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Safeguarding forests and people: a framework for designing a national system to implement REDD+ safeguards

This report provides a framework for the national implementation of REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation) safeguards. These safeguards are needed to ensure effective implementation of REDD+ so that it does not inadvertently harm communities and ecosystems. The framework provides a roadmap for navigating some of the choices that will arise in REDD+ design and implementation.

After providing context and definitions, the report explains the unique nature of the UNFCCC REDD+ safeguards. Consisting of only broad substantive and procedural goals, they remain flexible in terms of methodology and minimum requirements. This allows countries to take new, culturally-sensitive approaches with their own national safeguard systems. The remainder of the report is then split into three sections relating to the creation of a national system: goals, functions, and rules and institutions.

The report defines national REDD+ goals, with one suggestion being safeguards to provide a floor, below which protection for people and the environment cannot fall. The functions of the REDD+ safeguards regard the processes by which goals are achieved. Functions of a national system should cover anticipating risks, planning to avoid or mitigate risks and maximise opportunities, managing implementation, monitoring, and responding to positive and negative outcomes. The process of assessing, improving and creating rules and institutions is discussed. The report offers advice on the types of rules available and notes the need for all institutions involved to be transparent, participatory and accountable.

Throughout the report, examples are highlighted from efforts to create and implement national REDD+ safeguard systems in Brazil, Indonesia and Mexico. Examples of civil society groups and communities participating in the formulation and implementation of safeguard principles are presented, as well as the various legislation efforts. The process for achieving representative institutions in these countries is complicated and has seen mixed results. The lesson from this is the need to systematically ensure full representation of the most vulnerable voices.