GLF 2014: Deal or no deal, experts upbeat on progress of REDD+ safeguards

By Kate Evans, originally posted at CIFOR’s Forests News

Despite no movement on the issue of REDD+ safeguards in discussions in Lima this month, experts on a panel at the Global Landscapes Forum on the sidelines of the UN climate conference (COP20) said progress on safeguards on the ground in some countries offers hope.

“It is an exciting time for REDD+ and for safeguards with all this experience coming out,” said Joanna Durbin, Director of the Climate, Community & Biodiversity Alliance (CCBA), which alongside CARE International serves as the secretariat of the REDD+ Social and Environmental Standards (SES) Initiative—and which organised the panel along with CIFOR.

“We’re in an initiative of exchange and learning between countries that is leading to new emerging good practices—and it really helps to emphasize how REDD+ can be part of a broader sustainable development strategy,” she said.

REDD+ safeguards are measures that mitigate potential social and environmental harms that could result from the implementation of REDD+, a voluntary mechanism that incentivizes developing countries for avoided deforestation.

“When REDD+ got going, lots of people were worried about how it would be implemented, and whether it would throw indigenous people off their land, or big private companies would come in, or that trees would be planted in monocultures,” Durbin said.

At COP16 in Cancun in 2010, a set of seven general safeguards was agreed upon, covering governance, rights, participation, consent, environmental and social-co-benefits, permanence and leakage.

“So [safeguards] are not only a kind of add-on, prerequisite checklist that you do, they’re an integral part of making REDD+ more effective, and making sure it delivers a whole suite of sustainable development objectives.”

SHOW ME THE WAY?

Last year, at COP19 in Warsaw, countries agreed that governments ‘should’ provide information every two years on how they’re complying with the Cancun safeguards to be eligible for results-based payments.

That measure of compliance is known as Safeguards Information Systems (SIS), which was approved at COP17 in Durban.

Many countries think that it would be very helpful to have more guidance

At the moment, countries largely develop their own systems—and discussions at this year’s COP in Lima centered on whether there should be more international guidance on what SIS summaries should contain.

This is what caused the sticking point in the negotiations.

“Many countries think that it would be very helpful to have more guidance because then they would know what they have to provide to the outside world, and donors and financing agencies would know what is good enough,” Durbin said.

“But there’s also a push back from some countries who are implementing REDD+ and don’t want to be told what to do.”

Read full blog at Forests News