From 16-19 Nov. 2015, FPP in collaboration with its local partners working across the Africa region organized in Yaoundé in Cameroon a meeting on Monitoring Reporting and Verification (MRV). The objective of this MRV meeting was to develop a common approach to community-based monitoring and set out appropriate indicators and tools for MRV that FPP and partners can mainstream throughout various initiatives on the ground to secure the rights of forest communities.
Local partners and representatives of indigenous peoples and forest-dependent communities from Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Liberia, Kenya, Republic of Congo (RoC), Central Africa Republic (CAR), Cameroon and Liberia attended the meeting.
Over the past decade FPP and local partners have been supporting forest communities in the DRC, Liberia, Kenya, Republic of Congo (RoC), Uganda, CAR, and Cameroon to protect their human rights over their traditional lands. In addition to that, indigenous peoples and forest-dependent communities in the region were assisted to establish MRV systems for monitoring changes on the ground and mapping customary lands to produce documents that communities can use in support of securing improved land tenure rights, while generating information on the drivers of deforestation and the non-carbon benefits of forests.
For FPP, the need for increasing training and capacity-building regarding MRV arises when communities across the region were faced with planned REDD+ projects, infrastructure development, agro-industrial developments such as oil palm plantations, logging, mining and conservation concessions with destructive impacts on their wellbeing and cultural survival.
Presentations and discussions in plenary and work groups in separate and parallel sessions were structured in a way to enable indigenous representatives and local partners to come up with community-led instruments and indicators to monitor changes and contribute to discussions on initiatives affecting forest communities.
Participants developed a clear set of themes and indicators to ensure MRV is addressing local and national information needs. Key indicators identified by participants included various themes ranging from land rights, to human rights, and participatory rights, as well as welfare, benefits and livelihood rights.
- Land rights: state-recognized documentation e.g. land title, community forest, existence and effective implementation of law recognizing indigenous peoples’ rights as well as other community-generated indicators for on-the-ground monitoring of communities land rights’ issues.
- Human rights: measuring incidents of human rights abuses, assessing mechanisms for dealing with human rights abuses, the existence, independence and effectiveness of human rights commissions, and whether communities know their rights and have access to justice.
- Participatory rights: the effective recognition and implementation of the right of communities to Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC), access to quality information in a timely manner, and the ability of communities (including women, youth, elderly people) to affect decision making processes, and to give their consent.
The meeting looked also in detail at the “toolbox of MRV hardware and software used by FPP and partners, including developments such as Sapelli, and provided an opportunity to share and compare different combinations of tools with support from the FPP Mapping Unit.
This gathering was made possible through generous funding from DFID, the European Union Commission, and the Swedish Embassy in Kinshasa/DRC. Participation and ownership were also key issues discussed during the meeting. It was agreed that approaches and strategies for data collection technologies and processes, as well as questions related to data sharing and management should be developed in collaboration with communities. Participants insisted that FPP and local partners must ensure that data collected on the field are own and controlled by communities.
Apart from establishing some indicators, discussions on the policy and change stream focused on mechanisms for change. This was about exploring what mechanisms are available to effect political changes using data collected on the ground, and how community data can be incorporated into national monitoring systems.
The meeting offered a crucial opportunity to developing a more strategic approach to MRV which will now be implemented on the ground across the region by FPP and local partners.