The Role of Social Safeguards, Standards, and Impact Assessment in Reducing Risks and Enhancing OutcomesBy Michael Richards - Forest Trends View Publication
The main focus in the early years of terrestrial carbon markets has been on assuring the environmental integrity of carbon offsets, while social and biodiversity objectives – the so-called ‘co-benefits’ – have received much less attention. But with the mainstreaming of Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) as a climate change mitigation strategy, scrutiny of the co-benefits, especially around the risk of negative social impacts, has increased sharply. Many feel that REDD+ poses major threats to the rights and welfare of indigenous peoples and other forest-dependent communities.
This brief assesses our current understanding of social or equity effects of REDD+; describes the main international response to the social risks of REDD+ in the form of safeguards and standards; proposes a key role for participatory social impact assessment (SIA) in effectively implementing these safeguards and standards, especially if applied in support of a free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) process; and concludes by arguing that this is not only an issue of how to reduce the social risks, but that equitable REDD+ is vital for effective REDD+.