Transparency in climate finance mechanisms, such as Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+), relies on the transfer of information within a complex global web of state and nonstate actors. Such information is required under internationally agreed REDD+ safeguards, including measurement, reporting and verification (MRV) processes and free, prior, and informed consent (FPIC), and works to establish substantive and normative transparency. However, the sources of, access to, and outcomes from these information flows are still contentious. To address these problems, REDD+ project proponents are increasingly looking to information and communication technologies, such as mobile devices, to improve information gathering, processing, and access. In this article we develop a model and provide tentative examples of how normative and substantive transparency are connected through input and output legitimacy within broader governance contexts. We highlight that even though mobile devices are being used to bring forest communities into the REDD+ process, substantive transparency for emissions reductions through MRV tends to be prioritized over normative dimensions associated with FPIC. We conclude by highlighting the need to further understand the role of decentralized information flows in multilevel carbon governance and opportunities for how mobile technologies may be used to address transparency challenges in the governance of REDD+.

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