Regional Workshop on ‘REDD+ Safeguards for Himalayas’



Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) Safeguards are procedures and approaches that ensure implementation of REDD+ activities by countries do no harm to people and the environment, and simultaneously enhance governance, social and environmental benefits. Addressing and respecting safeguard principles is a prerequisite for receiving performance based REDD+ payments. As a result, precautionary stipulations (like laws protecting the rights of citizens, environmental and social impact assessments) to secure REDD+ Safeguards were adopted by the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC (COP 16) as Cancun Safeguards. Under the Cancun Safeguards, it was agreed to adhere to a set of seven principles while undertaking REDD+ activities. Thus, countries undertaking REDD+ activities must comply with the seven safeguard principles are addressed and each are respected in all phases (readiness, piloting and implementation) of REDD+. In addition, a reporting mechanism referred to as a ‘Safeguard Information System’ (SIS) needs to be developed as a provision on how REDD+ safeguard principles are addressed and respected throughout the implementation of REDD+ activities.

Why is it important to have REDD+ Safeguards in mountainous countries?

International negotiations have largely focused on REDD+ activities in tropical countries. Forests in tropics, sub-tropics and mountainous areas perform differently in terms of growth, and countries have different social, environmental, ecological and economic interdependencies. However, mountain issues are not duly discussed and reflected in the climate negotiations and the agreements. 

Furthermore, UNFCCC does not provide a particular framework for REDD+ Safeguards for the Parties to follow. Countries must develop their own SIS on reporting how safeguards are addressed (by existing policy, law and rules) and respected (implemented) in their own context. In the Hindu Kush Himalaya region, countries initiated their work on safeguards, but no formal submissions have been made by any country to the UNFCCC. 

Under this scenario, it is time to bring the REDD+ implementers from eastern Himalayan countries (Bhutan, India, Myanmar and Nepal) together to discuss the process of designing and applying REDD+ Safeguards to comply with UNFCCC within the context of this region.

The REDD+ Initiative conducted the regional workshop ‘Demystifying REDD+ Safeguards’ in Kolkata, India in November 2015. This workshop formed the basis for establishing a regional Safeguards platform as a learning and knowledge sharing forum, and countries agreed to work together in the country context on safeguard approaches. Post workshop, respective countries provided information on the status of existing Policy, Laws and Regulations (PLR) focusing on REDD+ Safeguards in their specific country context and the development of national safeguard systems. The information provided on regional safeguards shows not all countries have the same status in terms of PLR alignment and the development of SIS including National Safeguard System (NSS). 

A country level analysis of such information revealed the development of REDD+ Safeguards in the four countries has reached a distinct stage. The countries’ status pertaining to REDD+ Safeguards is outlined below and forms the basis for the second regional workshop, ‘REDD+ Safeguards for Eastern Himalayas’.

Workshop objectives

  • Share country status on REDD+ Safeguards by Bhutan, India, Myanmar and Nepal
  • Identify the gaps of REDD+ Safeguards system in complying with the Cancun Safeguards principles, referring to each country’s existing PLRs (addressing)
  • Identify and examine bottlenecks (technical and Safeguards related issues) in implementing REDD+ Safeguards principles (respecting)
  • Develop a regional framework for assisting the formulation of the National Safeguards System including SIS

Expected outputs

  • Prepare a “Regional REDD+ Safeguards Framework for Himalayas” that clearly represents technical issues of the ICIMOD regional member countries and stipulates the ways and measures to effectively address and respect the Cancun REDD+ Safeguards principles for the HKH region
  • Prepare a document to be presented at the UNFCCC meeting as a submission from the region on the specificities of Safeguards and processes for the development of National Safeguards System