Home > MEA Bulletin > List of Guest Articles > Guest Article No. 70
MEA Bulletin - Guest Article No. 70 - Friday, 29 May 2009
UN-REDD Programme: Engagement of Indigenous Peoples and Civil Society
By Elspeth Halverson, Environment & Energy Group, Bureau for Development Policy, UNDP
UN-REDD Programme: Engagement of Indigenous Peoples and Civil Society
Full Article

There is wide recognition that reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) will succeed only with the full participation and ownership of Indigenous Peoples and other forest-dependent communities. This is especially relevant at the local level, where land and other natural resource management decisions are ultimately made. 

Aware of the concerns of Indigenous Peoples and Civil Society Organizations and in support of their enhanced participation, the UN-REDD Programme has developed an approach that includes:

Active representation in the governing body of the UN-REDD Programme
Global and national outreach and consultations, and
Support to the establishment of a CSO Advisory Group to provide independent advice and guidance to the Programme

The UN-REDD Programme engagement strategy focuses on three basic principles: 1) representation; 2) transparency, access to information and accountability; and 3) participation and inclusion.

In consultation with representatives of Indigenous Peoples and civil society, the UN-REDD Programme has developed Operational Guidance on the Engagement of Indigenous Peoples and other Forest Dependent Communities. This informs the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of UN-REDD Programme activities at the global and national level. The Operational Guidance also provides best practice advice on how to consult with Indigenous Peoples and other forest dependent communities and links to resources for further information. It is widely distributed to UN-REDD Programme staff, UN Country Team staff, and national government and civil society counterparts who are involved in any UN-REDD Programme activities that may impact upon the rights and livelihoods of Indigenous Peoples or other forest dependent communities.

The strategy is delivered within the framework of the UN-REDD Programme, via Country Actions and International Support Functions (see Framework Document for more details on the overall architecture of the UN-REDD Programme).


Indigenous Peoples and civil society organizations are represented both as members and as observers to the UN-REDD Programme Policy Board, providing leadership, direction and decisions on financial allocations to ensure the overall success of the UN-REDD Programme. The Policy Board is co-chaired by either FAO, UNDP or UNEP and a representative from a UN-REDD Programme pilot country on behalf of one of the three regions (Africa, Asia & the Pacific, and Latin America & the Caribbean), rotating each year.

Membership includes one Indigenous Peoples representative, as selected by the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, and one representative from civil society. Other members include representatives from the three UN agencies, donor organizations, and UN-REDD Programme pilot countries. All decisions are reached by consensus.

Observers include three Indigenous Peoples’ representatives from each of the three regions and three civil society representatives, one from an organization from a developed country and the other two from the regions that do not have full membership on the Policy Board. Other observers include selected intergovernmental organizations (UNFCCC, Global Environment Facility, and the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility). Observers may be invited by the Co-chairs of the Policy Board to participate in the deliberations of the Policy Board.

Indigenous Peoples and civil society members and observers act as the link between networks, organizations, and communities and the UN-REDD Programme meetings and processes. They decide on interventions and agenda items to be presented at Policy Board meetings, and exercise due diligence in striving to ensure that a transparent and participatory process is maintained by the Policy Board.

Global and national outreach and consultations

The UN-REDD Programme organizes global and national outreach consultations to ensure that the interests and concerns of civil society and Indigenous Peoples are continuously reflected in its activities and outcomes.

At the national level, the UN-REDD Programme requires that the National Joint Programmes are validated in country as an initial step of an ongoing consultative process that ensures civil society engagement (for more details see the Terms of Reference of the Policy Board).

At the international level, the UN-REDD Programme and partners organized the Global Indigenous Peoples Consultation on REDD in Baguio City, Philippines, in November 2008. The consultation aimed at providing an opportunity for indigenous and local communities to be fully informed about the activities of the international system regarding REDD schemes and climate change, as well as a space to develop informed positions and timely input into the implementation of such concepts. The overarching principles and recommendations developed during this consultation – which included the necessity of engagement, information and reliance on free and prior informed consent – guided the elaboration of the Operational Guidance (for more details on the Global Indigenous Peoples Consultation, see the Summary Report).

At the Indigenous Peoples Global Summit on Climate Change, held in Anchorage, Alaska, in March 2009, the UN-REDD Programme facilitated a self-selection process to identify the Indigenous Peoples observers at its Policy Board for each of the 3 regions.

Civil Society Advisory Group

The UN-REDD Programme Policy Board has endorsed the formation of a Civil Society Advisory Group on Forests, Livelihoods, and Climate Change (see Establishing an independent CSO Advisory Group for more details). The advice and analysis of the Independent CSO Advisory Group moves towards ensuring that climate investments in forest areas are effective and support forest peoples’ rights and development. Current membership of the Group consists of a diverse set of institutions from Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Europe, Latin America and the research and advocacy communities.

The analysis and recommendations of the Independent Civil Society Advisory Group to the UN-REDD Programme Policy Board is completely independent and not binding on the UN-REDD Programme or other affiliated bodies. This advice may be freely shared with civil society actors to ensure transparency. The Group is to ensure the active participation of national and local-level Indigenous and civil society organizations in the Civil Society Advisory Group and its activities.

This approach is part of the UN-REDD Joint Global Programme, a component of the International Support Functions of the UN-REDD Programme that seeks to increase understanding on how Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation can become a pathway to address climate change. The UN-REDD Programme will provide funding for travel and will communicate all relevant information in preparation for the Policy Board meetings.
| Back to IISD RS “Linkages” home | Visit IISDnet | Send e-mail to IISD RS |
© 2009, IISD. All rights reserved.