In the world of UN climate negotiations, in which 194 official parties, as well as hundreds of observers and representatives from civil society and indigenous groups, have different and complex agendas and priorities, meaningful progress to reduce emissions is a challenging feat. Ensuring that progress respects human rights and environmental integrity is even more so.
As negotiators were designing the REDD+ Warsaw Framework at COP 19 last year, which provides the basic rules for implementing REDD+, an equally important process took place outside the closed doors of the negotiating rooms. A number of groups recognized the need to improve collaboration and an opportunity to influence the negotiations by working more strategically, by working together. These groups – the International Indigenous Peoples Forum on Climate Change, REDD+ Safeguards Working Group, and the Accra Caucus – have been engaging in REDD+ in the international arena to ensure that in protecting forests to prevent climate change, environmental issues such as biodiversity and water protection, as well as human rights, are protected and even promoted.
Independently, the groups recognized that while the Warsaw Framework did achieve some progress, many important issues remain unresolved. Each group noted the need to clarify and address drivers of deforestation, to define and promote benefits beyond emission reductions (non-carbon benefits or NCBs), and to develop further guidance at the UNFCCC on how safeguards are addressed and respected through the “Safeguard Information Systems.”
Together, we discovered strength in numbers and a unity of purpose in promoting rights and environmental protection in REDD+. We recognized that there was much we could learn from each other, much to gain, and much work still to be done. We identified our role in advancing climate justice more broadly in the climate negotiations.
And so, we decided to form a “Tri-Caucus” to collaborate more, to support each other’s messages, and to better understand and advance each other’s positions. In the year since, the Tri-Caucus has enhanced coordination in anticipation of the next negotiations in Peru in December 2014. One particular motivation for uniting was the concern that the decisions on REDD+ made in Warsaw on finance and accounting could result in countries ignoring the remaining work needed on REDD+ safeguards and drivers of deforestation. In response, we agreed to push for stronger international policy and greater harmonization with domestic laws in the months ahead as a loosely coordinated network of national and international activists.
In the case of the Tri-Caucus, the saying “It takes a village” is an understatement. To move the world, it takes a truly global, coordinated community. Coming together to share priorities, key messages and strategies, communicating important information about resources and contacts, and strategizing how to improve coordination has sparked almost a year’s worth of enriched understanding.
Originally posted on November 19, 2014.