Untangling terminology: the importance of equity for REDD+

This article was written by a social reporter. It has not been edited by the Forum organisers or partners, and represents the opinion of the individual author only.

Equity is a broad term, and can sound like a tall order to fill for initiatives seeking to help communities mitigate and adapt to climate change. It includes land tenure, adequate benefit sharing, equal participation of all stakeholders, distribution of social benefits, open access to information, access to justice, and the protection of the rights of all stakeholders.

On the second day of the Global Landscapes Forum, the largest side-event to the UNFCCC COP 21 in Paris, the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) discussed their work on a three dimensional equity framework for the REDD+ initiative (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation).

Phil Franks, Senior Researcher with IIED, explained to the participants of the Global Landscapes Forum that their framework consists of three principles: recognition (of rights, knowledge and institutions), procedure (which requires inclusive decision-making processes) and distribution (of benefits and costs)..

The IIED made two researches on implementing Equity framework; in Yucatan, Mexico in 2014, and in San Martin and Lima in Peru in 2015.

They wanted to learn how equity is addressed in REDD+ processes and how it could be strengthened in REDD+ processes nationally and regionally.

In Peru’s and Mexico’s national policies and their REDD+ strategies equity is addressed, and that includes active participation, recognition of land tenure rights and recognition and respect of indigenous peoples’ rights.

Through this process, they discovered that in REDD+ project implementation, the recognition of all three dimensions of equity are equally crucial for success, and that REDD+ initiatives should always focus on land security, fair land tenure and fair participation of all stakeholders, including those without formal tenure rights.

There is also a need to include women, elders and youth in the project implementation process. In some cases women, youths and elders may not be informed of or have access to community meetings in which decisions on implementation are made. Additionally, those women and youths that can and do attend meetings rarely get involved in discussions, or they risk their ideas and opinions not being taken into consideration.

IIED suggests ten building blocks for equitable REDD+ programs. This includes recognising stakeholders’ group characteristics, stakeholders’ rights to ensure active participation, designing and implementing community monitoring.

WWF Peru presented Dedicated Grant Mechanism (DGM) for Indigenous Peoples and local communities. Developed and designed by indigenous people and local communities and funded by the Forest Investment Program, the mechanism aims to enhance Indigenous and local people’s capacity and to support initiatives to strengthen their participating in REDD+.

The aim of DGM in Peru is to empower local communities in the Peruvian Amazon, and over the next five years of implementation WWF Peru expects to gain recognition of 310 communities in the Amazon.

This comes at a crucial time for the Peruvian Amazon. Deforestation rates are increasing, especially in those areas lacking officially recognized tenure—which in Peru amounts to 20 millions of ha of land.

REDD+ could bring opportunities to build governance, bring Indigenous Peoples to the same table with government bodies, and reduce deforestation. IIED and their partners are working hard to see the program move forward—but it is time-sensitive. The time for equitable implementation cannot come soon enough.