Guidelines for REDD+ Reference Levels: Principles and Recommendations

This report on guidelines for the preparation of REDD+ Reference Levels aims at informing the preparation of RLs by developing-country Parties to the UNFCCC. The assessment was conducted in a similar fashion to the REDD-OAR and REDD+ IOA, that is, through systematic analysis and assessment completed by a diverse and independent group of experts and a facilitated dialogue among UNFCCC negotiators, experts, and other stakeholders.

The Government of Norway commissioned the Meridian Institute to facilitate the assessment of a set of proposed options for critical elements of the REDD+ components of a Copenhagen United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) agreement. In December 2008, this assessment led to a consultative and analytical process whose results were summarized in the REDD Options Assessment Report (REDD-OAR) released in April 2009. In July 2009, the Meridian Institute conducted a follow-up assessment in the REDD+ Institutional Options Assessment (REDD+-IOA). Leading to the present report, the Meridian Institute conducted an assessment of technical and procedural issues for modalities for REDD+ Reference Levels (REDD+-RLs) in June 2011. (These reports can be found at These reports were well received and proved helpful to UNFCCC negotiators and other stakeholders.

Looking toward the Conference of the Parties (COP)-17 in Durban, South Africa in December 2011, the Government of Norway commissioned the Meridian Institute to undertake a similar process on the development of modalities for REDD+ reference levels to help support and inform UNFCCC Parties and other stakeholders. Specifically, the Subsidiary Body on Scientific and Technical Advice (SBSTA) has been mandated to develop modalities relating to forest reference emission levels and forest reference levels for consideration at COP-17. Reference levels (RLs) are an essential component of an international REDD+ incentive framework. RLs establish business-as-usual baselines against which actual emissions are measured, whereby emission reductions are estimated as the difference between RLs and actual emissions. RLs thus provide the basis for measuring REDD+ success.

The Meridian Institute, a nonprofit nongovernmental organization internationally recognized for convening and facilitating neutral and independent dialogues and assessments, in our view, was the ideal facilitator of this process. We are hopeful that the process facilitated by Meridian Institute on Guidelines for the Preparation of REDD+ Reference Levels: Principles and Recommendations can contribute to this important dialogue.