The basis for the seven safeguards defined for REDD+ (Reduction of Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) is to avoid social and environmental risks and to promote benefits. In this context, the safeguards information system (SIS) is a requirement associated with REDD+ under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Several countries have developed a SIS, including some Latin American countries.
To exchange experiences on the design and implementation of the SIS, representatives from five countries, including Chile, Costa Rica, Mexico, Paraguay and Ecuador, met in 2019. Hosted by Ecuador, the exchange also included Ecuadorian governmental and civil society institutions. The event made it possible to identify progress in the region, as well as challenges and lessons learned in relation to the collection, processing, analysis and reporting of information on safeguards.
Among the main challenges:
- define and agree on the scope of the SIS, especially the information it hosts, its procedures, how to report the information and evidence of addressing and respecting the safeguards, for example through indicators;
- institutionalize and achieve ownership of the system by authorities, technical teams and other stakeholders;
- train the technical team that manages the SIS and supports its operation, and plan actions for continuous capacity building;
- have the appropriate budget to address and respect the safeguards throughout the implementation of REDD+ and to report on this through the SIS; and,
- sustain and give continuity to the operation of the SIS.
During the event, some recommendations for the development of the SIS were identified:
- For what? Define the vision and objectives of the system, which contribute to priority national processes.
- For whom? Determine the audience, users and communication plan that allows for the appropriate presentation of information.
- What? Decide what type of information is required to report through the system.
- Who? Agree which institution leads the SIS and the collaboration that is required from other institutions for its management and for gathering information.
- How? Structure the information flow and the processes that allow for a simple, functional and efficient system.
The knowledge exchange highlighted some interesting findings from the SIS design and implementation processes in the region. Based on its Environmental and Social Management Framework, Chile is working on the construction of an automated SIS that allows reporting on addressing, respecting and compliance with safeguards. It plans the compilation of certain information, hosted in the databases of national systems, the incorporation of information from the local level and the determination of procedures for the system to function efficiently.
Costa Rica decided to incorporate its SIS as part of the National Environmental Information System (SINIA), which will include a safeguards module. It has worked on a proposal of safeguards indicators, which is being updated in order to have a simple and pragmatic report. This country wants the SIS to contribute to national planning processes.
Paraguay carried out some activities for the design of its SIS, including the establishment of a safeguards working group, the determination of sources of information, institutional arrangements and functions of the SIS. The country has a SIS website, and it will continue to develop the system’s platform that will be linked to the Environmental Information System (SIAM).
Ecuador has a form/template with specific questions that is used to collect information on safeguards from REDD+ implementing partners. The country, with the support of the PROAmazonia project, is working on the REDD+ measures and actions management system, which will have a safeguards module that will allow for online information registration, follow-up, disseminating information and strengthening the capacities of stakeholders.
Mexico has interesting experience in this area. A law sustains the existence and supports the operation of the SIS. The country has mechanisms for following-up on safeguards at the national and state level; also, its dynamic database allows stakeholders to access information. The SIS operation phase has included gradual improvements that strengthen communication about safeguards, and the compilation and analysis of information.
Héctor Arce of FONAFIFO, Costa Rica indicated that countries seek to have safeguards information systems that are “as simple, as intelligent, as robust, and as valuable for political decision making as possible.” His words emphasize the need to develop SISs that are useful and functional.
The event wrapped up with a proposal to create a community of practice for sharing experiences, promoting exchanges between experts and achieving coordination, in order to guide negotiations under the UNFCCC.
For more information about safeguards and SIS:
- Visit the resources on the UN-REDD Safeguards Technical page
- Learn about the progress of countries in the Safeguards Country Resources Hub
- Review the document REDD+ safeguards information systems: practical design considerations