Safeguards and Safeguards Information System

Work by countries towards implementing REDD+ has the potential to deliver social and environmental benefits as well as emission reductions, but this work may also have negative social and environmental effect. It is therefore crucial to design and implement REDD+ actions to mitigate or avoid the risk of negative impacts and bring additional benefits. To this end, the UNFCCC has agreed, in REDD+ activities, a specific set of safeguards (known as “Cancun safeguards” – see box below) must be in place.  

To ensure safeguards are implemented, countries participating in the REDD+ process should develop a Safeguards Information System (SIS) to explain how these are being addressed and respected in REDD+ activities. As a prerequisite for obtaining results-based payments, countries should periodically submit to the UNFCCC a summary of information outlining their work with respect to the safeguards (UNFCCC Decision 12/CP.17 and UNFCCC Decision 12/CP.19).

FAO, in collaboration with other UN-REDD partner agencies, has supported the development of normative material that has helped several countries in preparing their national approach to safeguards. Direct technical assistance/cooperation with FAO and the UN-REDD programme has also helped countries advance towards the creation of SIS and preparation of summaries of information. FAO is also well placed to technically support the design and implementation of countries' systems. This has, in particular included the assessment and strengthening of information systems and sources, and the development of web portals or other technological platforms for disseminating safeguards information. Support may also be required on data- and information-sharing from a legal and institutional perspective.

The Cancun Safeguards 
When undertaking REDD+ activities, the following safeguards should be promoted and supported:

  • That actions complement or are consistent with the objectives of national forest programmes and relevant international conventions and agreements;
  • National forest governance structures are transparent and effective, taking into account national legislation and sovereignty;
  • Respect for the knowledge and rights of indigenous peoples and members of local communities, by taking into account relevant international obligations, national circumstances and laws, and noting that the United Nations General Assembly has adopted the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples;
  • The full and effective participation of relevant stakeholders, in particular indigenous peoples and local communities;
  • That actions are consistent with the conservation of natural forests and biological diversity, ensuring that [REDD+] actions are not used for the conversion of natural forests, but are instead used to incentivize the protection and conservation of natural forests and their ecosystem services, and to enhance other social and environmental benefits;
  • Actions to address the risks of reversals;
  • Actions to reduce displacement of emissions.

Source: UNFCCC