Institutional Assessment Tool for Benefit Sharing Under REDD+

This tool is designed to help USAID staff prioritize support for capacity-building of new or existing institutions that manage and disburse equitable, efficient, and effective REDD+ benefits.



Part I is designed to assist the researcher to map REDD+ benefit sharing institutions, in order to build an understanding of the system and identify institutional gaps. It prompts the researcher to identify and objectively describe the institutions governing the vertical distribution of REDD+ finance (Section I) and horizontal distribution of REDD+ benefits (Section II) in a given country. Guidance is provided to help the researcher navigate the range of potential institutional arrangements that might be in place. This will assist USAID and other development partners identify the key institutions with a country that should be engaged in any REDD+ institutional development efforts, as well as to identify partner institutions for development assistance.

Part I, Section I should always be applied at a national scale, in order to capture all major flows of REDD+ finance within the country. These flows generally include financial transfers between organizations – such as donors, banks, government agencies, NGOs, companies – within and across international, national, and subnational scales.

Part I, Section II should be applied at a scale consistent with the benefit sharing case study selected by the researcher. For example, if the researcher selects a national Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) program for the case study, Section II should be applied at a national scale. If the researcher chooses to focus on a REDD+ project operating in a particular district, Section II should be applied at the district level. Regardless of the scale of the case study, the focus of Section II is to understand the transfer of REDD+ benefits to local stakeholders within a given scale.


Part II is designed to assist the researcher to qualitatively assess REDD+ benefit sharing institutions, in order to identify deficiencies or weaknesses in their design and operations. It prompts the researcher to assess the institutions identified in Part I against a common set of principles and criteria that reflect desirable attributes for any REDD+ benefit sharing mechanism (Table 1). Each criterion contains several diagnostic questions to guide the researcher. Each diagnostic question can be answered as “yes”, “no”, or “not applicable”. In addition, the researcher must provide evidence, analysis, and documentation to objectively support and justify the answer. Nonetheless, the results from the institutional assessment will inherently be characterized by a certain amount of subjectivity, which should be considered for the use and interpretation of the results (see “Guidance Note on Data Collection and Using Assessment Results” at the end of this document). For the most effective use of the tool, Parts I and II should be integrated into a broader capacity building process, which considers desired and actual performance, describes the causes of performance gaps, identifies potential solutions, and implements solutions within a rigorous monitoring and evaluation framework.


Special emphasis is given to the interests of women and indigenous peoples throughout the tool. It is widely recognized that REDD+ should promote good practices and avoid perpetuating or exacerbating existing inequalities. In particular, women and indigenous peoples are known to play a unique and critical role in protecting and managing forests. They are also particularly vulnerable to the negative social and environmental impacts of forest loss. Thus, good practices such as gender mainstreaming; women’s empowerment; and free, prior, and informed consent (FPIC) for indigenous peoples are widely considered to be essential for effective, efficient, and equitable REDD+ programs.