Deforestation accounts for about 12% of greenhouse gas emissions, or gross emissions of 4.3 - 5.5 GtCO2e/year. In the tropics alone, 13 million hectares fall prey to deforestation every year. If this trend continues, the Eliasch Review estimates that the global cost of deforestation could reach USD $1 trillion a year by 2100. As part of REDD+ (Reduction of Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation), Switzerland is committed to actively searching for solutions to these problems in international climate change negotiations.

Deforestation in developing countries causes CO2 emission levels that are nearly as high as those emitted globally by the transport sector, including air transport. If the greenhouse gas emissions caused by deforestation are not reduced, the 2ₒC target set by the international community at the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference in 2009 to limit global warming will not be achieved.

Switzerland advocates REDD+ in developing countries for the following reasons:

  • Most emissions in developing countries are caused by changes in land use
  • Minimising deforestation is the most effective way for developing countries to
    reduce emissions (according to McKinsey (2009), developing countries have
    approximately 60% of the abatement potential in forests)
  • Without support, developing countries may not achieve their goals within a useful
    period of time

Financial support for developing countries

To deal with the deforestation problem, financial support must be provided to developing countries to help them conserve their forests. The efforts made along these lines are known in international climate change discussions as REDD+ (Reduction of Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries). The 2010 Climate Change Conference in Cancun set considerable targets for REDD+ and determined its basic concepts and principles.

In Warsaw COP19 in 2013, seven decisions on REDD+ were adopted and named the Warsaw REDD+ Framework (WRF). This broad agreement paves the way that under a future accord developing countries may receive climate recognition and incentives for reducing their emissions from forests through conservation and management actions. For developed countries, who have since 2010 pledged and invested close to USD 7 billion in REDD+ (REDD+ Database 2014), REDD+ is potentially a mechanism through which their emissions can be compensated under a future climate regime.

Significance of the Paris Agreement for forests and REDD+

At COP 21 in December 2015 in Paris, the importance of forests and REDD+ was anchored in the agreement and climate regime that comes into force after 2020. Additionally, 3 further decisions specific to REDD+ were made. The United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) estimates the reduction potential of REDD+ to be up to 9 gigatons of CO2 per year (Gap Report 2015). Laurent Fabuis, president of COP21, described the prominent role that forests will play in protecting the climate as follows: «in the long term, no more greenhouse gases such as CO2 should be emitted that those which can be absorbed in forests».

In recent years significant resources have been made available to support developing countries set up the essential prerequisites for making the REDD+ work for them (REDD+ readiness). Switzerland has also contributed, both through the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility of the World Bank (State Secretariat for Economic Affairs SECO) with so far over CHF 20 million, and through bi-lateral projects (Swiss Development Cooperation SDC). In Paris the international community pledged another $5 billion for REDD+ for the period 2016-2020.

Activities of Switzerland's federal administration

Switzerland's federal administration participates in developing REDD+ on various levels:

UN climate convention negotiations

  • Switzerland advocates its positions in UN climate convention discussions. The FOEN, SECO and SADC work closely together on this.
  • Switzerland attaches particular importance to the aspects of sustainable forest management and inclusive forest governance (e.g. clear user and property rights).
  • To that end, Switzerland advocates participatory, village-based forest management in developing countries based on its own positive experiences: indigenous peoples, such as local populations, should participate directly in REDD+, and their rights should continue to be protected and explained to them.
  • Switzerland is also active in promoting biodiversity conservation in REDD+ activities. For example, this includes preventing near-natural forests from being turned into tree plantations for palm oil or other products.
  • Switzerland's involvement in social and ecological causes is also aimed at ensuring that greater investment in REDD+ will ultimately lead to stainable success.

FOEN special initiatives in support of policy implementation: land sector, forests, tropical forests, REDD+, biodiversity, forest finance

Year Initiative Outputs
2011 Amazon Indigenous REDD+ Summit and markets exploration Aktionsplan for forests and REDD+ of indigenous peoples of the Amazon, signed  22.8.2011
2011 Towards a governance framework for REDD+ financing UNFCCC Side Event, Durban December 2011
Policy Brief 
2012 Best practices for governance and biodiversity safeguards Side Event CBD, Hyderabad, Indien, Oktober 2012
Policy Brief
2013 Options and Elements for an Accounting  Framework for the Land Sector in the Post-2020 Climate Regime Presentation at 3 land sector informal dialogues in Finland, Mexico, and Brazil
Policy brief
2014 The Land Sector in the UNFCCC Climate Negotiations: Training Programme for UNFCCC Negotiators 3 day workshop and informal dialogue in  Sao Paolo, Brazil
2014 Pilot monitoring and mapping tool and study on cross-border conflict Hands-on training in Pyeongchang South Korea, Oktober 2014
Pilot tool and literature review
Regional forest monitoring collaboration for West Africa RFMWA Action Plan and Side Event COP22 Nov. 2016, and CBD COP13 2016
RFMWA Action Plan
Facilitating the integration of the forest monitoring concept into the MRV capacity-building program of UN-REDD in West Africa

Report and Side Event für Nov. 2017

Document being developed

2017 Supporting development of national forest finance strategies

Side Events UNFF13 und UNFCCC Bonn COP23

2018 Forest Resilience Finance Side Event und Studie UNFCCC COP24 Katowice

Further information

Last modification 28.03.2019

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