Bhutan Explores REDD+ Safeguards and Multiple Benefits
Bhutan is currently building its capacities in the area of REDD+ safeguards and understanding the multiple benefits that REDD+ can catalyze beyond reducing carbon emissions.
With support from the UN-REDD Programme, the country brought together 35 officials from the Ministry of Agriculture and Forests, Dzongkhags, College of Natural Resources, the Department of Hydropower Services, and NGOs to take part in a workshop designed to increase knowledge of these issues.
When forests are maintained, restored or enhanced as part of REDD+, this will result in multiple benefits including climate change mitigation and other ecosystem services. While REDD+ has the potential to yield substantial social and environmental benefits, there are also potential risks from its implementation. For example, biodiversity may be lost from non-forest ecosystems as a result of afforestation.
|credit: Watershed Management Division, Royal Kingdom of Bhutan
Participants at Bhutan's workshop on REDD+ safeguards and multiple benefits
Workshop presentations covered:
- The meaning of multiple benefits and REDD+ safeguards;
- The UNFCCC safeguards (the “Cancun Safeguards”);
- Building a national approach to safeguards;
- Safeguards Information Systems; and
- REDD+ activities and relevant Policies, Laws and Regulations in Bhutan.
On the first day, participants identified priority risks and potential benefits from REDD+ in Bhutan using the UN-REDD Programme Social and Environmental Principles and Criteria. One benefit from REDD+ identified by the participants was enhancing watershed protection and hence securing hydroelectric power generation. The group also underscored the potential threat to forest community livelihoods if REDD+ activities were to create restrictions on access to forest resources.
On the second and third day, policies, laws and regulations (PLRs) were identified which could support Bhutan’s national approach to safeguards. The draft UN-REDD Programme Benefits and Risks tool (BeRT) was used to identify PLRs that relate to the protection and enhancement of non-forest ecosystems and natural forests. The outputs from working through BeRT will be summarized in the workshop report. They will be used to develop the approach to safeguards within the national REDD+ strategy.
The proposed next steps after the workshop, which took place 10-12 October in Paro, Bhutan, are for the National Technical Working Group to undertake further work on developing a national approach to safeguards using BeRT, and for the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry to make some basic information on REDD+ and REDD+ safeguards available on their website. Raising awareness on REDD+ is a crucial issue in Bhutan. The report containing the workshop findings can be found here.