Mainstreaming Gender in REDD: Beyond Livelihoods to Identity

By Regan Suzuki, REDD-Net Asia Pacific Coordinator

Experience from Nepal shows women value forest resources, but taking part in public meetings on REDD provides a democratic space for engagement that enhances their sense of identity

Haven’t we been talking about gender and the need to mainstream it for decades?  Why then does it seem to re-emerge every time a new ‘development’ or international issue (such as climate change) makes it into the spotlight? More to the point, what about gender in the context of climate change could possibly be new?

While climate change negotiations have breathed new life into efforts to improve women’s conditions around the world, the reality remains: if the push to mainstream gender over the last decade had succeeded, we wouldn’t need to be having these discussions now. If mainstreaming efforts thus far have fallen short of ambitions, what makes us think we will be any more successful under the rubric of climate change and REDD+?

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Breaking bredd at Durban’s Forest Day 5

They say you haven’t been to the COP if you haven’t been to Forests Day, a feeling shared by the 1000+ people who descended on the Olive Convention Centre this Sunday. The frantic excitement surrounding the day explains why our booth had already been picked clean of FPIC guidance manuals and briefing papers by eager punters – before we had even turned up!

‘Landscapes’, ‘agriculture’ and ‘food security’ were the buzz-words of the day – and rightly so in a continent where most of the forest is located in dryland agricultural areas.  In the opening plenary, Tina Joematt-Petterson, the Minister of Environment for South Africa, proclaimed “agriculture is critical to REDD+.”

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Climate change adaptation and mitigation: harnessing local capacities

Durban, South Africa, 5 December, 2011: Storms and typhoons are battering the community of Da Loc in coastal Vietnam on an increasingly frequent and intense basis. In 2005, Typhoon Damrey forced some 330,000 evacuees from their homes in Vietnam alone, with regional damages resulting at US$1.2 billion.

Almost seven years later Da Loc commune continues to suffer the impacts of the saltwater Damrey swept several kilometers inland, destroying rice fields and seeping into fresh water wells.  In the wake of this disaster one thing was clear: those areas that had been buffered by mangrove forests were left relatively unscathed. Those that did not continue to experience the repercussions.

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REDD+ developers hesitant to talk carbon to local communities, experts say

This article was originally posted on CIFOR Forests Blog on 2 December, 2011 by Leony Aurora.

DURBAN, South Africa (2 December, 2011)_Many REDD+ developers are hesitant to inform local communities about the global forest carbon scheme to avoid raising expectations that could not be fulfilled if long-term financing fails to materialise, experts said.

The tendency from developers to hold off on carbon information is understandable considering the “stuttering” of a decision on whether there will be REDD+ financing in the future, said Jim Stephenson, Program Officer at the Center for People and Forests (RECOFTC) at an event held as part of the UN climate summit in Durban.

Still, “if you don’t mention REDD+, how can you carry out full FPIC activity?” he said, referring to free, prior and informed consent from local communities.

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Safeguarding Safeguards: How do we ensure REDD+ safeguards work for local people?

As my colleague Jim noted, the REDD+ debate is now in full swing in Durban with a range of side events, a number of presentations, and many engaging discussions outside the side event rooms. One of the much-debated issues has been around REDD+ social and environmental safeguards.

Subsequent to the Cancun Agreement, a number of multilateral and bilateral initiatives have developed various sets of provisions for promoting social and environmental safeguards in REDD+. However, discussions in Durban so far clearly reflect the contentious nature and practical challenges of implementing and monitoring the safeguards on the ground. A sense of complexity has emerged particularly around how social and environmental safeguards can be contextualized at the national level. Of concern is how to respect socio-culture values and ensure the livelihoods of forest dependent communities while harmonizing the many different sets of standards, principles, and criteria for safeguards developed under these various initiatives.

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Killing the golden goose: of tar sands and Kyoto

Hillary Clinton is en route for the first United States diplomatic mission to Burma in 50 years. Texan congressmen advocate offering olive branches to Iran. The age of the isolated pariah state has passed.  Or has it? Within international climate change circles at least, Canada seems most keen to make a name for itself – no longer simply as an uncooperative party to climate change discussions, but as an increasingly trenchant obstructer to a range of social and environmentally inclined international negotiations.

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REDD+ Debates in Full Swing at Durban

Jim Stephenson, RECOFTC Program Officer for People, Forests, and Climate Change, provides some highlights from the first few sessions at COP17 in Durban.

COP17 in Durban is now in full swing – as are the discussions on REDD+, which are set to produce results by Saturday. The Norwegian delegation announced at a packed contact meeting yesterday that they had “already been for a jog this morning and had a double espresso” which is just as well given that the REDD+ negotiators will be up night and day to have text agreed by Saturday.

This should give the REDD+ crowd plenty to chew over by the morning of Forests Day on Sunday, and following on from my last post this means my Sunday morning speak will be more REDD+ finance, reference emission levels, and safeguards, rather than my usual caveman mono-syllables.

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Forest communities hold the key for every form of REDD+ finance

Arriving on a stormy Durban Sunday I dropped in on the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED)’s ‘REDD+ poverty reduction and sustainable development’ workshop, where the theme of the day was ‘cost-effective REDD+ pro-poor options’. An impressive number of people turned down their Sunday morning lie-ins to attend – can’t say I usually find myself talking social safeguard information systems before 8:00am!

Despite the jet-lagged haze, a recurring message came through to me clearly: whichever way you finance REDD+, local people will always make or break it.

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Building the capacity of grassroots communities is the foundation for success in REDD+

The past year between COP16 in Cancun and COP17 in Durban has seen a number of initiatives and developments at the global level in taking forward one of the key outcomes of Cancun Agreement – advancing the social and environmental safeguards related to REDD+. Entering into the fifth year of REDD+ negotiations in Durban (seventh if we consider the very first proposals in 2005), a number of fundamental issues have yet to be addressed for developing and implementing an effective REDD+ mechanism.

RECOFTC is currently implementing a REDD+ capacity building program for grassroots stakeholders, project implementers and community based organizations in Indonesia, Lao PDR, Nepal and Viet Nam. Along the way, we’ve encountered a number of challenges that will need to be addressed under the REDD+ mechanism, or forested countries will continue to struggle to develop a widely accepted and inclusive approach for tackling deforestation.

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Going into Durban: Are we sugar coating the science?

On my flight to Durban, to attend the final COP before the (current period) Kyoto Protocol expires, I shared a cappuccino and a conversation with a NASA climate modeling scientist. Asked his views on how the climate change science tallies with the discussions taking place at the UNFCCC, he was blunt: “Things are going to be much worse than what the International Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) reports are forecasting.”

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