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REDD safeguards: Response (or lack of one) from the REDD+ Safeguards Working Group

2015-06-29-220111_1242x1018_scrotOn 10 June 2015, REDD-Monitor sent 10 questions about REDD safeguards to five experts on the subject. The responses will be included in a report that I’m currently working on about REDD safeguards. So far, I have received only one response to the questions, from Maria Brockhaus and Amy Duchelle at CIFOR.

One of the groups that I sent the questions to was the REDD+ Safeguards Working Group. On its website the REDD+ Safeguards Working Group explains that it is a group of “41 organisations and individuals and is facilitated by the Ateneo School of Government in Manila”.

Members of the RSWG include (among others) Greenpeace, Aliansi Masyarakat Adat Nusantara (AMAN – Indigenous Peoples Alliance of the Archipelago-Indonesia), Tebtebba, Rainforest Foundation Norway, Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP), Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA-US), Ateneo School of Government (ASoG), Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation, and Birdlife International.

I sent the questions to Purple Romero (mainly because her name appears on RSWG press releases, and because she wrote a recent piece for CIFOR’s Forest News Blog praising the REDD safeguards). Romero replied quickly and suggested it might be more appropriate to send the questions to Rosalind Reeve, “a member of the RSWG who’s been working on issues surrounding REDD+ safeguards since Cancun”.

Here’s a photograph of Reeve in Warsaw at COP19 with a group of government negotiators. The photograph is from the RSWG website and the caption clearly states that Reeve represents the REDD+ Safeguards Working Group:


(Incidentally, I have no idea why anyone in their right mind would celebrate the “decision” on REDD finance that was agreed in Warsaw.)

Following the REDD deal agreed in Bonn last month, journalists from Reuters and Deutsche Welle quoted Rosalind Reeve, “of the Ateneo School of Government in Manila”. Reeve was reported as saying that Brazil had supported a quick agreement, and that by finalising the text now, “it is easier then to embed [REDD] into the (new climate) agreement”.

The journalists also reported Reeve as saying that “it was up to civil society groups to make sure that governments with REDD+ programs were fulfilling their obligations”. This is one of the aspects of REDD safeguards that worries me. The UN-REDD programme estimates that US$30 billion a year is needed for REDD – yet checking whether safeguards are met is going to be “up to civil society groups”.

When REDD-Monitor sent the 10 questions to Reeve, she replied,

I think this is above my “pay grade” as they say since it will be on the record.

However, she suggested that a joint response from the REDD+ Safeguards Working Group and the Ateneo School of Government might be a possibility. I replied that this would be fine and Reeve told me she would get back to me.

On his Facebook page, Tony La Vina, the Dean of the Ateneo School of Government, commented as follows on the Bonn REDD deal:


I disagree with La Vina’s claim that this is a human rights agreement. The words “national circumstances”, “respective capabilities”, “national sovereignty and legislation”, and “stepwise approach” all appear in the Bonn text on REDD safeguards. Needless to say, these words are not part of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights.

(For a line by line analysis of what’s wrong with the UNFCCC texts on REDD safeguards, click here and here.)

Two weeks after sending the 10 questions to Reeve, and having heard nothing further from her, I sent a reminder. Don Lehr, President of the New York-based communications consultancy the Nolan/Lehr Group, Inc., replied:

[I]t was concluded that crafting a response to your questions under the auspices of the entire REDD+ Safeguards Working Group would just not be feasible.

I can understand that it’s difficult to coordinate a response among the 41 members of the RSWG. Nevertheless, I’m disappointed. Surely a network of NGOs working on REDD safeguards must have considered the type of questions I’m asking – particularly when the network puts out regular press statements about UNFCCC REDD negotiations.

In his response, Don Lehr points out that,

“We have … distributed your URL and questions to the full RSWG mailing list and asked our members to respond in their individual or organizational capacity”.

While any responses will now be too late for the report that I’m working on about REDD safeguards, I look forward to receiving replies to the 10 questions from the members of the RSWG. I will post any responses I receive (in full and unedited) on REDD-Monitor.

Leave a Reply

  1. How do Principles, Criteria and Indicators link in with the Cancun Safeguards?

  2. Wish to be updated on the latest events with regards to April Salumei REDD+ pilot project at the international scene.
    Please advice us also on our right for safeguards as applicable for REDD+ mechanism and our carbon units benefit sharing options.
    Thanks, while we await your valued advice
    Manu Garabi

  3. I quite agree with your idea but financcial rights and benefits sharing of community forest dwellers is not favourable.

  4. I,m a forester working with Forestry Commission Calabar -Nigeria. the carbon pools in my state are not well assess and quantify,on that note we needed expertriat assistance to actually ascertain the quantity of carbon we have in our forest.