This paper explores the policy need and legal case for including social safeguards in a post-2012 agreement on reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD). One serious charge laid against so called 'market-based' approaches to REDD is the potential for forest dwelling communities to be dispossessed from their land and to lose other rights afforded to them in international human rights law. Rather than criticise current REDD proposals as being inherently negative for forest dwelling communities, this paper asks firstly, whether REDD can potentially work in their favour and secondly, how such an opportunity could be realised in a future REDD agreement.
After reviewing current REDD proposals and related threats, this paper argues for the inclusion of social safeguards within the post-2012 agreement on REDD. The primary cause of forest dwelling communities vulnerability is not REDD itself but the potential for REDD to operate in the absence of social safeguards. This paper presents four mutually reinforcing safeguards to protect forest dwelling communities in the context of a future agreement on REDD. This paper finds that a REDD market which requires minimum international standards of social protection is likely to benefit forest dwelling communities.