BHARRAT JAGDEO: How can we create markets that protect rain forests for the long term?

BHARRAT JAGDEO, former president of Guyana

Forests are in danger because they are worth more dead than alive. Markets exist for food, minerals and timber, while no markets exist for the vital ecosystem services that forests provide, such as carbon sequestration, water regulation or biodiversity. To reconfigure this reality, we need market mechanisms that value carbon and other ecosystem services more than the current drivers of deforestation.

In the long run, the best way to do this will be to incorporate markets for REDD+ within a legally binding global climate agreement. But before then, we can do two things. One, we can create proxies for markets by using public funds to pay a floor price for forest carbon. This is what Guyana and Norway are doing through the world’s second largest Interim REDD+ deal, in which Norway is paying Guyana US$5 per tonne for forest-based mitigation.

This idea could be rolled out globally within existing finance commitments from the industrialized world. Second, we can create “sectoral” markets—focused on whole sectors of the economy—for REDD+ by integrating forest-based mitigation in the three major forest basins with existing or proposed carbon trading platforms in places like Europe, California or Australia.

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Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) is an effort to create a financial value for the carbon stored in forests, offering incentives for developing countries to reduce emissions from forested lands and invest in low-carbon paths to sustainable development. “REDD+” goes beyond deforestation and forest degradation, and includes the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks. Learn more at