An elephant taking a bath in zambia (Photo by Nicole Olwagen)
African countries continue to make progress on REDD+ safeguards, with Zambia being the first in the region to submit a summary of information to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. This is a milestone achievement for Zambia and for Africa, and it is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to regional safeguards efforts in recent months.
Côte d'Ivoire has also drafted a first summary of safeguards information to be submitted to the UNFCCC once the formal government approval process has been concluded. Other countries in the region making progress with safeguards information systems that will inform future submissions include Ghana and Liberia, which already have online portals. Côte d'Ivoire, Ethiopia, Madagascar and Zambia have designed their safeguards information systems and are working towards getting operational and online, while Kenya, Nigeria and Uganda are in the process of designing their national information systems.
The process to develop Zambia’s first summary of safeguards information was coordinated by the National Safeguards Technical Working Group, a multi-stakeholder platform engaging key government agencies, civil society organizations, academia, private sector and existing on-the-ground REDD+ projects. The working group drew on emerging good practices in REDD+ safeguards reporting from the handful of countries that have already submitted summaries to the UNFCCC. In doing so, Zambia profited from a much shorter process to produce their first summary. It took them four months, including stakeholder consultations, compared to more than a year in some other countries.
A meeting of the National Safeguards Technical Working Group of Zambia
The process of pulling together a formal submission on REDD+ safeguards served a wider purpose. It made clear the urgent need to meet the other safeguards requirements for REDD+, namely putting a national-level information system in place and, most importantly, ensuring the safeguards are addressed and respected throughout the implementation of REDD+. Reporting on safeguards for the first time also gave the national working group an opportunity to consolidate and demonstrate their value as a one-stop shop for all things REDD+ safeguards in Zambia.
The group has their work cut out for them moving forward. After drafting a first summary of information, the working group must now capitalize on the critical mass and energy achieved thus far to support government in:
a) making sure a safeguards information system is in place within the next 12 months;
b) ensuring adequate institutional mandates, procedures and capacities are in place to address and respect the safeguards; and,
c) drafting a second summary of information that captures the country’s safeguards performance whilst achieving REDD+ carbon results.
If this momentum in safeguards and other areas of REDD+ implementation can be maintained, perhaps Zambia will be the next African country in line, after the Democratic Republic of Congo and Mozambique, to receive payments for REDD+ results.
For more information on REDD+ summaries of information and safeguards information systems:
UN Environment’s Steve Swan coordinates safeguards activities of the UN-REDD Programme and directly supports countries in meeting their safeguards commitments.