Ghana: First Summary of Information on REDD+ Safeguards submitted to UNFCCC

Fuel wood collection in Ghana; Photo: SNV

Fuel wood collection in Ghana; Photo: SNV

Ghana’s first summary of information (SoI) on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+) safeguards to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) provides a comprehensive demonstration of how the country is addressing the so-called Cancun Safeguards and how it intends to respect and report on REDD+ safeguards using its functional  institutional framework. The submission of the SoI represents an important milestone for the country in terms of becoming eligible for results-based payments for REDD+ and unlocking investment in forest landscapes from global climate funds.

According to the UNFCCC decisions on REDD+, known collectively as the Warsaw Framework for REDD+ (or the ‘REDD+ rulebook’), eligibility to receive results-based payments for activities which reduce deforestation and forest degradation (including the conservation, sustainable management and enhancement of forests) is dependent on having four key readiness pillars in place, namely: 1) A National REDD+ Strategy or Action Plan; 2) A Forest Reference Level (FRL); 3) A National Forest Monitoring System (NFMS); and 4) A Safeguards Information System (SIS). Given environmental, social and governance concerns linked to REDD+ activities, parties to the UNFCCC also agreed that participating countries must ensure that REDD+ activities, regardless of the source and type of funding, are implemented in a manner consistent with the UNFCCC REDD+ safeguards (Cancun Principles), and must provide the most recent SoI on how all of the UNFCCC REDD+ safeguards have been addressed and respected before they can receive results-based payments.

In response, the IKI-funded ‘Operationalising National Safeguards for Results-based Payments from REDD+’ Project (2015-2018) implemented by SNV Netherlands Development Organisation has supported Ghana, Peru and Viet Nam’s National REDD+ focal agencies in meeting these key safeguards requirements by promoting a country approach to REDD+ safeguards.

Ghana’s SoI submission was the product of a comprehensive iterative process initiated by the Forestry Commission with funding from the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility’s (FCPF) to support Ghana in undertaking a Strategic Environmental Assessment during the REDD+ Readiness process. The process was further enhanced with the development of other key safeguards instruments including the SoI by SNV in close collaboration with Ghana’s Forestry Commission (FC, National REDD+ Secretariat) and technical support from Climate, Law and Policy (CLP) and a vibrant and active Safeguards Sub-Working Group (SSWG) comprising actors from public sector and civil society institutions for technical discussions and consultations. The process included an extensive analysis of Ghana’s legal and policy framework relevant to the Cancun principles. The analyses were corroborated by designated legal experts from various public agencies and confirmed through participatory SSWG consultations. The analyses were collated into REDD+ Principle, Criteria and Indicators for monitoring REDD+ Interventions.

Local people breaking cocoa pod. Respect for the knowledge and rights of indigenous peoples is one of the safeguards that should be considered in the context of REDD+ activities; Photo: SNV

The final SoI outlines Ghana’s interpretation of the Cancun principles in the country context and confirms a country approach that also integrates the requirements of the FCPF, given the importance of the Ghana Cocoa Forest REDD+ Programme under the FCPF Carbon Fund as the country’s premier REDD+ programme. The SoI also provides specific information on Ghana’s policies, laws and regulations with respect to each of the Cancun’s seven key safeguard elements (including effective governance, the rights of local communities and indigenous peoples, consultation and participation, environment - especially natural forests and biodiversity), as well as how information on these safeguards would be collected and displayed through an operational SIS that largely utilizes existing institutional structures.

Ghana’s SoI was submitted hot on the heels of Zambia, the first African country to do so (who submitted in May 2019).  Earlier in the year, Viet Nam became only the second country in the world, and the first in Asia to meet all of the UNFCCC Warsaw Framework conditions to receive REDD+ payments, following the establishment of their SIS web platform and submission of their SoI in January 2019.

Forest management in riparian swamp with the knowledge of local communities; Photo: SNVThe three countries benefitted from the project’s highly successful South-South Knowledge Exchange on REDD+ Safeguards hosted by the FC and supported by the project in coordination with the UN-REDD programme in Accra in June 2018. This event represented a rare opportunity for exchanging knowledge and experiences among REDD+ countries and involved the sharing of lessons learned from Viet Nam specifically on the topic of their own SoI which was approaching final drafting stage at the time.

Ms Roselyn Fosuah Adjei, Director of the Climate Change Directorate and Ghana’s National REDD+ Coordinator at the FC expressed huge appreciation to the IKI as well as the support of SNV, CLP and other stakeholders including the SSWG in finalising the SoI. She commented that the submission of the SoI is a hugely important milestone in Ghana’s REDD+ process and a critical requirement enabling Ghana to increase its opportunities of entering the GCF’s Results Based Payments Phase upon fulfilment of the other requirements. She further indicated that the SoI submission strengthens Ghana’s REDD+ Strategy Implementation and opens the country up to more investment opportunities.

SNV is currently planning to develop and test approaches for the practical implementation, monitoring and reporting on REDD+ safeguards at sub-national and site levels in Ghana and Viet Nam. It will also seek to improve both countries’ web-based SIS so that they may effectively incorporate information on safeguards implementation from site to national levels.