Progress on land tenure, civil society strengthening and indigenous peoples rights, but limited progress on other REDD+ related topics

The Rainforest Foundation Norway aimed to ensure that national and multilateral REDD+ policies were ecologically sustainable and benefitting indigenous and other forest dependent peoples.


The Rainforest Foundation Norway

Due to the slow progress on REDD+ in the project’s focus countries, namely DR Congo, Indonesia and Ecuador, the achievement of the outcomes has been limited.

The outcomes for the project were the following


  1. Models for fair and equitable benefit sharing are included in REDD+ national policies (DRC, Indonesia and Ecuador) and addressed by multilateral REDD+ policies (UNREDD, WBs FCPF and others).
  2. REDD+ programs in DRC, Indonesia and Ecuador, and multilateral REDD+ funding, is based on coherent land use plans for forest areas, taking into account the drivers of deforestation as well as customary land claims and rights of forest peoples
  3. Cancun REDD+ safeguards are implemented in national REDD+ policies in DRC, Indonesia and Ecuador and supported by policies of multilateral agencies (UN REDD/WB).

Why did Norway decide to support this project?

Including indigenous peoples in decisions that affect their community, land, and culture is paramount, also within the REDD+ regime. The Rainforest Foundation Norway has strengthened and cooperated with indigenous peoples’ organisations in national and international negotiations on rainforest protection for many years. That is why Norway decided to support the Rainforest Foundation Norway for the grant period 2013-2015.


Norad finds that none of the outcomes have been fully achieved, primarily due to factors outside of the Rainforest Foundation’s control. Progress has been limited in government-led REDD+ in the three program countries Ecuador, DR Congo and Indonesia, and this has been a barrier for achieving this project’s outcome.

However, there has been progress on some of the outcome indicators, especially in Indonesia where significant advances for indigenous peoples’ rights have been achieved, and the state no longer can issue licenses for forest exploitation in indigenous territories.

Strengthening of civil society and indigenous peoples’ groups has been achieved in all target countries. During the program period, REDD+ policies in the UNFCCC as well as multilateral funding agencies have been significantly developed, although shortcomings regarding tenure and safeguards remain.

These advances constitute an important foundation for securing the participation of marginalized groups as REDD+ and other forest policies evolves in the target countries and globally.


In Indonesia, the Rainforest Foundation Norway and partners have achieved important results with respect to spatial planning and land tenure. In May 2013, the Constitutional Court confirmed indigenous peoples’ rights to traditional territories, after the indigenous peoples’ alliance AMAN had challenged the Forestry Law based on it granting ownership over most of the country’s forest to the state.

As a result of this ruling (MK35), the state can no longer issue licenses for forest exploitation on indigenous territories. The MK35 decision highlights the importance of mapping and titling indigenous territories, outputs pursued by all partners under this program.

The MK35 decision has yet to be properly implemented. With HuMa as a front-runner, RFN’s partners have worked to pilot the implementation of MK35 through local regulations. By the end of the program, a number of policies have been issued for the recognition and protection of indigenous territories

AMAN and other NGOs effectively advocated and succeeded in having President Jokowi include measures to ensure the respect of indigenous peoples in his political priority agenda, such as a review of all bills related to natural resources, tenure and indigenous peoples to ensure that these respect the MK35.

Furthermore, AMAN also succeeded in having indigenous territories included in the One Map Initiative. The objective of the One Map Initiative is to achieve a unified map of land use and concessions that can improve transparency and accountability in Indonesia's forestry sector.

The acceptance of indigenous territories in the One Map is a breakthrough as the government previously had no overview of indigenous territories and tended to see such communities as illegal squatters on state land.

At the provincial level, RFN’s partners were involved in the formulation of REDD+ strategies in Jambi, Central Kalimantan, West Sumatra, Central Sulawesi, and West Papua and Papua. While the strategies varied in terms of quality, the partners’ demands for participation and transparency were successful. In Central Kalimantan, the provincial government was forced to revise the Regional REDD+ Strategy after criticism by civil society.

The initial strategy was designed by few without proper public consultation. The revision process included broad consultations in seven districts, and input from local communities and civil society resulted in a new strategy of higher quality.

DR Congo

In the DR Congo, the program period has been characterized by a lack of funding for REDD+, and thus for fundamental reforms, especially on land use and land tenure, whose cross-cutting character are key to the implementation of the national REDD+ framework and the national REDD+ investment plan. RFN’s project mobilized substantial resources on capacity building and supporting civil society in their efforts to put in place the organizational structure needed to strengthen their participation in REDD+ policy and decision-making processes.


In Ecuador, a national REDD+ regime is not yet in place. However, the RFN reports on improved models for benefit sharing and strengthened land tenure, and that the target groups benefit from ecosystem services with their forests intact. The project has also lead to significantly increased capacity and knowledge among targeted indigenous peoples and civil society representatives.

Global policy

RFN and partners have engaged in extensive advocacy work at the global level in order to influence multilateral REDD+ policies. During the program period, REDD+ policies in the UNFCCC as well as multilateral funding agencies have been significantly developed. Despite some progress, however, most policies are still characterized by shortcomings regarding tenure and safeguards.

Please find the Rainforest Foundation Norway’s final results report to Norad in the PDF file <here/in the box to the right>.

Lessons learned

One of the key lessons the RFN takes from this project, is that REDD+ takes longer to establish and implement than expected in the project proposal. Drawing on this, the RFN believes that capacity building of civil society in REDD+ countries is more important for lasting results than anticipated.

It has been a key component of the program from the outset, but they see that a strong civil society with extensive knowledge and experience on REDD+ is key to achieving results beyond the program period.

A strong civil society with a combination of experience from the ground and ability to influence policy processes nationally and internationally is decisive in order to develop REDD+ policies that are ecologically sustainable and benefit indigenous and other forest-dependent peoples, even if this is not fully achieved by the end of the program period.



The result descriptions are based on the information provided by the organisations. Their presentations and conclusions do not necessarily reflect the views of Norad. Norad has not verified all results reported.

Published 22.10.2013
Last updated 26.06.2018