REDD+ and the Sustainable Development Goals: the case of the Democratic Republic of Congo

Forest reserve of Kalikuku, Territory of de Lubero Nord-Kivu. Photo: World Agroforestry/ Emilie Smith Dumont

The rainforest nation is taking steps to improve links between the two mechanisms.

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is the world’s second-largest rainforest nation, with about 150 million hectares of forests, equivalent to almost 70% of the country’s land area and representing 10% of the world’s total tropical forest area.

In an effort to protect its forests, DRC has been involved with the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+) programme since 2009. The country adopted its National REDD+ Framework Strategy in 2012 and REDD+ Investment Plan in 2013. In 2016, DRC signed a Letter of Intent with the Central African Forest Initiative for financing the Investment Plan, based on the achievement of policy milestones. These were all aimed at addressing the country’s drivers of deforestation.

Also in 2016, DRC was one of eight pilot countries that received funding under a United Nations Development Programme initiative to mainstream the 17 Sustainable Development Goals  (SDGs), underpinned by 169 targets that are intended to achieve the ambitious agenda of addressing social, environmental and economic dimensions of sustainability in an integrated manner. DRC produced a national report in which it prioritized its SDG targets, picking 38 (apart from the 43 targets related to implementation and the 19 targets related to partnerships) out of a total of 169. This process was led by experts from the Congolese Observatory for Sustainable Development under the Ministry of Planning and Revolution for Modernity.

During a seminar, REDD+ and the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals: Linkages and Lessons Learnt in the Democratic Republic of Congo, hosted by the World Agroforestry (ICRAF) and presented by Florence Bernard of ICRAF’s Landscapes Governance research unit, it was noted that there are significant, potentially mutually supportive, links between REDD+ and the SDGs, providing a timely and critical opportunity to review policy frameworks to gain a better understanding of how implementation strategies can be aligned.

How can REDD+ contribute to the achievement of the SDGs in the Democratic Republic of Congo?

Bernard noted that REDD+ activities in DRC could contribute to 15 out of the 17 SDGs and to 21 out of the 38 prioritized targets. Highlighting the fact that Climate Action (SDG 13) and Life on Land (SDG 15) are the main SDGs that can be supported by REDD+, she added that REDD+ actions in the country were also closely related to No Poverty (SDG 1), Quality Education (SDG 4), Affordable and Clean Energy (SDG 7) and Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions (SDG 16).

“All programmes and projects emerging under the country’s REDD+ Strategy and Investment Plan aim to support people’s livelihoods and help the transition to a green economy, with the ultimate goal of alleviating poverty,” said Bernard in relation to SDG 1. “Poverty rates can be reduced through REDD+ investment in the development of sustainable agricultural and forest-based value chains and support for income-generating activities, access to highly energy-efficient and improved low-cost cooking stoves and support of family planning and women’s education.”

Following the analysis, a number of barriers to linking REDD+ and the SDGs were highlighted. The first was the limited involvement of REDD+ national experts and/or focal points during the SDGs national prioritization and contextualization exercise. In addition, there was weak coordination between REDD+ and the SDGs frameworks. So far they had been treated as separate issues without much synergy.

Other hindrances included weak sharing of information about monitoring of results and progress, use of a ‘top–down’ approach across governance levels and political instability in the country. The change of government and ministers as well as elections not being held and insecurity in some areas of the country remained a hindrance to all programmes, including REDD+ and SDGs.

Discussing the key policy recommendations, Bernard highlighted the importance of initiating cross-sectoral coordination between REDD+ and the SDGs at the highest level of political leadership, for example, Parliament and the Prime Minister’s office. There was also need for better multi-stakeholder processes in order to reach strong consensus and further enhance accountability.

She also proposed that technical and financial resources be mobilized and directed to the development of a Sustainable Development Strategy that would provide a clear and common vision. It was also important to explore how the REDD+ national forest monitoring system and SDGs monitoring of results and progress can complement each other. She also stated that effective decentralization of REDD+ and SDGs implementation at provincial level had to be supported.

“We hope this assessment can benefit other national governments and policy implementers to build greater coherence and mutual support between SDG and REDD+ frameworks,” she concluded.


Related policy brief

ICRAF Policy Brief no 41 (English): REDD+ and the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals: Linkages and Lessons Learnt in the Democratic Republic of Congo

ICRAF Policy Brief no 42 (French): REDD+ et les Objectifs de Développement Durable à l’Horizon 2030: Liens et Enseignements Tirés en République Démocratique du Congo







World Agroforestry (ICRAF) is a centre of scientific excellence that harnesses the benefits of trees for people and the environment. Knowledge produced by ICRAF enables governments, development agencies and farmers to utilize the power of trees to make farming and livelihoods more environmentally, socially and economically sustainable at multiple scales. ICRAF is one of the 15 members of the CGIAR, a global research partnership for a food-secure future. We thank all donors who support research in development through their contributions to the CGIAR Fund.

Betty Rabar

Betty Rabar is a former Publications Officer with the World Agroforestry (ICRAF). She coordinated all aspects of publications from concept through to editing, proofreading, printing and dissemination. She holds a Masters’ Degree in Knowledge and Information Management from the London Metropolitan University, UK and has worked as a communication and publishing professional in a number of international non-governmental organizations.

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