India’s REDD + Safeguards Project Needs Revision
- India released draft document on Safeguards Information System to Reduce Potential Risks in Implementing Activities under the United Nations Deforestation Emissions Reduction Program and degradation (REDD +), a key climate change mitigation tool.
- The draft document is in line with India’s commitment to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
- Experts note that safeguarding relies on policies, laws and rules for the use of forests and land that do not have a good track record in environmental justice and combating biodiversity loss. A more robust framework for assessing compliance is needed.
India’s draft mechanism for reporting on compliance with social and environmental safeguards to mitigate potential risks associated with the implementation of the United Nations program to reduce emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD + ), an essential tool for tackling climate change, relies on forestry and other land use policies to ensure REDD + actions are not used for the conversion of natural forests.
Posted on September 13, ahead of the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland, the draft Safeguards Information System for REDD + that will help verify whether REDD + is being done well, is missing bite due to the lack of a specific and robust impact assessment framework, according to experts.
The draft document released by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change is open for public comment until October 15.
The REDD + framework created by the Conference of the Parties (COP) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is also oriented towards the sustainable management of forests and the conservation and improvement of forest carbon stocks in forests. developing countries. The seven safeguards (called Cancun safeguards) set out in the Cancun Agreements in Cancun, Mexico, at the 2010 United Nations Climate Change Conference, must be addressed and respected when implementing REDD + activities in order to to prevent any negative impact of REDD + actions on forests, biological diversity and local communities.
According to the agreements, developing country parties to the UNFCCC, such as India, are required to establish a Safeguards Information System (SIS) to report on compliance with safeguards during the implementation of REDD + activities. India’s national REDD + strategy endorses adherence to Cancun safeguards during the implementation of REDD + activities, the draft document says. The strategy is also linked to India’s nationally determined contribution to create an additional 2.5-3 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent carbon sink through additional forest and tree cover by 2030.
India’s Cancun Principles-Compliant SIS Project emphasizes that actions complement or are consistent with the objectives of national forest programs and relevant international conventions and agreements, transparency and access to information, full participation and effectiveness of relevant stakeholders, in particular indigenous peoples and local communities; safeguards should address the risk of land use-based reversals, reduce displacement of emissions and ensure that actions are not used for conversion of natural forests.
The SIS project focuses on 20 indicators identified for collecting information / data on the care and compliance of safeguards during REDD + implementation.
Failure to comply with protective measures can have serious consequences for biodiversity and local communities
Since monitoring the social impacts of REDD + requires a long period of time using indicators and methods that allow the impacts to be tracked consistently and at regular intervals, the selection of indicators should be realistic and should be based on a framework. robust impact assessment, according to Indian Forest Service. (IFS) Officer Pushpendra Rana. Case studies from around the world have shown that if these safeguards are not properly taken into account, the consequences of REDD + actions can have negative impacts.
One such example comes from Indonesia where Rana and a co-author examined the impact of early REDD + activities in the context of REDD + social safeguards, for 18 projects in Kalimantan, using publicly available social and spatial data. Two of these guarantees aim to guarantee respect for rights (guarantee 3), social well-being and biodiversity (guarantee 5).
“A rigorous impact assessment requires baseline data, which must be included in any SIS mechanism to assess and monitor the progress of any forestry intervention and the associated social safeguards over time. This is especially true in India, where poor communities still depend to a large extent on forests for their livelihoods. “
“Any SIS mechanism must ensure that not only objectives relating to forest cover and biodiversity are met, but also that people’s livelihood needs are met and any deficiencies are adequately addressed. In addition, the indicators should be specific, measurable, time-bound and attributable, ”Rana, who works for the forest department of the northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh, told Mongabay-India.
For Indonesia, their baseline data is from 2008, the year of the launch of REDD + in the archipelago, while 2011 data was used to measure the first results of REDD + safeguard. The first REDD + interventions in Kalimantan may have a negative impact on human well-being, according to their study.
Warranties are based on policies, laws and regulations that do not have the best track record
The proposed SIS Mechanism builds on some of the major Indian forestry and land use policies, laws and regulations, such as the National Forest Policy, 1988, the National Environmental Policy, 2006, the Indian Land Use Act. forests, 1927, the Forest (Conservation) Act of 1980 (amended in 1988), National Agroforestry Policy, 2014, Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 (amended in 1993), Biological Diversity Act, 2002, Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 and Panchayat (Extension to Scheduled Areas)) Act, 1996. The scale of application is national, subnational and local.
However, the implementation of forestry and land use policies, laws and regulations in India has often been problematic for many reasons, including the failure to secure the rights of indigenous communities and dependent communities. forests on their lands and the fight against biodiversity loss.
For example, safeguarding to address risks of reversal of emission reductions, carbon sequestration actions, hydrological regimes, community livelihoods, biodiversity and other environmental and social benefits, relies on the Management and Planning Authority of the Compensatory Reforestation Fund (CAMPA) among other policy instruments to minimize the possibility of reversals of actions and benefits of REDD +, including carbon service, from either disturbance natural (for example, fire, disease, pests and unusual weather events) or any unwanted human action.
But a closer look at CAMPA, set up to streamline the management of offset afforestation funds, reveals gaps in its ability to compensate for lost old and carbon-rich forests. Experts told Mongabay-India earlier that the complex biodiversity of a forest can never be offset by a monoculture plantation.
“Bamboo is an important part of the forestry and agroforestry system in India. The mass flowering of bamboo and subsequent dieback events result in substantial loss of ecosystem carbon. How will this issue be handled in the SIS, ”asked Arun Jyoti Nath, associate professor of ecology and environmental sciences at the University of Assam, Silchar.
In addition, the concept of joint forest management introduced in 1990 for the participation of people in forest governance which would be crucial to ensure the participation of relevant stakeholders, such as indigenous peoples and local communities, has not reached many. desired goals.
“Several existing laws such as the Indian Forest Act of 1927 and the Forest (Conservation) Act of 1980 are under review. There is a need to create an appropriate SIS mechanism specific to the forest and community needs of India and a new collaborative, legal and technology-driven institutional mechanism would be more useful rather than relying on old or existing policies, laws and regulations, which on many occasions are at loggerheads rather than cohesion, ”said Rana.
“The safeguards information system must also give voice to local stakeholders, especially indigenous communities and other forest dependent communities. They must be able to share their perspectives for an inclusive system, ”concluded IFS Pushpendra Rana.
Banner image: Forest fires. Photo by Anoushka Trivedi / Wikimedia Commons