|dc.description.abstract||The name of Guatemala derives from the náhuatl “Quahtlemallan”, which means “land of trees”. However, since 1950 total deforestation has ranged from 60,000 to 70,000 ha/year, with an accumulated loss of 2,958,826 hectares (ha) of forest. Deforestation is not unique to Guatemala, and many national and international efforts have been proposed to address this environmental problem. One of them is the international scheme to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+).
REDD+, is considered as a global payment for ecosystem services scheme in which high income countries will pay low and low-middle income countries to keep their forest standing for the ecosystem service of carbon storage. Its founders hoped that REDD+ could deliver emission reductions as well as social and environmental benefits in these low and low-middle income countries, known as the “win-win-win” of the scheme. REDD+ promises a dream as stated on theory; but there are more challenges on the ground than dreamt of in REDD+ PES literature. If Guatemalan conditions on the ground do not align with REDD+’s theory, it could well turn into a nightmare. This raises three questions: (i) Is Guatemala ready to implement REDD+ successfully in order to achieve positive outcomes? (ii) If not, what will make Guatemala or any other non-annex I countries ready? And, more broadly; (iii) does REDD+ have the potential to deliver emission reductions, social benefits and environmental conservation in the context of countries like Guatemala?
Through the development of this research, I analysed the decisions made of the Conference of the Parties of the Kyoto Protocol, since REDD+ was initially proposed (2008), until the end of the first commitment period of Kyoto Protocol (2012) and the following Conference of the Parties in Warsaw (2013) in order to analyse how it had evolved. This information provided of key issues that I then identified and analysed in Latin America case studies which included 6 international REDD+ and PES scheme projects and 4 REDD+ pilot projects of Guatemala. From here I distilled assumptions of how it should be REDD+ implemented, considering PES theory and what are the necessary conditions for the achievement of the expected outcomes. This information helped to elaborate research questions that were then asked in semi-structured interviews. Because REDD+ was recently new, not many people had much information about the topic. However, I identified actors from different sectors like: (i) academia; (ii) forest communities; (iii) government; (iv) Non-government organizations; (v) International non-government organizations (INGOs) and (vi) private sector.
The Guatemalan and Latin American case studies showed varied success. In the more successful cases, projects were promoted by an independent entity or forest-dependent communities were the ones designing and implementing the scheme in a voluntarily manner. These cases achieved ‘win-win-win’ outcomes. In the less successful, initiatives were imposed by project developers and the outcome was rejection of the project.
Guatemala is not ready for REDD+ yet because it is using the governance as usual method, in which the Guatemalan government has the only, and final, word in decision making for processes and projects at the national level. Indeed, this approach has not just been weak at national level but also when dealing with negotiations and commitments at international level. With this approach REDD+ will be a nightmare as it is unlikely to achieve ‘win-win-win’ outcomes. To be ready, Guatemala needs to follow a ‘governance without government’ structure for REDD+, which is my empirical contribution to governance and payment for ecosystem services’ theory. Building on this I offer practical recommendations for REDD+ itself. The most important is the development of the Social and Environmental Agency. Once this agency is developed it will contribute to getting Guatemala ready for REDD+; therefore REDD+ will be a dream. The participation of the agency at international levels will attract buyers and, with that, the REDD+ market will begin and that will contribute to the achievement of the social and environmental benefits. Indeed, this REDD+ market will contribute to the process of recovering the forest cover that Guatemala has lost, and once recovered Guatemala will be once again called the Land of Trees.||en