United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change was created in 1992 out of the concern expressed by the scientific community. This Convention establishes a general framework for those intergovernmental efforts aimed at tackling the challenge of climate change.

Importantly, the Convention recognizes that the climate system is a shared resource whose stability can be affected by industrial and other emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. 

The ultimate objective of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is to prevent "dangerous" anthropogenic interference of the climate system.

In the practice, the objective of the Convention is to stabilize greenhouse gases concentrations “at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference within the climate system." It also states that "such a level should be achieved within a timeframe sufficient to allow ecosystems to adapt naturally to climate change, to ensure that food production is not threatened and to enable economic development to proceed in a sustainable manner."

Under the Convention, Governments commit themselves to:

  • Collect and communicate information on greenhouse gases concentrations, national policies and optimal practices;
  • Formulate and implement national strategies to address the issue of emissions of greenhouse gases and to adapt to adverse effects, including the provision of financial and technological resources needed by the developing country Parties.
  • Support to facilitate adequate adaptation to climate change effects.

Costa Rica is a signatory of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, which was ratified by the national Law No. 7414, issued on June 13, 1994.

Further information on the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change can be accessed here

Deforestation and emissions of greenhouse gases

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO, 2011), the highest rates of deforestation during the decade of the 90s occurred in forests of tropical countries, surpassing the 10 million hectares per year. The corresponding emissions, from deforestation and partial removal of forests, are estimated to have reached 15-35% of total global emissions (Houghton, 2005).

Since 2005 these forests are becoming a focus of world attention. That year, the Coalition of Rainforest Nations, led by Costa Rica and Papua New Guinea, submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) a formal proposal to reduce GHG emissions from deforestation.

In September 2006, the Brazilian government presented its own proposal for "avoided deforestation" in a workshop of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) of the UNFCCC. This country presented again its proposal in November 2006 during the COP 12 of the UNFCCC. In turn, the Stern Report of the British government, published in early 2007, suggests that avoided deforestation measures should be included in the second commitment period (after 2012) under the Kyoto Protocol (Stern, 2007).

At the Conference of the Parties held in Bali, Indonesia, in December 2007, it was reported that regarding the "Reduction of Emissions from Deforestation" (REDD) there is an urgent need to take further meaningful action to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation. Also, it was reported that they should be advances on the methodological work, which will be focused mainly on:

  • assessments of changes in forest cover and in associated emissions of greenhouse gases,
  • methods to demonstrate reductions in emissions from deforestation,
  • calculations of the volume of emission reductions from deforestation.

REDD and the Convention

REDD is an international strategy created within the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. REDD constitutes a mechanism to encourage developing countries to better protect, manage and use forest resources to contribute to the global fight against climate change.

Through REDD strategies, it is sought that standing forests have a higher value than the one they could have if were cut, because it creates a financial value on carbon stored in trees. Once the carbon is measured and quantified, the final stage of REDD will include compensation payments from developed to developing countries for their standing forests.

REDD also seeks to generate forestry initiatives towards forest sustainable management so their valuable assets and economic, environmental and social services can benefit countries, communities, and biodiversity and forest users while contributing to the important activity of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

REDD´s objetive is:

  • reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries with tropical forests, support the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks.

The general objectives of REDD are:

  • contribute to the reduction of global carbon emissions from deforestation by improving forest governance at the national level, and

  • provide financial incentives to stop or reverse the loss of forests.

Decisions of the Convention on REDD

REDD+ originated from a proposal by Papua New Guinea and Costa Rica for a mechanism to reduce emissions from deforestation in developing countries, presented at the Eleventh Conference of the Parties (COP 11) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Montreal, Canada. The proposal offered an opportunity to reduce global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions while providing incentives to protect and conserve tropical forests. The Bali Action Plan recognized the proposal as a climate mitigation option, establishing the basis for negotiations on REDD +. This decision has been followed by further decisions in Cancun, Durban and Doha. (From A Guide to Understanding and Implementing the UNFCCC REDD+ Safeguards, 01/15/2014)

Some important decisions of the Convention with respect to REDD are summarized below:


The Government of Papua New Guinea, requested the Secretariat to add an item entitled “Reducing emissions from deforestation in developing countries: approaches to stimulate action” to the provisional agenda of the Conference of the Parties (COP11) at its eleventh session. The document contains a submission from the Governments of Papua New Guinea and Costa Rica.

Decisión 2/CP.13

Acknowledges the contribution of the emissions from deforestation and forest degradation to global anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. The decision invites Parties to further strengthen and support ongoing efforts to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation; to support capacity-building, provide technical assistance, and facilitate the transfer of technology, on a voluntary basis; and to mobilize resources to support these efforts

Decisión 4/CP.15.

Provides guidance to Parties that are developing countries for the implementation of activities relating Decision 2/CP.13.

Decisión 1/CP.16, párrafos 68 a 79.

Provides a framework for the Parties engaged in activities related to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, conservation of forest carbon stocks, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks. This decision also launched a process for future work to be performed by the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) and the Ad hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action (AWG-LCA)

Decisión 1/CP.16

Outcomes of the AWG-LCA on financing options for the full implementation of actions based on the results mentioned in decision 1/CP.16, paragraph 73.

Decisión 12/CP.17.

Provides guidance on systems for providing information on how safeguards are addressed and respected and discusses the modalities relating to forest reference emission levels and forest reference levels as referred to in decision 1/CP.16.

Decisión 1/CP.18. Párrafos 25 - 40

Agreed outcome pursuant to the Bali Action Plan.


The Conference of the Parties (COP 16 session) Cancun 2010 and the REDD measures

In December 2010, during the Conference of the Parties on its sixteenth session, held in Cancun, REDD measure were defined.

68. Encourages all Parties to find effective ways to reduce the human pressure on forests that results in greenhouse gas emissions, including actions to address drivers of deforestation;

69. Affirms that the implementation of the activities referred to in paragraph 70 below should be carried out in accordance with appendix I to this decision, and that the safeguards referred to in paragraph 2 of appendix I to this decision should be promoted and supported;

70. Encourages developing country Parties to contribute to mitigation actions in the forest sector by undertaking the following activities, as deemed appropriate by each Party and in accordance with their respective capabilities and national circumstances:

  1. Reducing emissions from deforestation;
  2. Reducing emissions from forest degradation;
  3. Conservation of forest carbon stocks;
  4. Sustainable management of forests;
  5. Enhancement of forest carbon stocks
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