Piloting REDD safeguards principles
Nigeria has initiated pilot programmes on two related Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) strategies that seek to ensure that REDD activities do not have adverse impact on non-carbon interests.
These entail the Social and Environmental Safeguards (SESs) as well as the Participatory Governance Assessments (PGAs), which are being operated in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) offices in Abuja.
The purpose of the PGAs for REDD in Nigeria is to provide a framework for a participatory process at the country level to conduct governance assessments for information sharing on how REDD safeguards are promoted, addressed and respected in a systematic manner. Indeed, the PGAs are considered to be a subset of the overall SESs, which ensure that environmental and social issues are evaluated in decision making, help assess and reduce the risks, and provide a mechanism for consultation and disclosure of information.
In May, a forum involving key local REDD stakeholders from federal and state levels held in Lagos, during which consensus was reached on the value of developing PGAs for REDD in the country. The gathering also identified key governance issues which should be assessed, and on a broad timeline and steps for the first phase of Nigeria’s PGA process, which will be from July until December 2011.
A national consultant is expected to be recruited anytime from now to start with governance mapping and analysis work to inform a planned workshop during the third week of September, where governance methodologies and next steps will be discussed and agreed.
The PGA is presumably utilising the concept of the Good Urban Governance (GUG) campaign. According to experts, without competent and an accountable urban governance, the potential contributions of cities to national economy and social development will be lost.
In a Nigerian assessment, the GUG states that the nation has continued to experience rapid urbanisation (currently put at 48 percent), which has been accompanied by fast growing cities characterised by rising urban poverty, proliferation of slums, inadequate provision of basic services, high crime rates and insecurity and the absence of city-wide institution to govern these cities.
Launched in 2001 in which several norms were adopted to enhance the capacity of urban local governments and other stakeholders to practice good urban governance, an assessment was undertaken under the GUG project as a prime step towards determining advocacy, programmatic, policy and legislative responses to achieve sustainable urbanisation and GUG in Nigeria.
This project has been implemented with the technical cooperation of Oslo Governance Centre (OGC), UNDP and the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT).
Last week in Abuja, REDD stakeholders and UN officials gathered at a technical consultative meeting under the UN-REDD SESs, which is an aspect that helps countries to promote and respect the REDD principles as agreed at COP 16 in Cancun, Mexico. The SESs are seven in all.
On how beneficial the development is to the nation, National REDD Coordinator, Salisu Dahiru, said, “It will help to enrich our National REDD Document, and makes Nigeria one of the leading experts in the world in terms of REDD. Based on our advancement in the REDD process, we provide a good candidate for piloting the PGA assessment. We have commenced the process, and developed the roadmap and framework.”
Against the backdrop of the last UN-REDD Policy Board (UPB) meeting in DaLat, Vietnam, Nigeria will re-present its National REDD Report Document at the next UPB gathering scheduled for Germany in October. The report emerged courtesy of a scoping mission last year that took UN, national and local officials to Calabar in Cross River State and Abuja in the Federal Capital Territory.
In her address earlier in the year at the Ministerial Dialogue with the Heads of the member organisations of the Collaborative Partnership on Forests, on the occasion of the 9th United Nations Forum on Forests, UNDP Administrator Helen Clark emphasised the UN body’s commitment to REDD safeguards.
She stated that recognition given in the Cancun Agreements to the need for strong safeguards to achieve the goals of REDD was a “breakthrough”. She committed UNDP, through the UN-REDD Programme, to “having its work on environmental and social safeguards that meet the expectations set out in the Cancun Agreement; developing a recourse mechanism for forest stakeholders involved in REDD, to ensure accountability and provide a system for addressing complaints from affected parties; and ensuring that human rights and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, included the right to Free, Prior, and Informed Consent, will underpin the safeguards framework”.
Apart from Nigeria, Indonesia has likewise initiated pilots on the PGA for REDD, where there have been several consultations with a panel of experts to look at the overall design and scope of the PGA, which is looking at three areas of governance in particular: legal and policy frameworks; capacities of REDD actors (nationally and sub-nationally), including civil society actors and business entities; and the impact of existing laws and practices. In addition, the PGA will address anti-corruption and conflict issues.
In July, provincial consultative meetings were held in both Riau and Central Sulawesi – both to enrich the overall design of the PGA through input from relevant stakeholders and to ensure ownership at the provincial level. In these consultation meetings, participants included key provincial government representatives, academics, non-governmental organizations (working on environmental, Indigenous Peoples and gender issues), and the forest business association. The purpose of these consultative provincial meetings was to provide inputs and improve the design and plans for the PGA process.
There will also be a national consultative meeting on the PGA design where ministries, such as Ministry of Forestry, UKP4, Ministry of Environment, Indonesia’s National Development Planning Agency (BAPPENAS), and national level civil society actors will take part to discuss and advance the PGA process further.