Working Group on Safeguards and Integrity of the UN-REDD Programme in Latin America and the Caribbean
Updates and improvements to the Safeguards Information System (SIS): lessons learned and challenges in Ecuador
The second session of the UN-REDD Programme's Safeguards and Integrity Working Group for Latin America and the Caribbean (WG) on Thursday 07 September 2023 was aimed at addressing how to improve SISs in the REDD+ implementation phase. To this end, the Ministry of Environment, Water and Ecological Transition of Ecuador presented the lessons learned and challenges resulting from the process the country is undertaking to update its SIS.
A SIS can be defined as a set of processes, institutional arrangements and tools organized to report on how a given country or jurisdiction is addressing and respecting the Cancun and other safeguards, as appropriate, during the design and implementation of REDD+.
It should be noted that, according to the Warsaw REDD+ Framework, the SIS is a requirement for accessing REDD+ results-based payments in the context of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
Judith Walcott, UNEP LAC Team Coordinator for the UN-REDD Programme in Latin America, in her welcome speech highlighted the importance of SIS for the environmental and social integrity of REDD+, a core aspect at present, as well as the challenge for governments to move from the design to the implementation of SIS. Judith Walcott also highlighted the efforts and progress made in the region in terms of safeguards and SIS, highlighting the fruitful work done by the countries with the UN-REDD Programme during the readiness stage, which today most of them have passed by developing the four pillars of REDD+ (strategy/action plan, NREF, MRV and SIS).
Mariano Cirone, UNEP LAC safeguards focal point for the UN-REDD Programme, then gave a conceptual introduction on SIS, the general guidelines of the UNFCCC and a general characterization of the SIS in the region and the identification of some common challenges for their good performance, in light of the latest trends in REDD+ implementation.
The main presentation of this Session 3 of the WG was given by special guest Rodrigo Torres, from UNDP Ecuador and representing the REDD+ focal point in the country, the Undersecretariat of Climate Change of the Ministry of Environment, Water and Ecological Transition of Ecuador (MAATE).
UNEP, UN-REDD Programme
- Most countries in the LAC region have a SIS among their REDD+ pillars, but in many cases these are in their initial version, based on a design document;
Among the main challenges of the SISs, the following can be highlighted:
Moving from design to implementation, adjusting procedures, tools (e.g. indicators), sources of information and others, according to the needs of practice;
Improving inter-agency coordination for SIS information flow and reporting;
Facilitate the capture and reporting of safeguards information generated by key project technicians with REDD+ activities on the ground;
Avoid duplication of efforts and maintain consistency in reporting at different levels of REDD+ implementation, considering nested approaches, programmes and projects;
Ensure the necessary financial resources for the operation and updating of the SIS.
- Ecuador's SIS functions as a module of the REDD+ Measures and Actions Management System (SIGMA REDD+), which is the platform that collects all the information related to the implementation plans of the national strategy. This ensures national ownership of the SIS and its integration into the REDD+ strategy;
- The system involves implementing partners and strategic partners, who are involved in the implementation of REDD+ implementation plans and are obliged to report to the SIS;
- The SIS has a gender-specific sub-module to ensure gender-relevant reporting;
- The SIS has an internal management platform that compiles all information and reports it in real time throughout the year and in a simplified way on a freely accessible web portal, based on national indicators;
- They have an online training module on safeguards and SIS for the induction of the different actors.
"In many cases the development of SIS and national approaches to REDD+ was left to a final step of the Warsaw REDD+ Framework development process (...) And in many cases these developed SIS are more of a way of reporting on the approach and respect of safeguards but linking information on REDD+ activity on the ground with sub-national or national reporting systems creates significant challenges".
UNEP LAC, UN-REDD Programme
"In Ecuador, reporting to the SIS is an obligation for the different implementing and strategic partners, as expressly established in the Ministerial Agreement 116. When designing a SIS, it is fundamental to use the government's own systems and platforms and incorporate the SIS into them, in order to avoid the use of programming languages that are alien to the installed capacities, increase maintenance and other costs, which could later affect its sustainability over time (...)".
UNDP Ecuador, MAATE
Opportunities, challenges and conclusions
- Among the main challenges for the operation of the SIS, technical aspects of programming were mentioned, such as the complexity and understanding of the subject matter by information providers and system operators and the updating of software; also incorporating geographic information material, internalising processes and other related issues;
- Also highlighted among the challenges was how to ensure access to information for peoples and nationalities in their local languages, through different means;
- Lorena Acosta, systems expert at MAATE, pointed out that the SIS is currently in the pilot stage and undergoing quality evaluation by the Ministry itself. By the end of the year, this stage is expected to be completed and a version 2 of the SIS will be implemented;
- Simplifying the national interpretation of safeguards with simple guiding questions and pre-established forms for each of the safeguards was an initiative that greatly improved the understanding of the different partners involved on how to report.
Paola Quiroga, from the REM II Colombia Programme, Visión Amazonía, pointed out the challenge posed by the voluntary forest carbon market, in order to be able to report information to the national SIS. It was highlighted that Ecuador does not participate in this type of REDD+ approach due to constitutional restrictions;
Mariano Cirone, highlighted that one of the challenges for the coming years is to define how to integrate the SIS operating at the different levels of REDD+ (national, subnational, programmes and projects), in a nesting framework, beyond the sources of funding or ways of implementing REDD+ (payments for results, carbon markets, etc.).
Fátima García, from the Paraguay+ Verde Project, highlighted Ecuador's great advantage in having a regulation that expressly requires reporting on safeguards;
Rodrigo Torres highlighted the importance of carrying out an internal process to identify and enable pre-existing REDD+ programmes and policies, such as Socio-Bosque in Ecuador, to report to the SIS in an efficient way. The same is required at the sub-national level;
Ana París, from FAO Chile, highlighted that Chile is also working on the SIS, but focused on how to report to donors in a unified and efficient way, based on cross-cutting safeguards (see Chile's integrated approach to safeguards presented in Session 1 of this WG here). It was highlighted that in Ecuador's SIS there are several safeguards frameworks to report to, specially: UNDP, GEF, GCF and Cancun Safeguards. Therefore, Ecuador's SIS was structured based on the National Scope of Safeguards and to report based on the environmental and social management system of the national REDD+ strategy, with a focus on gender, interculturality, transparency and others.
Rebecca Rivera, from UNDP Costa Rica, highlighted the particularity of Ecuador's SIS in establishing a specific gender module, and not in a cross-cutting manner in the other thematic safeguards of the SIS. It was emphasized that this was a proposal to ensure the visibility of the issue. A very interesting point that could be addressed especially in another session of this Working Group.
Given the importance of the topic addressed and the interest expressed by the members of this Working Group, next month's session 3 will also be dedicated to SIS improvements, for which we will have the presentation of the Costa Rican SIS.
Registers and impact:
3 UN Agencies
90 Session minutes
For more information on this UN-REDD Programme's Safeguards and Integrity Working Group in Latin America and the Caribbean, please contact the UNEP team through Mariano Cirone at: email@example.com