Markets working to support sustainable development

REDD+ Social and Environmental Standards (SES)

The REDD+ Social and Environmental Standards (SES) are designed to build support for policies and measures implemented by government-led REDD+ programmes and can be applied to all forms of fund-based or market-based financing, so long as the programme also contributes to positive social and environmental outcomes. 

The Standards seek to:

  • Provide comprehensive support for the development of a country-led, multi-stakeholder safeguards information system.
  • Provide a framework for monitoring and reporting on how safeguards are being addressed and respected throughout REDD+ implementation.
  • Aim to enhance positive outcomes – respect for the rights of Indigenous Peoples and local communities, poverty reduction and biodiversity conservation – as well as avoid social and environmental harm.
  • Support the design, implementation, and assessment of the potential social and environmental impacts of government-led REDD+ programmes, enabling consistent assessment irrespective of funding source.
  • Build support at national and global levels for a more effective, equitable and sustainable approach to REDD+.

The REDD+ SES can be used to assess: processes for development of country-level REDD+ programmes, strategies, policies and plans; the implementation of country-level REDD+ policies and plans; and the social and environmental outcomes on the ground. To do this effectively, REDD+ SES uses criteria that targets the processes, impacts and policies of a programme to sensure that they operate inline with the REDD+SES prinicples.

The Prinicples

  1. The REDD+ programme recognises and respects rights to lands, territories and resources.
  2. The benefits of the REDD+ programme are shared equitably among all relevant rights holders and stakeholders.
  3. The REDD+ programme improves long-term livelihood security and well-being of Indigenous Peoples and local communities with special attention to women and the most marginalised and/or vulnerable people.
  4. The REDD+ programme contributes to good governance, to broader sustainable development and to social justice.
  5. All relevant rights holders and stakeholders participate fully and effectively in the REDD+ programme.
  6. The REDD+ programme complies with applicable local and national laws and international treaties, conventions and other instruments.

The indicators 

To assess whether or not a programme is worthy of REDD+SES certification, there are three types of framework indicators that each consider aspects of the standard - these are:

  • Policy indicators that focus on the policies, strategies, legal frameworks, and institutions related to the REDD+ programme that should be in place.
  • Process indicators that assess whether or not, as well as how, a particular process related to the REDD+ programme has been planned, established and implemented.
  • Outcome indicators that evaluates the lasting impacts of the REDD+ programme.


  • Monitoring  - a plan is created, outlining exactly what information will be collected, how it is analysed and who is repsonsible for it.
  • Reviewing - consultations are organised to facilitate stakeholder review of the draft assessment report to enhance quality and credibility.
  • Reporting – after approval by the country-level Standards Committee, the full report of performance against the indicators of the REDD+ SES is made publicly available.
Market coverage: 

Ecuador, Peru and Nepal, as well as the state of Acre in Brazil, are using the standard. Meanwhile, other countries/provinces that are starting to use REDD+ SES include Guatemala, Mexico, San Martin Region in Peru, Amazonas State in Brazil, Liberia and Tanzania.

Background information: 

REDD+ SES were developed in 2010 through a series of multi-stakeholder workshops held in Danemark, Nepal, Tanzania, Ecuador and Liberia.  Since then, the standards have been reviewed after receiving feedback from the countries using it. 

The potential of REDD+SES is that it will one day allow for:

  • Good practice guidance.
  • Providing a framework for reporting on performance using most of the REDD+ SES content and process.
  • To provide a comprehensive mechanism for reporting on performance that is consistent across all countries. 

An international review mechanism is also under development to assess the quality of the process followed to use REDD+ SES at country level.

Funding source: 

Not clear, though likely funded by the organisations that from the Secretariat (see 'led by').

Notable information: 
  • The country-led multi-stakeholder process for using REDD+ SES creates a platform for engagement between government and other key stakeholder groups that may have not have happened otherwise.
  • The Standards allow for country–specific interpretations - this, for them, is key to ensuring the standards are relevant to the country context and building understanding and ownership of rights holders and stakeholders.
  • REDD+ SES provides a platform for peer to peer learning across countries on REDD+ safeguards