How Safe Are The Safeguards? Durban Highlights

Dec 1st, 2011 | By | Category: Adaptation, Advocacy, Bhutan, Capacity Development, CoP17, Development and Climate Change, Disasters and Climate Change, Ecosystem Functions, Environment, Events, Financing, Governance, Government Policies, Green House Gas Emissions, Guest Speak, India, Information and Communication, International Agencies, Lessons, M-20 CAMPAIGN, Mitigation, Nepal, News, Opinion, Pakistan, REDD+, Technologies, UNFCCC, Vulnerability

Durban Post: Dr. C. S. Silori* writing from Durban on Day-II & III, 29-30 November 2011

I had promised to come back, and here I am again with a short report of what happened on day 3 of the ongoing conference of the parties (COP 17) in Durban. It was a hectic day, as I kept on moving from one side event to another. REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation and sustainable management of forests, conservation, and enhancement of forest carbon stocks) was the focus of all the side events, I attended today. Range of presentations from NGOs, academia, project proponents, advocacy groups, government representative etc. focused on sustainability assessment framework for REDD+, gender, justice and social learning in adaptation, drivers of deforestation, social safeguards of REDD+, how REDD+ is unfolding on the ground and what lessons can be learnt from the past experiences from different forestry management regimes those could be applied for implementing REDD+. The geographical range of presentations included from Africa, South America, Asia and Europe.

One of the key features of the presentations was dominance of discussion and experience sharing on social and environmental safeguards of REDD+. We all know that Cancun Agreement provided solid foundation to move ahead with social and environmental safeguards of REDD+. The social and environmental safeguards, as stipulated in Annex 1 of the Cancun Agreement, emphasize on implementing REDD+ activities in accordance with guidance provided by the COP and cover a range of issues. These include the conservation of natural forests and biological diversity, transparent and effective national forest governance structures, respect for the knowledge and rights of indigenous peoples and local communities, and the full and effective participation of stakeholders in particular indigenous peoples and local communities. The Agreement also stipulates that REDD+ actions need to consistent with the conservation of natural forests and biological diversity and serve to incentivize protection and conservation of natural forests and their ecosystem services and to enhance other social and environmental benefits.

Subsequent to the Cancun Agreement, a number of multilateral and bilateral initiatives have responded to develop sets of provisions for promoting social and environmental safeguards of REDD+. Some of them have also taken initiatives to integrate safeguards within national REDD+ framework. Some of the most prominent ones include the Strategic Environmental and Social Assessment (SESA) developed by the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) programme, Social and Environmental Principles and Criteria Framework developed by UN-REDD. REDD+ Social and Environmental safeguards developed by the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Alliance (CCBA) and Care International, Rainforest Alliance Social and Environmental Safeguards for REDD+, Forest Steward Council (FSC) Principles and Criteria, to name a few.

However, one of the key things that emerged from the presentations is the contentious nature of implementation and monitoring of safeguards. The issues relating to how the safeguards developed under various initiatives as listed above will be contextualized at national level and where the funds will come for developing safeguards and monitoring the deforestation. Some argue that safeguards could potentially make implementation of REDD+ more complex and increase transaction cost, and therefore less able to compete with other land uses or with other sources of carbon credits. A number of civil society organizations and community representatives argue that the safeguards do not go far enough to protect the culture and livelihood of forest dependent communities. And it will be important that the development and implementation of safeguards takes the points of view of these REDD+ stakeholders into account. However, one commonality that was across all the deliberations was the importance of Free, Prior and Informed Consent, as one of the key tools to ensure the social safeguards, besides, ensuring fair benefit sharing and transparent governance mechanism, which themselves are equally challenging. Particularly in the countries which are receiving funds both from the World Bank under FCPF and UN-REDD, it is very challenging to harmonize and apply different set of standards and criteria. Meaningful and genuine engagement of the concerned stakeholders and right holders is another critical point of contextualizing the safeguards to the national context. Equally contentious issue is the unclear land rights to the territories and resources. Government agencies often have overlapping mandates and this can cause problems with defining and negotiating rights issues in both setting standards for social safeguards and their implementation. Enforcing implementation and monitoring of safeguards are other challenges on the way to develop most appropriate and practically implementable social and environmental safeguards.

To wrap it up, while nationalizing REDD+ safeguards, looking beyond carbon benefits and exploring opportunities for additional economic incentives and maximizing the co-benefits will help improved buy-in of REDD+ programme from indigenous people and local communities, whose ownership and empowerment is crucial for the success of REDD+ programme.


*Dr. Chandra Shekhar Silori, kindly agreed to write ‘Durban Post’ from Durban for Climate Himalaya’s readers . Dr. Chandra Shekhar Silori is Project Coordinator for Grass Roots Capacity Building Needs on REDD+ at RECOFTC-the Centre for People and Forest at Bangkok, Thailand. As a team member of delegation of observer organization RECOFTC he is at present participating in COP-  17 at Durban. His organization has a couple of side events organized, one to share the findings of our recent study on capacity building needs of the service providers for REDD+, and other on the gender and REDD+. The RECOFTC will have a booth where the team will display the work on forestry in general and REDD+ in particular. Dr. Silori recently did a regional study on Capacity Building Need on REDD+ and will be sharing it during CoP 17 at Durban.



We putting together the highlights of the discussions from Durban on daily basis, this abstract has been prepared based on the detailed note from IISD’s Environment Network Bulletin. Following are the major discussion points of Durban talk on 29-30 November 2011.

1. Adaptation Mechanism: Argentina, for the G-77/ CHINA, said Durban must deliver an outcome that ensures the fulfilment of the Convention’s ultimate objective. On the Adaptation Committee, it was that it should have a majority of developing country members. It was also urged a decision on, inter alia, developed country public funds for long-term finance, and defining the governance structure of the Technology Mechanism. Many speakers, including the EU, Umbrella Group and G-77/China, urged progress on national adaptation plans and loss and damage.

The EU highlighted capacity building and technology, and expressed concern that an agenda item on non-Annex I communications remained in abeyance. The women groups stressed the importance of gender mainstreaming in national adaptation plans. On national adaptation plans informal consultations facilitated by SBI Chair Owen-Jones, delegates exchanged initial views on what they hoped to achieve in Durban.

Stressing that the national adaptation plans should not be prescriptive, Bolivia, for the G-77/China, said they should recognize that adaptation occurs at the local level, and be flexible and country-driven. Adaptation Board Chair Ana Fornells de Frutos (Spain), said institutional progress has been overshadowed by falling prices of CERs. Bahamas, for the G-77/China, stressed the comparatively small amount of money made available for adaptation.


2. Green Climate Fund: Papua New Guinea, for the Coalition for Rainforest Nations, called for the Green Climate Fund to include a dedicated window for REDD+ and a new market mechanism to be established and shared by both the AWG-LCA and the AWG-KP. The Gambia, for LDCs, called for operationalizing a more efficient and equitable international financial mechanism.

Nicaragua, for ALBA, stressed that the Green Climate Fund must not become an “empty basket” of false promises and called on developed countries to contribute 1.5% of their GDP. On the Report of Transitional Committee for Green Climate Fund, Co-Chair Trevor Manuel (South Africa) presented the Committee’s report, which includes the GCF’s draft governing instrument. He explained that the report aims to present a middle ground as the basis for launching the GCF in Durban. The EIG and African Group welcomed the report.

The EU observed that the draft governing instrument is a compromise but agreement should be reached on it as part of a balanced package, and further discussions would be counterproductive. Zambia, for LDCs, said the draft governing instrument provides sufficient basis for a financial institutional arrangement. The Philippines, for the G-77/CHINA, said the GCF is a crucial element of the solution. Barbados, for AOSIS, stressed that operationalizing the GCF cannot be delayed in spite of its shortcomings, which include lack of a dedicated SIDS and LDC funding window, and the lack of provision for a replenishment process. He said the GCF should not be an empty shell. Venezuela, for ALBA, expressed alarm over certain elements of the report, which would hinder democratic access to resources. It was stressed that the GCF must possess international legal personality, work under the guidance of the COP and have no conflict of interest between the fiduciary and executive trustee functions.

Acknowledging concerns with the draft governing instrument, Japan and Columbia (on behalf of Costa Rica, Chile, Honduras, Dominican Republic, Peru and Panama), opposed reopening the document and requested the COP Presidency to conduct consultations. AUSTRALIA expressed willingness to approve the document “as is.”


3. Clean Energy and Compliance Mechanism: Australia reported on its clean energy future package, which will drive “the biggest expansion in the clean energy sector in Australia’s history.” On the level of ambition, Switzerland, for the EIG, suggested: a process to increase ambition; technical workshops; and further consideration at COP 18.

On IAR, Bolivia called for a compliance system and a set of penalties. Mali, for the African group, suggested a robust compliance mechanism. China said discussions on developed and developing countries’ mitigation efforts should remain separate. During informal consultations, many parties expressed support for the non-papers as a basis for further discussions. Bolivia expressed concern that requirements being imposed on developed and developing countries are too similar.

Switzerland, for the EIG, highlighted three key issues: ambition and the need for information on the ambition gap; clarification of ambition; and common accounting rules. On biennial update reports, the US said the Cancun Agreements set their frequency at every two years and the information should be consistent with national communications. India said biennial update reports should be: less onerous than biennial reports for developed countries; updates of the latest national communications; and contingent on financing from Annex I parties.


4. Kyoto Protocol: The EU called for a process to deliver a new global, comprehensive and legally-binding framework, to be completed by 2015. He reaffirmed his commitment to jointly mobilize US$100 billion annually by 2020.

The Republic of Korea, for the Environment Integrity Group, expressed a commitment to a strengthened, comprehensive and ambitious international climate change regime. Argentina, for the G-77/ CHINA, stressed the need for developed countries to put forward ambitious quantified emission reduction commitments under the AWG-KP and lamented that current pledges are insufficient. Contingent on an agreement to develop a new legally-binding framework engaging all parties, the EU said they are “open to” a second commitment period, which should end by 2020.

The indigenous peoples supported strengthening the Kyoto Protocol provisions and developing alternatives to market mechanisms for adaptation and mitigation funding. Australia stated a second commitment period should be a transitional phase towards a broader, universal agreement. The EU said any agreement would be piecemeal because the number of parties willing to work on a “meaningful Kyoto Protocol” has declined.

Norway said the Kyoto Protocol alone is not enough to achieve a relevant reduction of global emissions. INDIA said it will not agree to changes to Annex B unless a second commitment period is agreed. BELARUS, the EU and UKRAINE favored simplifying amendment procedures. Parties agreed to keep this item open, pending the results of the AWG-KP.


5. Forest Management: A group of countries presented a revised proposal on the baseline approach to forest management accounting. Parties then addressed ¨disturbances, with some expressing concerns over the definition and the importance of distinguishing anthropogenic from natural disturbances, and others stressing the importance of operationalizing the concept.


6. Capacity Building and Review Mechanism: Climate Action Network suggested establishing a capacity building coordinating body. The Youth called for developing a clear monitoring matrix and indicators. Here, Australia cautioned against creating stand-alone capacity building institutions. Parties discussed, inter alia, alternate options under the section on enhancing monitoring and review, and informal will discuss ways to merge them.

The US urged taking full advantage of the knowledge and expertise of partners, and expanding into areas, such as agriculture, water and ecosystem-based approaches. Bangladesh, Nauru, the Sudan and Zambia said the accreditation process should be simplified to facilitate access. A contact group was established. New Zealand, supported by Australia and Canada, proposed including a template for understanding underlying assumptions for NAMAs. On accounting, Pakistan said a common reporting format is not applicable and expressed preference for a graduated model.


7. The Technology Executive Committee: TEC Chair Gabriel Blanco (Argentina) reported on a meeting held in Bonn in September 2011, in which members had elaborated on modalities and procedures. India, for the G-77/CHINA, suggested that the term of the TEC be extended by a year. He urged adoption of modalities and procedure as soon as possible. Tanzania proposed that the TEC explore synergies with other MEAs, including the Stockholm and Basel Conventions’ regional centers. Parties will take up the issue in a contact group.


8. Dates and Venue for Future Session: QATAR, which will host COP 18, said his government will spare no efforts to ensure its success. The REPUBLIC OF KOREA said that, following lengthy discussions, his country would host the pre-COP ministerial meeting


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2 Comments to “How Safe Are The Safeguards? Durban Highlights”

  1. Pabitra says:

    Superb work and many thanks Dr. Silori.

  2. Shalini says:

    Sincere thans to Dr. Silori for his upates about heating climate discussions in Durban…!

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