EDF’s REDD intern Martina Car contributed to this post.
While EDF welcomed the agreement among 50 countries to collaborate in the global effort to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) established during May’s Oslo Climate Conference, the REDD+ Partnership got off to a disappointing start this week after deeply inadequate steps were taken to include stakeholders in the Brazil meeting.
The REDD+ Partnership meetings are intended to bring together governments, private sector and civil society groups – including indigenous peoples and non-governmental organizations – to make important decisions about the world’s forests.
However, the Partnership, co-chaired by Japan and Papua New Guinea, waited until one week before its first-ever meeting to invite civil society groups. Given the short amount of time to make travel arrangements and jointly strategize on policy recommendations, representatives from wide-ranging sectors of civil society – especially delegates from developing nations and spokesmen from indigenous communities – found it impossible to attend the meeting.
Too little notice is “unacceptable”
In response to this failure to include stakeholders in the important REDD decision-making process, NGOs across the political spectrum sent letters of protest to the chairs of the Partnership; thirty-six NGOs boycotted the meeting altogether.
EDF joined a number of other environmental groups to express concern about the way civil society had been excluded. In a letter to the participants in the REDD+ Partnership, environmental groups wrote:
We… find the arrangements for this meeting to be inconsistent with the goals of the Partnership, in particular its stated principle to ‘be inclusive of all committed countries as well as representatives of relevant stakeholders including indigenous peoples, local communities, civil society and the private sector.’ The process for engaging stakeholders in the [Brazil] meeting is unacceptable.
The groups also urged governments to postpone any decisions until there is a legitimate and workable consultation process in place.
Transparency and coordination crucial for next meeting
Though the first meeting of REDD+ Partnership may have been “a serious false start,” as some NGOs have said, it has also been an opportunity for Partnership organizers to learn an important lesson, making way for a more transparent and coordinated process for civil society’s engagement in future talks. This serious consultative flaw must be fixed for the next meeting.