The 2013 Warsaw Framework for REDD+ agreed upon at the last climate conference (COP19) was a positive step forward. Several contentious issues, for example in relation to measurement, reporting and verification (MRV) and results-based finance, were decided, providing a positive signal to countries on proceeding with their REDD+ activities. However, there is unfinished business on REDD+ safeguards. Additional guidance is needed including an agreement on the types of information to be provided through safeguards information systems (SIS). This important component of the REDD+ framework must be addressed this year in order to assist developing country Parties in implementing safeguards equitably and effectively, and in establishing their SIS.
Although Parties agreed to some initial guidance on SIS at COP17 in Durban (2011), they recognized that more would be needed to successfully operationalize REDD+. They requested the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technical Advice (SBSTA) to consider the need for further guidance to “ensure transparency, consistency, comprehensiveness and effectiveness when informing on how all safeguards are addressed and respected and, if appropriate, to consider additional guidance”. This issue remains on the agenda up to the present.
In June 2013, SBSTA called for submissions on the SIS to be considered in December 2014 at COP20 in Lima. Due in September 2014, these submissions are expected to capture lessons learned to date and set the scene for agreeing to much needed additional guidance at COP20. The REDD+ Safeguards Working Group (R-SWG) presents this briefing paper in preparation for the important discussion of why additional guidance is needed, and offers initial views on what it should address based on experiences gathered on-the-ground in developing countries.
The rapid momentum of negotiations under the Green Climate Fund (GCF) presents a further compelling reason to conclude the additional guidance this year. Decisions on GCF safeguards and results areas are expected in 2014; the briefing paper therefore provides views on safeguards and the SIS in relation to the GCF. Negotiations under the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP) are also beginning to gain momentum. They are expected to culminate in a new post-2020 climate agreement at COP21 in Paris in 2015, incorporating REDD+. Additional guidance therefore needs to be concluded in time for incorporation into the new agreement.
State of play: Safeguards and SIS in the UNFCCC
To date, only limited guidance has been developed under the UNFCCC and incorporated into the Warsaw Framework. It addresses the timing, frequency and channel of communication for submitting summaries of information (elaborated below), but there is no guidance on types of information to be provided other than stating it should include how all the safeguards are being addressed and respected, while the guidance from Durban provides only minimal advice on SIS. There is rich material to draw from to inform the needed additional guidance on implementation of safeguards and SIS, including submissions from Parties and Observers in 2011 and additional recommendations from workshops in Panama that same year, as well as experience gained by countries since then. To the disappointment of stakeholders, including the R-SWG, many recommendations made in 2011 were not included in the Durban guidance.