Civil society groups in DRC suspend engagement with National REDD Coordination Process
In late June civil society organisations tracking REDD+ policies in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) sent open letters to the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) and to the DRC’s Environment Minister expressing grave concerns about the lack of effective public and community participation in national REDD+ policy-making (see links below this article). The “REDD Climate Working Group” (GTCR), which authored the letters and is composed of a broad range of national and local environment and development NGOs in DRC, is insisting on the reorganisation of REDD governance structures in DRC to ensure decentralisation and ensure meaningful participation by civil society and forest peoples in forest and climate policy making at all levels.
Specific grievances raised by GTCR relate to the failures of the National REDD Committee to ensure regular and transparent meetings, the lack of civil society and community participation in the formulation of a government mid-term progress report on REDD readiness presented to FCPF, as well as irregularities in local policy-making relating to the country’s Forest Investment Programme financed by the World Bank’s Forest Investment Programme (FIP).
GTCR complains that development of the national REDD+ strategy has not so far been carried out in an inclusive manner. It reports that the Information, Education and Communication (IEC) component of the DRC Readiness Preparation Proposal (RPP), which is meant to be a key prior pillar for the construction of the national REDD+ strategy, has not received its agreed budget allocation. GTCR protests that the IEC programme has therefore become a “ghostly” initiative without substance. Relating to the World Bank FIP, GTCR claims that:
"One notes a redirection of the FIP (in DRC) in relation to its initial objectives. As an illustration, the FIP workshop on mobilization and coordination of the private sector in agroforestry held from 20 to 23 May 2012 in Mbakana-Kinshasa is one of compelling evidence of a redirection of FIP towards unnamed interests and a tendency to control funds through clientelist organizations..."
These concerns led the GTCR to suspend its participation in the CN REDD thematic working groups as of 22 June 2012 following a meeting of its members. In their open letter to the Minister, GTCR advise that they:
"...deplore the fact that the National REDD Coordination (CN REDD) has imposed an agenda without consultation and participation of all the stakeholders involved, an agenda that proposes to hastily produce by July 15th, the first draft version of National REDD national strategy by the thematic working groups..."
They add that:
"The member organisations of the GTCR do not consider that the thematic groups have attained a level of maturity to undertake this [work]."
This position was communicated to the FCPF’s 12th Participants Committee (PC12) meeting in Santa Marta (Colombia) at the end of June during its plenary discussions on the mid-term review of DRC progress towards REDD readiness.
"Things are serious in DRC as participation has not been effective. This is a grave state of affairs and the PC decision on this matter is critical as it is important to set progressive precedents on how to deal with the mid-term review process. This is a critical matter for the PC." [NGO Representative of the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance]
Northern NGOs (including Greenpeace) also intervened on this matter to share deep concerns about the lack of public participation in the mid-term review progress for DRC and delays in advancing key readiness activities, including actions to promote forest governance and tenure reforms for the recognition of forest peoples’ rights. Several NGOs protested that FCPF procedures had been violated in the late posting and translation of documents relating to DRC and related issues, including the hastily published FCPF document on a proposed “Process for Submitting and Reviewing Mid-Term Progress Reports and Requests for Additional Funding by Participating REDD+ Countries”.
Surprisingly, other than the government of the Netherlands, the FCPF Participants and FCPF Management Team did not respond publicly to the alarming CSO news from the DRC. Nevertheless, the assessment of REDD readiness in DRC carried out by an independent consultant and shared with PC12 confirmed many of the points raised by the GTCR. The independent review finds that decentralisation in readiness activities has so far been “insufficient” as most actions to date have been centred on the DRC’s capital city and have not reached the provinces. The same independent assessment shares concerns that concrete measures to tackle deforestation drivers remain “embryonic”, while meaningful forest sector reforms have yet to take place. For its part, the World Bank report notes that “much remains to be done” under DRC readiness.
In the end, no PC12 decision was taken by the FCPF on the DRC mid-term review. More formal assessments of progress in readiness will likely be required in future PC meetings as DRC is reportedly considering a request for an additional US$5 million for its readiness activities.
Meanwhile, in DRC it is unclear how the government will respond to the legitimate concerns raised by civil society over the top-down REDD process in the country. Civil society organisations and forest peoples in DRC also wait to see how the government will honour recent public commitments to respect free, prior and informed consent in all REDD policies and actions affecting indigenous peoples and forest-dependent communities (see article 5 of this E-Newsletter on TFD Dialogue in Kinshasa).
1) GTCR Letter announcing withdrawal from National REDD Coordination thematic group discussions (available only in French): http://www.forestpeoples.org/sites/fpp/files/news/2012/07/Groupe%20de%20...
2) GTCR Letter to the FCPF
3) Independent Mid-Term Evaluation of the REDD+ Readiness process in DRC - Presentation for PC 12
English: http://www.forestcarbonpartnership.org/fcp/sites/forestcarbonpartnership.org/files/Documents/PDF/June201 /Presentation%20of%20the%20DRC%20mid%20term%20evaluation%20of%20REDD%2B%20Processes%20final%20%5B1%5D.pdf
4) Government Mid-Term progress report of the national REDD+ process in DRC (only available in French): http://www.forestcarbonpartnership.org/fcp/sites/forestcarbonpartnership.org/files/Documents/PDF/June2012/FCPF%20Rapport%20Avancement%20Mi-Parcours%20Juin2012.pdf