REDD+ is Dead, Long Live REDD+!: Disavowing Failures of the Carbon Fix

Authors: Robert Fletcher*, Wageningen University, Wolfram Dressler, University of Melbourne
Topics: Environment, Natural Resources, Cultural and Political Ecology
Keywords: REDD+, neoliberalism, forestry, conservation
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/10/2018
Start / End Time: 4:40 PM / 6:20 PM
Room: Endymion, Sheraton, 8th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Since its origins more than a decade ago, the REDD+ mechanism has consistently stalled in its envisioned rollout as a revitalized global market for trade in carbon sequestration. This has led some to label it the latest in a long line of conservation “fads” that have come and gone to the graveyard of failed interventions. Yet others argue that REDD+ can still be made it work, albeit in a different form that its original designs. Instructive in the respect has been the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), which has long positioned itself at the middle of REDD+ research and development. On the one hand, CIFOR has documented great difficulty in the implementation of REDD+ projects in many places, leading to internal debates and their Director General to pronounce the mechanism "disappeaed". At the same time, other CIFOR personnel have responded to similar diagnoses of REDD+ death by arguing that variations of the mechanism are still very much alive and well. To do so they contend that the mechanism is no longer the market it was originally intended but has become instead a form of results-based aid, which makes critiques highlighting a lack of REDD+ market irrelevant, as there is no longer an aim to produce this failed market anyway. Here, we analyze this ambiguous rhetoric as a form of “disavowal” in which REDD+ failure is simultaneously affirmed and denied, allowing the mechanism to survive in an “undead” form as a component of a zombie neoliberal project more generally.

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