South-South Knowledge Exchange on REDD+ Safeguards

24.07.2018 - Article

Participants from 12 African countries shared experiences on REDD+ safeguards and discussed shared challenges as well as potential solutions for meeting these standards at a regional learning event in Accra on June, 12 and 13.

Discussions on REDD+ safeguards.
Discussions on REDD+ safeguards.© International Climate Initiative/SNV

Safeguards are applied to avoid potential negative impacts of programmes on people or the environment, for example by protecting the interests of native people and local communities. The event was organised by the Ghana Forestry Commission and supported by the IKI-funded project ‘Operationalising National Safeguards for Results-based Payments from REDD+’.

REDD+ is a key climate change mitigation and adaptation strategy featured in the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) of many African countries. A number of these states have been making good progress with the development of their national REDD+ programmes and are moving closer towards implementation. Since this requires the application of safeguards, there is an increasing focus on meeting these requirements in order to receive results-based payments. However, although applying safeguards poses a challenge for many countries, only limited further guidance is provided on this by the UNFCCC. In addition, countries often need to meet the safeguards requirements of different international donors or financing institutions, especially the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) or the Green Climate Fund (GCF).

The IKI project, implemented by SNV in cooperation with the Ghana Forestry Commission, Climate Law and Policy and the United Nations Environment/UN-REDD Programme, aims to assist regional leaders in REDD+ readiness. During the learning event, participants discussed the three UNFCCC requirements: 1) implementing REDD+ in a manner consistent with the Cancun safeguards principles; 2) having a Safeguards Information System (SIS) in place; and 3) submitting a summary of information on how the safeguards have been addressed and respected. Global experts and key country safeguard focal points gave framework presentations on requirements, emerging guidance and global progress as well as key country experiences. Subsequently, participants exchanged information with international experts on their country-specific experience to identify common features.

Participants at the Africa Region South-South Learning Event on REDD+ Safeguards in Accra
Participants at the Africa Region South-South Learning Event on REDD+ Safeguards in Accra© International Climate Initiative/SNV

Strong ownership based on national institutions

A number of key REDD+ countries in the Africa Region have conducted detailed assessments of their legal frameworks to identify existing policies, laws and regulations that safeguard biodiversity, promote consultation and participation and support the rights of local communities. Many have also conducted comprehensive assessments of environmental and social issues associated with proposed activities in their nascent or recently developed National REDD+ Strategies and major sub-national programmes, often with support from the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF).

In Ethiopia and Ghana, for instance, hybrid approaches have emerged that take account of the UNFCCC principles and FCPF’s substantive requirements, whilst utilising existing national laws and institutional structures for implementation. A key message from the event was that whilst development partners and consultants have an important supportive technical-assistance role to play, the safeguards process must be government-led and locally owned.

Progress on SIS development

Five African countries – Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Madagascar and Zambia – now have an initial SIS design document, with Ghana and Madagascar also having online SIS portals. Meanwhile, a number of other countries have made notable advances in formulating their SIS design by defining information needs related to their own country interpretations of the Cancun safeguards as well as reporting requirements of the FCPF, developing criteria and indicators, assessing potential existing information sources and developing institutional arrangements for data collection and compilation appropriate to national capacities and context.

Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Zambia have begun drafting their first summaries of information. Other countries are also beginning to consider developing their summaries of information as this is also a requirement for accessing results-based payments from the Green Climate Fund. The event generated detailed, passionate and rich discussions and emphasised the value of South-South learning.

The IKI project continues to work in Ghana as well as Vietnam and Peru on supporting these countries in meeting the international REDD+ safeguards requirements. By the end of the project (November 2018), it is expected that both Ghana and Viet Nam will have defined their country safeguards frameworks, designed an SIS and prepared their first summaries of information. Whilst progress in Peru has been more challenging, momentum is now building and the project aims to help present an initial SIS framework design and a preliminary draft of the first summary of information. A final South-South Learning Event on REDD+ Safeguards is tentatively being planned for Peru later in the year.

© International Climate Initiative

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