Forestry Commission

Front view of Forestry Commission's Corporate Office showing an Aviary.

Published: Saturday, 25 June 2016

Safeguards and Co-benefits

There is no formally agreed definition of ‘safeguards’. The term has been used by multilateral financial institutions such as the World Bank to refer to measures or policies that guard against undue harm from investment or development activities – known as a ‘risk-based approach’. In contrast, safeguards related to REDD+ within UNFCCC COP decisions aim to prevent REDD+ activities from causing harm to biodiversity and people, and also help REDD+ realise multiple benefits, beyond simply emission reductions. This appears to follow a ‘rights-based approach’ to safeguards, prioritising the protection of the individual rights of those potentially affected by a REDD+ initiative.

 For example, safeguards that require respecting land tenure rights of local communities will not only improve the success of REDD+ implementation, but could also deliver significant economic benefits. Tenure security could help to engage and include communities in the design, implementation and monitoring of REDD+ projects, minimising the risk of future land disputes and reducing the risk to investors engaging in REDD+ initiatives. Adequate safeguards could ensure that the implementation of REDD+ can contribute to other national priorities such as poverty reduction and sustainable development.

 In Ghana, the Readiness Preparation Proposal (R-PP) identifies that a Strategic Environmental and Social Assessment (SESA) will be implemented to quantify the risks and benefits of REDD+ implementation in Ghana. The results of the SESA will inform the design of the National REDD+ Strategy to instill acceptable safeguards for the mitigation of negative social or environmental impacts (FORESTRY COMMISSION, 2010a).

The Terms of Reference (ToRs) for the SESA have been prepared and included in the R-PP to promote due diligence; to identify the institutional arrangements and governance needed for the implementation of the REDD+ Readiness strategy; to identify the likely socio-economic and environmental risks associated with REDD+ strategies/policies; to outline possible mitigation options; to assess the potential additional benefits of REDD+ (especially biodiversity conservation and poverty alleviation); and to inform the design of the National REDD+ Strategy, so that it avoids or mitigates negative social/environmental impacts and encourages positive ones. In July, 2012, Expressions of Interest (EOI) on five thematic ToRs were advertised to engage prospective consulting firms for these assignments namely; SESA, MRV, REL, Strategic Options, Benefit Sharing and Conflict Resolution (FORESTRY COMMISSION, 2013). A consultant has consequently been selected for undertaking the assignment on the SESA and the contract is about to be signed as at the mid-September, 2013 (KWAKYE, personal communication). Similarly, Ghana is also committed to ensuring the establishment of social safeguards under its Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) of the Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT) process (WAGENINGEN, 2010).

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