REDD+ in the East African Community – why effort is much needed in communications and collaboration, both within and across borders

 

Written by David Mwayafu, REDD-net Coordinator East Africa, UCSD

Uganda Coalition for Sustainable Development, and other East African SusWatch partners, SusWatch Kenya and Tanzania Coalition for Sustainable Development, had an interesting day on May 31st at the 2nd National Ugandan CSO fair. With the fair’s theme of ‘managing the dynamics of transition to the East African Community’, the core issues at the fair are closely aligned with UCSD’s experiences working across East Africa, for example on management of trans-boundary natural resources, such as the Lake Victoria Environmental Management Project, and The Mount Elgon Regional Conservation Programme

In fact, it seems that partnerships such as East African SusWatch Network are not just an example of the importance of cross-boundary coordination on natural resource management, but how such schemes could be integral towards supporting the transition to an East African Community. The Guest of Honor, Commissioner in the Ministry of East African Community Affairs, Ms Rhona Serwadda, welcomed the efforts of the Network, noting how specific initiatives like this contribute to the wider East African integration process, reiterating the importance of sharing information and knowledge across borders as an important inroad to genuine gradual integration, and advising on the continued importance of translating information into the region’s key languages.

Ms Serwadda formally launched two new pieces of work that the Network has produced with pan East African implications:

  • a popular version of the East African Community Climate Change Policy, The document provides accessible information about the policy, which aims to address the adverse impacts of climate change in the region, in response to the growing concern about the increasing threats of the negative impacts of climate change to national and regional development targets and goals.
  • UCSD’s Toolkit to assess proposed benefit sharing and revenue distribution schemes of community REDD+ projects. UCSD’s Toolkit has been developed as part of REDD-net’s aim of strengthening the ability of community-based institutions to address REDD+ issues, with benefit sharing being a key issue in the design of equitable REDD+ policies and projects at the national and community levels. This Toolkit – which has received positive feedback from various actors in East Africa – will assist practitioners, civil society and policy makers to assess the proposed benefit sharing and revenue arrangements of REDD+ Projects that will impact upon forest-dependent communities

The experience from the fair demonstrates how important outreach activities are in supporting understanding of complex issues such as REDD+ in all countries. Uganda had its R-PP approved by the World Bank Forest Carbon Partnership Forest (FCPF) in May 2011 with recommendations that there was need for the country to address issues of the ’awareness and communication strategy’ and the conflict and grievance management mechanism’. Unless resources are put into addressing these, the issue of deforestation and forest degradation will continue to be a major threat to the forestry sector, and of course the livelihoods of local communities.

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About REDD-net

REDD-net is a network to share the information and experience among organisations working for REDD . The power of interests surrounding climate change and REDD , means that, even where governments are well-disposed, pursuing a pro-poor agenda will largely depend on the capacity of southern NGOs to assimilate the new knowledge and use it to champion the interests of the poor.
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