Regional Exchange on Safeguards and Integrity in LAC
As part of UN-REDD Programme support in the Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) region, a series of Regional Exchanges on REDD+ Safeguards and Integrity was held in 2023. This was a space for staff and experts working on the design, implementation and monitoring of REDD+ safeguards in the region to share experiences, good practices, common challenges and lessons learned, with the objective of improving the implementation, monitoring and reporting of safeguards and strengthening the environmental and social integrity of REDD+ in LAC
Session 1 Summary: Integrated REDD+ Safeguards framework
The first virtual and interactive session, "Integrated Safeguards Approaches," took place on July 27, 2023. Organized by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) under the UN-REDD Programme, this event marked the beginning of a rich series of sharing experiences and lessons learned on REDD+ safeguards.
With no specialized literature to consult, integrated safeguards approaches could be defined as a framework created for a specific project, programme or by a given jurisdiction, made up of a set of safeguards identified from the alignment of two or more strategically-chosen safeguards frameworks.
Mariano Cirone, UNEP regional safeguards focal point for the UN-REDD Programme, gave a brief conceptual introduction on integrated safeguards approaches and frameworks, how they work and possible applications to different REDD+ activities.
In regards to the experiences of countries in the region, the Vice Minister of Environment in the Secretariat of Natural Resources and Environment (SERNA) for Honduras, Malcolm Stufkens, shared a clear message about the importance and commitment of the country to safeguards, and how an integrated approach to safeguards could contribute to strengthening capacities and ownership of the process by government institutions. The role of the Safeguards+ Honduras project was highlighted, which was then briefly developed by Roberto Portillo and Mariano Cirone, members of the technical team who worked on the development of the Green Climate Fund Readiness Project in 2019 and 2020.
CONAF (Chile) shared some of its experiences in the development of the National Safeguards Approach and how the entity has gradually adopted an environmental and social risk management approach in its ongoing design and implementation of climate change mitigation policy.
Finally, the Safeguards team from the Payment for Results Project, "Paraguay+ Green," explained the process of implementation and reporting, based on an integrated framework of safeguards, using practical tools and specific spaces for capacity building.
Integrated safeguards frameworks are a very useful tool, especially for the stages of generating and managing information. The possibility of reporting according to such safeguards will depend on the context and rules of the funding used
- In the case of SIS, if there is an adequate process of explaining the alignment between the integrated framework and the Cancun Safeguards and ensuring the transparency, accessibility and integrity of safeguards information, there should be no impediment to meeting the requirements of the Warsaw REDD+ Framework on safeguards.
- This is the first national safeguards framework in the LAC region.
- Among its nine Environmental and Social Safeguards (ESS), there are several specific to the Honduran context, such as "Cultural Safeguard," Protection of the Safety of Environmentalists," among others.
- At the moment, Safeguards+Honduras focuses on capacity building in the area of safeguards and environmental risk management among different actors, for which there are several tools available.
Currently, an evaluation is being carried out on how to make Safeguards+Honduras function as a real safeguards system with practical implementation.
In Paraguay, a Technical Roundtable on Safeguards and Equality was created and plays a key role in the training of the different implementers.
The project has a Guide for Risk and Safeguards Management, which provides a series of relevant tools for the collection and reporting of information on safeguards.
The format of the tools is aligned with the reporting requirements of the Green Climate Fund's Progress Assessment Reports (APRs).
The Guidance promoted a paradigm shift by requiring field technicians to manage environmental and social risks transversally in their work.
The implementation of the integrated safeguards framework in the project serves as a precedent for the institutionalization of a safeguards framework at the government level.
The 12 "Cross-cutting Safeguards Axes" integrate the Cancun Safeguards, the World Bank Operational Policies, the Green Climate Fund safeguards, the UN REDD+ Guidance and the FAO Environmental and Social Standards.
The national SIS has a set of indicators based on cross-cutting themes.
- The SIS, thanks to these indicators, should be able to monitor and report on the safeguard objectives we have set ourselves.
"Historically, CONAF has been evolving to align its functioning with the safeguards requirements of REDD+. This is a constant process. Over time, it has been possible to advance institutionally at all levels to understand that climate change mitigation policies require a whole process of environmental and social risk management."
- Daniel Contreras, Head of the Safeguards Section, Department of Climate Change and Ecosystem Services, CONAF, Chile
"I believe the reports should also show experiences of how safeguards add value to projects and contribute to improving local conditions, moving from a risk-based approach to a benefits-based approach."
- Ana Paris, FAO Chile
"How long are we going to keep talking about safeguards as something separate from safeguards? Safeguards should be intrinsically contemplated in how we approach all our actions and not as a monitoring process carried out in parallel to project design and implementation."
- Vice Minister Malcolm Stufkens, SERNA
"Throughout the process of developing the project's safeguards approach, it was essential to work with Indigenous peoples, as often the instruments are developed from an overly technical point of view by experts. Thanks to the dialogue with these actors, it was possible to adapt them to the real needs in the territory."
- Fátima García, Paraguay+Verde Safeguards Team
Opportunities, challenges and conclusions
Integrated safeguards approaches would have the potential to:
- be an efficient strategy for the application and reporting of different safeguards frameworks applicable to the different levels of a REDD+ strategy, including related projects and public policies;
- contribute to ownership of the safeguards and risk management processes by adapting them to a local context, according to local priorities;
- function as a very useful tool for efficient implementation and reporting processes, especially in the information collection and management phases;
- contribute to simplifying the task of training and helping to educate local technicians and actors in the territory on safeguards.
Notwithstanding the above, some challenges also remain, such as:
- cases where donors require reporting to be in terms of their own safeguards, so in these cases it is complex to implement integrated safeguards frameworks in all facets of safeguards implementation and reporting;
- ensuring the design of more efficient safeguards implementation and reporting processes, avoiding duplication of efforts and associated transaction costs, especially in the framework of REDD+ Results-based Payment projects;
- implementing an adequate training process for actors and technicians working in the territory so they include safeguards transversally in interventions related to the REDD+ project or activity in question.
Participants from Latin America, representing governments, sub-national entities and project teams, actively joined the discussion, emphasizing the regional importance of integrated safeguards.
The team from CONAFOR, Mexico, opened the discussion by highlighting the potential of integrated safeguards frameworks as tools for capacity building and reporting in the framework of Safeguards Information Systems (SIS) for REDD+.
The Paraguay+Verde safeguards team highlighted the importance of training technicians working on the ground and of simplifying the language to reach everyone involved in a project who may not have technical knowledge about safeguards. They also emphasized the need to maintain a constant dialogue with Indigenous peoples and local communities to learn about their views using messages that can reach everyone.
Different participants agreed on the need for countries to strengthen the development and implementation of their own safeguards frameworks that, aligned with international standards, allow them to reduce transaction costs and bureaucracy in the management of environmental and social risks of projects, programmes and public policies, but from an approach that is more adjusted to local realities and priorities.
This first session was just the beginning of a series of events being prepared by the UN-REDD Programme for 2023 and beyond. Some of the topics to be addressed will be:
- Improvements and updates to the SIS and Safeguards Information Summary processes, in line with UNFCCC requirements;
- Integrated approaches to REDD+ finance and safeguards to promote integrity in the implementation of REDD+ activities;
- Gender-responsive REDD+;
- Safeguards requirements of specific funding sources (e.g. ART-TREES and LEAF);
- Others topics according to the interest of participants.
112 session minutes
This space aims to periodically bring together safeguards specialists from member countries and the UN-REDD Programme to share their experiences and lessons learned. This first session included the following presentations:
- Honduras: Malcolm Stufkens, Vice Minister of the Secretariat of Natural Resources and Environment (SERNA), who introduced the importance of safeguards for REDD+ in the country, and how integrated safeguards approaches can be an initiative that allows countries to take ownership of the safeguards implementation and reporting processes. In this framework, he highlighted the pioneering experience of the Safeguards+Honduras project, implemented in collaboration with UNEP and with resources from the Green Climate Fund. Likewise, Mariano Cirone and Roberto Portillo presented the main aspects of Safeguards+Honduras.
- Chile: On behalf of the National Forestry Corporation (CONAF), Gabriela Soto, Head of the Department of Climate Change and Ecosystem Services, and Daniel Contreras, Head of the Safeguards Section of the same department, gave a brief overview of Chile's National Safeguards Approach, emphasizing the development of the SIS indicators, which report to the "Crosscutting Safeguards Axes," a safeguards framework that integrates the Cancun Safeguards, the World Bank's Operational Policies, the Green Climate Fund safeguards, the UN REDD+ Guidelines and the FAO's Environmental and Social Standards.
- Paraguay: Venus Caballero and Fatima Garcia, from the safeguards team of "Paraguay+Verde," explained the process and tools developed for risk assessment and reporting of environmental and social safeguards, including a form based on a safeguards framework that integrates the Cancun Safeguards, the Green Climate Fund Safeguards and those of UNEP as an accredited entity.
For more information on the Regional Exchanges on REDD+ Safeguards and Integrity, please contact the UNEP team through Mariano Cirone at: email@example.com
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- Judith Walcott, LAC Regional Coordinator.
- Sofia Arocha, LAC KM and Communications Specialist.
- Mariano Cirone, UNEP Regional Safeguards Focal Point.