The extent to which REDD+ initiatives should be a mechanism to address poverty and provide other co-benefits apart from carbon storage, is hotly debated. Here, we examine the benefit distribution policy and practice of a prominent REDD+ project in Kenya with the aim of understanding the extent to which it addresses equity. We reveal that while the project design was attentive to equity concerns in distributing benefits amongst the project implementer, landowners and the wider population of small-scale farmers and pastoralists in the area, in practice, the initial flow of benefits were concentrated in the hands of a few. This was because developments in land tenure since pre-colonial times had involved processes of dispossession and elite capture, enabled by colonial and post-colonial land policies that left the majority of local people with little or no land entitlement. As the distributive policy of the project maps onto the existing unequal land distribution, it reinforces inequality. By illustrating how current, well-intended, REDD+ efforts inadvertently come to entrench a long process of dispossession of marginalized people, we call attention to the pivotal importance that historical context plays in discussions of equity and social safeguards related to implementing REDD+ initiatives and related policy.
Authors and Publishers
Lund, Jens Friis
Land Use Policy is an international and interdisciplinary journal concerned with the social, economic, political, legal, physical and planning aspects of urban and rural land use. It provides a forum for the exchange of ideas and information from the diverse range of disciplines and interest groups which must be combined to formulate effective land use policies.
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