REDD+ is a programme initiated by the UNFCCC to reduce carbon emissions from deforestation and forest degradation. The present study was undertaken to assess the MRV capacity and readiness in 20 sampled REDD+ projects in Brazil, Peru, Cameroon, Tanzania, Indonesia and Vietnam.

We collected data through questionnaire surveys, field visits and regional workshops, and segregated them into three categories of MRV "readiness" – remote sensing and GIS; ground-based carbon pool inventory; and baseline, intervention and monitoring. The overall readiness was calculated as the sum of these three categories.

We found that the remote sensing and GIS capacity and readiness was high or very high at 11 project sites, while the carbon pool inventory was high or very high in eight projects. However, none of the projects showed a very high capacity in baseline, intervention and monitoring readiness. Overall, 11 projects – 55% of the sample – showed high or very high capacity, while the rest showed medium to low. Region-wise, projects in Brazil and Peru showed high readiness, while projects in Cameroon, Tanzania, Indonesia and Vietnam showed low readiness.

Although the MRV capacity of half the projects is high, there are capacity deficiencies in other projects that are a source of concern. The critical issues cannot be ascribed only to limitations in technology or expertise, but could also be attributed to a number of issues such as spatial data infrastructure, restricted data access, unclear methodological guidelines, the slow pace of international climate treaty negotiations, and uncertainty in the development of the forest carbon market. Substantial investment is required to make REDD+ operational at the project scale, and more challenges will no doubt be likely for monitoring, reporting and verification at larger scales.

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