The second thematic session of the 2nd GLOBE International Forest Forum was on REDD+ legislation and environmental & social safeguards in the context of REDD strategy development.
Study recommendations on safeguards were introduced by Darragh Conway from Climate Focus. The presentation was followed by a panel discussion. Speakers included Senator Joao Capiberibe from Brazil, Ruben Rashidi, UNEP Consultant DRC/CN-REDD and Juan Carlos Carillo Fuentes from the Mexican Center for Environmental Law (CEMDA).
Ruben Rashidi shared some of the challenges of developing national environmental and social safeguards for REDD in the DRC, which will require a complex legal framework including legislation, regulation and decrees. He highlighted the importance of an inclusive consultation process as an important step, and emphasized the role that parliamentarians can play in this process in their constituencies. He also highlighted REDD as a mechanism which can potentially contribute greatly not only to emission reductions but to some of the DRC's greatest challenges – economic/social development and job creation, given that the right safeguards and frameworks are in place.
Juan Carlos Carillo Fuentes highlighted that REDD+ is not only a climate or environmental issue, it also has a clear link to human rights, with immediate impacts on the lives and livelihoods of local communities. He gave examples from important legislation on safeguards passed by the Mexican Congress in collaboration with GLOBE in Mexico in 2012 and explained how these laws now need to be implemented. He also pointed out that the issue of safeguards is very important not least for indigenous peoples – not only in Mexico but also in other countries facing similar challenges of legislating for REDD+.
Senator Joao Capiberibe of Brazil injected a healthy dose of realism into the discussions and highlighted problematic issues in the recently amended Brazilian Forest Code. He gave examples of the difficulties balancing environmental and agricultural/economic interests in this context, and pointed to the need for additional legislation on both environmental and social safeguards.
Other issues discussed during the session include the principle of Free, Prior & Informed Consent, and how this is being integrated into national legislation and implemented in the countries covered by the GLOBE study. Broader political challenges of bridging the gap between international frameworks, national policies/legislation and local impacts/implementation in the context of REDD+ were also discussed extensively. The importance of harmonizing divergent national agricultural and environmental/forest policies and legislation, whilst not watering down environmental safeguards, was also identified as a central balancing act that legislators in many tropical forest countries are currently facing.
Legislators from Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe also shared experiences from their countries and expressed an interest in collaborating more closely with GLOBE on forest/REDD legislation.
Safeguards - Findings
Findings from the four country studies in this project highlight the following areas of work for development and implementation of meaningful safeguards for REDD+ include:
1. Adaptation and customization of existing background legislation, as well as promulgating necessary implementing regulations will allow for governments to most efficiently respond to REDD+. For the development of safeguards specific to REDD+ (e.g., common criteria), longer-term legislation likely will need to be developed;
2. Both customization of existing law and development of new law is likely to work best when informed by principles-criteria-indicators participatory safeguard development approaches (e.g., REDD+ SES, CCBS);
3. Standardization and formalization of safeguard processes for REDD+ will be important to ensure a common approach to safeguards across projects, programs and initiatives in a given REDD+ country;
4. In many countries, technical capacity building and institutional development will be necessary in order to implement safeguard legal provisions;
5. Regardless of legal recognition chosen, it is important that protection of indigenous peoples is guaranteed in REDD+ programs and projects, although with similar levels of protection given to other vulnerable social groups and local communities.
6. Financial safeguards intended to prevent both official government corruption and misuse of public funds will be vitally important to ensuring equitable outcomes. REDD+ Funds and similar financial receipt and distribution vehicles under development in many countries will need comprehensive regulation in order to ensure transparent and accountable management.