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“Honest engagement”: The need for transparency and civil society participation in REDD

Honest Engagement“, a December 2008 briefing by London-based NGO Global Witness, points out the central importance of transparency and participation in REDD schemes. The briefing notes that “Almost all previous attempts to reform the forest sector have failed when these basic principles have been ignored in decision-making.”

The briefing gives examples of both bad (Forest Carbon Partnership Facility and PNG) and good (Peru) practices, and explains what lessons can be learned from both the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative and the EU-Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade process. The briefing also sets out some “minimum requirements” for both transparency and participation.

The full briefing, “Honest Engagement: Transparency and Civil Society Participation in REDD”, is available here (pdf, 2.1 Mb).

Global Witness contrasts the minimal consultation in the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Facility with the participation of civil society in the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative:

The World Bank FCPF – how not to do it?

Two “readiness” schemes are underway to prepare countries for REDD – the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF), with $300 million available for participating countries, and UN-REDD, a joint programme of FAO, UNDP and UNEP. To date, UN-REDD has proved to be the more transparent and inclusive of the two programmes, inviting a range of stakeholders to its first meeting in September 2008 and providing for web-based comment on its roadmap for REDD monitoring and verification. The FCPF process, in contrast, has been characterised by its opacity and lack of opportunities for meaningful consultation.
The World Bank launched the FCPF in Bali in December 2007, ignoring widespread controversy and a request to delay the process pending public consultation.[1] Instead it forged ahead with approving ‘Readiness Plan Idea Notes’ (R-PINs) for countries willing to participate, based on an application process that appears to be little more than a formality. Many of the approved R-PINs received low overall scores from an external Technical Advisory Panel[2] that raised serious questions about ownership of the proposals by governments and stakeholders. The majority of the R-PINs were written and financed in part by big international NGOs or consulting firms with close ties to the timber industry. In many cases, there was little or no consultation with forest-dependent peoples or the wider NGO community; moreover, R-PINs were not made publicly available until after the selection process. Nevertheless, 25 out of 28 R-PINS have been approved with a final selection round scheduled for March 2009. Approved countries will receive a grant to finance the development of ‘Readiness Plans’ (R-Plans), or more detailed national strategies for REDD.
In early 2008, the Bank came under fire for its “near-total lack of consultation with the peoples most likely to be directly affected”.[3] Since then, consultation with indigenous groups has been prioritized and some funds are being made available for REDD capacity building among indigenous peoples. The R-Plan process requires the design of a ‘Consultation and Outreach Plan’ and is now subject to Bank operational safeguards. However, serious doubts remain about whether these retroactively negotiated measures represent good faith efforts by the World Bank and participating governments, and if they will pave the way for a genuinely inclusive and transparent process.


[1] NGO Statement on the World Bank’s proposed Forest Carbon Partnership Facility, November 2007.

[2] The TAP consists of 19 independent experts selected by the World Bank from a pool of 45 nominees to review R-PINS, see “FCPF 2nd Ad Hoc Technical Advisory Panel: Review of 14 Country R-PINS“, presented at the Ad Hoc Technical Advisory Panel Meeting, 19-Oct-2008.

[3] Forest Peoples Programme, ‘Facilitating the weakening of indigenous peoples’ rights to lands and resources‘, 2008.

The EITI – how to do it?

Extractive industries are about money. The revenues created are enormous and mismanagement of potential windfalls is a real danger. Consequently, there is widespread agreement on the need for transparency and independent oversight.
The EITI is a coalition of governments, companies, civil society, investors and international organizations which aims to strengthen governance by improving transparency and accountability in the extractives sector (oil, gas and minerals).[4] To date, 23 countries have signed up, many of them REDD candidates. To achieve its objectives, the coalition has developed methodology for monitoring and reconciling company payments and government revenues. Civil society participation, not just consultation, was a feature from the outset. This proved important in setting the tone for a constructive relationship.
Implementation takes place at national level, with the EITI Board and International Secretariat overseeing the process. Civil society groups participate directly (they have a seat on the Board) and through ‘Publish What You Pay’ (PWYP), a coalition of over 350 NGOs in 50 countries. There is a process of self-selection and representation from amongst the NGO community through PWYP, preventing governments from hand-picking participant NGOs.

EITI Validation

To achieve EITI compliant status a country must complete an EITI Validation. Validation is an essential element of the EITI global standard, providing an independent assessment of the progress achieved, and identifying the measures needed to strengthen the EITI process. It is carried out by an independent Validator selected and overseen by the multi-stakeholder group using methodology set out in the EITI Validation Guide. Once a country is compliant it must undergo validation at least every 5 years, or on request from the Board.

Multi-stakeholder participation in the EITI

  • Civil society groups from the South (where most resources are) and the North (where most investment comes from) have a seat on the EITI Board along with implementing country governments, extractive companies, investors, and supporting country governments.
  • A candidate country must commit to working with all stakeholders. A national multi-stakeholder group must be established, and a work plan published, documenting how the country intends to achieve EITI compliance. The plan must be discussed with, and agreed by, key stakeholders.
  • Civil society must play an active role in the process, both operationally and in policy terms, independent of other stakeholders; must continue to monitor and evaluate the process after its inception; and must be free to voice its independent opinion without fear of reprisals.
  • The government must address capacity constraints of civil society organisations and be seen to help and communicate with civil society and other stakeholders through regular meetings and media outreach.
  • The multi-stakeholder group selects the independent Validator and oversees the Validation Process.

There has been a general recognition amongst the EITI coalition that civil society’s involvement has been effective not just in raising transparency levels but at promoting discussion of data disclosure and its implications, and building trust between stakeholders in an area that, similar to the forest sector, has historically featured relatively adversarial relationships.

Liberia’s EITI includes forests

Following intense lobbying by the Liberian PWYP NGOs, in May 2007 the Government of Liberia announced that forestry would be included as one of the sectors covered by the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative in Liberia (LEITI).[5] To date, Liberia is the only EITI implementing country to include forestry in its scope.



[5] Policy Note on Implementation of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative in Liberia (LEITA), issued 7-May-2007 by the Republic of Liberia.

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