanism, providing financial incentives to the country to continue reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation.

Countries need to attract significant finance to fund the transition to sustainable land use without deforestation. And REDD+ funders need a credible and transparent way to ensure results.

The Warsaw Framework was developed under the UNFCCC to promote, recognize and reward reductions in emissions from deforestation and forest degradation; however, the framework itself was not designed to meet market requirements to secure large-scale financing for forests.

As a result, investments in REDD+ to date have largely been bilateral, or multilateral via the World Bank Carbon Fund and the Green Climate Fund. These structures have been invaluable to set the stage for REDD+, and establish significant norms and capacity. However, they were also not designed to meet market requirements to drive finance at scale.

Significant new sources of government and private-sector finance can be mobilized with more rigorous jurisdictional approaches to REDD+ that meet the highest technical, environmental and social standards and are aligned with Paris Agreement commitments. ART aims to provide confidence in the environmental integrity needed to unlock finance for REDD+ at national scale.

ART will provide a credible, independent program overseen by a Board and Secretariat including a rigorous Standard to quantify emissions reductions from REDD+ activities at a national scale and a comprehensive process to transparently register, verify and issue serialized credits that represent the highest environmental and social integrity and are fungible with emissions reductions units from other sectors.

There has been significant REDD+ implementation under other early action and pilot initiatives. ART will build on this work, aiming to promote greater ambition and to include more precise technical, verification, safeguard and registration requirements to create emissions reductions units that are fungible with those from other sectors.

ART’s governing Board and Secretariat will oversee the development and implementation of a Standard and comprehensive registration process to ensure emissions reductions of the highest environmental and social integrity. The ART will be consistent with UNFCCC decisions including the Paris Agreement, Warsaw Framework and the Cancun Safeguards, including social safeguards to recognize, respect, protect and fulfill the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities and to promote sustainable livelihoods.

ART will include requirements for enhanced ambition, independent third-party verification by an accredited organization, the issuance of serialized national scale REDD+ emissions reductions on a transparent registry system, and full verified implementation of the Cancun Safeguards.

ART is a voluntary framework that aims to create a path for forest countries and jurisdictions to have their REDD+ emission reductions assessed for high environmental and social integrity. The rigor and transparency of ART will be a global best-practice stamp of approval for REDD+, providing confidence to policy makers, donors and other market participants that will help channel new sources of large-scale finance to reward countries for reducing deforestation.

Participating countries will benefit from the access to a wide range of potential REDD+ investors and buyers that will have confidence in the integrity of emission reductions and safeguards achieved under ART. This includes countries that are interested in transfer of emissions reductions per the Paris Agreement to meet their NDCs or in providing conditional finance for REDD+ to help forest countries achieve their NDCs. It also includes buyers in hard to abate sectors, such as international aviation and maritime shipping, that have either voluntary or compliance carbon market commitments to reduce emissions.

ART will be focused on national-level REDD+ crediting, while allowing subnational participation during a transition period. For countries that have already participated in REDD+ programs, additional work will be needed to meet the requirements of TREES, but can build upon the work already accomplished.

All countries will have to submit documentation as required by ART detailing reference level determination, emissions reduction calculations, and deductions for uncertainty, leakage and buffer contributions. The submission will undergo an independent third-party verification and be approved by the ART Board in order to be issued ART emissions reductions.

ART REDD+ emissions reductions may be transferred between countries to meet Paris Agreement Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and raise ambition. ART REDD+ emissions reductions may also be purchased by companies, organizations or even individuals to voluntarily reduce emissions or could be approved for use by companies in regulated carbon markets. Companies in hard-to-abate sectors such as energy and transportation will be attracted to the integrity that ART will offer for REDD+ emissions reductions.

The Secretariat will oversee a public stakeholder consultation process for the TREES Standard from July 29 to September 27, 2019. All stakeholders will have an opportunity and are strongly encouraged to provide comments on the draft TREES Standard during the public comment period. Stakeholder comments will be reviewed by the Secretariat and the Board and incorporated as appropriate into the final version of the TREES Standard prior to approval by the ART Board and final publication in 2019.