It took over a decade for the global framework called Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) to become official. It was written into the Paris climate change agreement in 2015, with an explicit reference for the provision of financial support. Now a Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation researcher is working to make it a reality.

Senior Research Associate Carol Franco has provided technical support for the Dominican Republic’s delegation to international climate talks since the 2009 U.N. Climate Change Conference and attended meetings as a delegation member since the 2012 conference. Her focus has been on REDD+ and the financial mechanisms to support its implementation.

As a senior technical advisor for the Dominican Republic’s National Council on Climate Change and its Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, Franco was part of the team that developed the country’s Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs). “The Dominican Republic’s INDCs are conditional. We are already doing mitigation actions, but we will need funding for an additional 25 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2030, which is the country’s proposed target,” she explained.

At the Paris meeting, Franco presented the adaptation component of the Dominican Republic’s INDCs to a panel organized by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. “We included the ecosystem-based approach as part of our adaptation actions because it is the best way to holistically conserve and manage our ecosystems and ensure the Dominican Republic’s adaptation to climate change,” she said.

Back in Blacksburg, Franco has been successful in securing funding for the development of an international climate change program. She also is developing a course that will take Virginia Tech students to the Dominican Republic to learn on-the-ground implementation of mitigation and adaptation policies for climate change.