In the Hindu Kush Himalayan region, countries have initiated their work on REDD+ safeguards but no country has yet made a formal submission to the UNFCCC. ICIMOD’s REDD+ Initiative organized a regional learning workshop on ‘Demystifying REDD+ Safeguards for South Asia’, which was held on 2–6 November 2015 at Kolkata, India, in order to engage experts from South Asia to help formulate REDD+ safeguards for the region as recommended in the COP decisions. This meeting brought together four partner countries, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, and Nepal, with the long-term goal of establishing a REDD+ safeguard information system while fostering South- South learning in the region. Since there are many common opportunities and challenges among these eastern Himalayan countries, the hope was that by focusing exclusively on the region that the assembled experts could share knowledge and experiences across borders to come up with a safeguards approach specifically tailored to the Himalayan context. In particular, the meeting aimed to improve understanding on the REDD+ safeguards approach and to consider the extent to which these are compatible with the existing safeguard mechanisms already put forth under each country’s own policies, laws, and rules. It also endeavoured to identify gaps in existing policies, laws, and rules; to establish a technical expert group; and to formulate a work plan for documenting and sharing knowledge products on REDD+ safeguards.
This was the first workshop to bring the HKH regional countries together to discuss REDD+ safeguards and, as such, it made the most of this South-South forum to help update countries on REDD+ safeguards and to give regional experts engaged in establishing safeguards an opportunity to network and exchange ideas and information. By the end of the workshop the participants had gained an improved insight on safeguards, had a better understanding of how countries can benefit from a learning and sharing platform, and had a better appreciation of how it is possible to build on the commonalities between countries.
The workshop discussed in this report was conducted as part of the REDD+ Initiative of ICIMOD. The REDD+ Initiative is implemented with the support of Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB).