AFF/UN-REDD Program to organize knowledge exchange on strengthening REDD+ in Africa.

The United Nations Collaborative Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in
Developing Countries (UN-REDD Programme) in partnership with the African Forest Forum (AFF) and the Nangui
Abrogoua University in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, are organizing a dual event to support the REDD+ implementation in
African Countries. A press release from the African Forest Forum,AFF May, 24, 2024 notes that the event involves a Regional Knowledge Exchange on achievements and lessons learned from
selected African REDD+ countries; and a Learning Lab on Strengthening Social Inclusion in REDD+ Implementation in Africa. The workshop will be held on the theme;
Knowledge Exchange on “Strengthening REDD+ implementation and integration across sectoral
development policies and strategies: taking stock of achievements and lessons learned from selected
African countries.” According to a concept note from AFF,
the aim of the workshop is to share and validate key findings from the national consultations, facilitate peer to peer sharing of experiences, co-generate best practices that could help tailor knowledge products to meet the specific
capacity needs of African nations and improve efficiency in REDD+ implementation.
The objectives of the regional exchange workshop include to share, discuss, strengthen, and validate findings from national consultations.
It is also to facilitate knowledge exchange among the target audience, including from countries not covered by the national consultations and document best practices, success factors and gaps on REDD+ implementation in Africa.
To also co-identify areas for future interventions by AFF and UN-REDD to enhance implementation and investments
in REDD+ and other forest-related nature-based solutions in Africa.
To promote stakeholder dialogue, networking, and collaboration.

Expectations or outcomes from the three days conclave include:
Findings from national consultations are shared, strengthened, and validated by diverse stakeholder groups
with actionable insights to advance countries’ REDD+ agenda.
Ensure key messages, best practices and lessons learned are formulated to guide capacity building for enhanced
implementation of REDD+ in Africa.
Ensure networks are strengthened for sustained South-South dialogue and collaboration on REDD+ implementation
in Africa.
See that key areas of capacity and knowledge gaps are prioritised for future interventions by AFF and UN-REDD. According to the AFF concept note,African forests are crucial part of the nature-based solutions to combating global warming and thus meeting the Paris
Agreement targets.
However, despite recent attempts to address tropical deforestation by decreasing the demand for
deforestation-linked products and promoting sustainable practices, the rate of forest cover loss, for the period 2010- 2020, hits four million ha yearly in Africa (FRA, 2020).
Many African countries have embraced REDD+ (Reduction of Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation, including enhancement of carbon stocks from forests and other land uses) as a key mitigation strategy in the AFOLU
(Agriculture, Forestry and other land Use) sector with adaptation benefits as well as result-based payment mechanism.
“However, their potential to fully tap into the economic and environmental rewards resulting from implementation and
investment in REDD+ remains highly unexplored,” the note stated .

While some countries have been progressing gradually with a few
advancing to phase 3 of REDD+1 ,making them eligible for result-based payments, most of them are still at different
stages of the readiness phase.
Despite these varying performances in REDD+ implementation, African countries have
demonstrated distinct experiences, approaches and challenges in their REDD+ journey, especially for the key areas of capacity and knowledge gaps previously identified by the African Forest Forum (AFF) and the UN-REDD Programmes.

These areas include REDD+ finance, carbon markets, social inclusion, deforestation-freeIn the sustainable development goals, issues of inequality are addressed through promoting inclusive and sustainable
societies because social (including gender) inequalities reduce opportunities for enhancing human well-being.

Social and Gender Dimensions

Social and gender dimensions of REDD+ aim to ensure that forest-related projects and jurisdictional programmes do
not harm the environment or communities, particularly the most vulnerable groups like the poor, minority groups,
Indigenous Peoples, local communities, and women. It is important due to the impact of interventions in the forest and land use sector on women, men, youth, boys and girls, their livelihoods, and the environment.

Need for Carbon Credits

Furthermore, the
increasing need for high-integrity carbon credits, which could potentially attract higher prices, is linked to clearly
defining how actions that produce results adhere to core international standards on human rights, Indigenous Peoples’
and women’s rights, community rights, gender equality, inclusive participation and governance. In addition, the
demand side of carbon credits expect the benefits from REDD+ initiatives to enhance the living standards and wellbeing of Indigenous Peoples and local communities and advance sustainable management of the environment.
Social inclusion is ultimately about the full, meaningful effective engagement of the diverse stakeholders and
rightsholders, such as Indigenous People, local communities, women and youth, to forge public policies and field
Social inclusion in REDD+ is essential for ensuring the effectiveness, sustainability, and legitimacy of forest
conservation and climate mitigation efforts.
By involving and empowering local communities and Indigenous Peoples,
and marginalized groups, such as women and youth among them, REDD+ initiatives can achieve their environmental
objectives while also promoting social equity, gender equality and justice. Hence a socially inclusive and gender-responsive stakeholder engagement approach is required, so that diverse governmental sectors and agencies, civil
society actors, Indigenous Peoples, local communities, practitioners, the private sector and development financiers, among others, work together to devise, implement and monitor forest solutions to the climate emergency.
According to experts,the main dimensions considered in social inclusion for REDD+ include, but are not limited to:
– The full and effective inclusion of historically excluded groups including, women, youth, local communities
Indigenous Peoples and ethnic minorities.
– Benefit sharing mechanism.
– National REDD+ governance system.

It is against this backdrop that the Learning Lab will feature training sessions to enhance capacity and knowledge of participants to establish social
and environmental measures in countries implementing REDD+.
Experts in the field of social inclusion encompassing
the above dimensions will lead training sessions and provide practical insights for designing effective strategies, the AFF concept note indicates.
The interactive approach of training will also enable peer to peer learning between participants.
“The discussion with
national stakeholders will inform how social inclusion is being addressed in their countries, paying attention on countries’ approaches to promote and implement gender-responsive processes, benefit sharing mechanism, good governance in REDD+, along with the challenges, lessons learnt and potential opportunities for improvement in the
different countries in the African REDD+ process, agriculture as well as
governance frameworks for sharing REDD+ benefits, the” report said.


By Ngalame Élias

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