Sharing the benefits of Uganda’s forest conservation efforts
27 June 2013 | Article
IUCN’s “Towards Pro-Poor REDD+” project has produced a study on how Uganda, and other developing countries, should share benefits from reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+).
With support from the Royal Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Danida), the study entitled “Benefit Sharing in Uganda’s Forestry Sector”, looks at how forest-dependent communities can get the most from an international mechanism that helps developing countries reduce their greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation-- also known as REDD+. The study analyzes various REDD+ benefit sharing mechanisms, including models from other developing countries such as Costa Rica, and makes 17 specific recommendations related to land and forest tenure, benefit sharing mechanisms, beneficiaries, equitable participation and conflict management.
To address some of the mistrust around channeling REDD+ benefits through existing government budgeting processes, the study recommends that an autonomous REDD+ Unit be set up and eventually replaced by a national REDD+ agency within the Ministry of Water and Environment. Modeled after Costa Rica’s FONAFIFO organization, this unit could help to ensure current governance problems are addressed and do not affect equitable REDD+ benefit sharing.
It is recommended that a nationwide participatory assessment of stakeholders be carried out in Uganda to identify those who are eligible for REDD+ benefits. Once this is done, it is suggested that REDD+ payments and other benefits to forest owners and communities be established with a reasonable level of certainty and clarity so local communities can go into the arrangement with free, prior and informed consent.
In terms of community participation, the study recommends that programmes be put in place to build the capacity of local people, so that all eligible stakeholders can play effectively participate, and share REDD+ benefits in an equitable way. Frameworks that provide space for communities’ voices and participation should also be enhanced.
On the issue of land and forest tenure, it is suggested that Uganda assist poorer people and local communities to develop into legal entities with titled/registered ownership of land and forest holdings. To properly manage conflicts that may arise, the study encourages Uganda to expeditiously start up the Conflict and Grievance Mechanism committed to in the country’s REDD+ Readiness Preparation Plan (R-PP).
In assessing Uganda’s current laws on benefit sharing, it is observed that while there are clear procedures for distribution of benefits, there are examples, such as in the National Park area, when most community members did not effectively benefit from shared revenues. In some cases, community groups didn’t have sufficient capacity to negotiate with government institutions, and these institutions in turn did not always follow legal provisions of agreements. As such, intermediaries or frameworks are needed to help community members enhance their bargaining power and capacity to negotiate with government institutions.
In terms of approaches to actual payments, the study suggests that REDD+ payments could be made to participating community groups through village savings and loan associations, which have the potential to provide equitable benefits to all eligible members of the group. In this way, REDD+ benefits can help build the savings and investment capacities of poorer members of local communities.
More on Uganda’s Benefit Sharing study
Uganda’s REDD+ Readiness Preparation Plan (R-PP), approved for US$3.6million in funding from the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility in April 2012, identifies the need for a REDD+ benefit sharing mechanism that can provide sufficient incentives and benefits to all stakeholders in an affordable and sustainable way. IUCN’s benefit sharing study in Uganda was designed with the aim to support this commitment.
The first part of the study identifies the different types of economic, social and environmental benefits that could be derived from REDD+ at both the national and local level, as well as the range of possible REDD+ beneficiaries at national, sub-national and community levels.
It also looks at different options for REDD+ benefit sharing, from national “input-based” to sub-national “performance-based” mechanisms, and analyzes the way in which REDD+ benefits are likely to be distributed-- be it through cash payments for forest rent, tax relief, access to loans and microfinance, land titles, access to concession rights, and/or capacity building and training, to name a few.
All recommendations were informed by a series of consultations with stakeholders, which took place in the Mount Elgon Landscape area during 2012. The recommendations were discussed and synthesized by national stakeholders from key government institutions and civil society groups.