REDD in Cambodia
In Cambodia management and coordination of REDD+ will follow existing decision-making structures, with a few additions. The idea is to have a new institutional framework governing climate change generally and REDD+ specifically, to complement existing institutions involved in land and forest management. The National Climate Change Committee (NCCC) is responsible for preparing, coordinating and monitoring the implementation of the Royal Government of Cambodia’s (RGC) policies, strategies, regulations, plans and programs related to climate change. Internationally, it determines the national negotiation positions and strategies for participation in international negotiations on climate change within the UNFCCC. The Department of Climate Change (DCC), as part of the General Department of Administration for Nature Conservation and Protection (GDANCP) within the Ministry of Environment (MoE), serves as the secretariat of the NCCC. At the national level the UN-REDD National Programme will support the implementation of the Readiness Preparation Proposal (R-PP) and the Cambodia REDD+ Roadmap. Implementation will be managed and coordinated by a National REDD+ Task Force, the Task Force Secretariat, a REDD+ Advisory Group and a REDD+ Consultation Group (UN-REDD, 2011). In February 2013 the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) issued an official decree (prakas) to establish the national REDD+ Taskforce. The REDD+ Task Force and the REDD+ Secretariat was set up and operational already in 2012 but this decree provides the Taskforce with important official legal recognition. Other REDD+bodies such as the REDD+ Consultation Group are still under development. Currently, a REDD+ Task Force is chaired by the Forestry Administration (FA), includes the GDANCP as deputy chair, and representatives from the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction (MLMUPC), Fisheries Administration (FiA), Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF), Ministry of Interior (MoI), Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy, and Ministry of Rural Development (MRD). The role of the Task Force is to coordinate all REDD+ readiness activities in Cambodia, with additional responsibilities, including overall management of the UN-REDD National Programme and monitoring of REDD+ projects. The Taskforce reports to the MAFF and NCCC on national REDD+ progress and activities (UN-REDD, 2011). According to the REDD+ Roadmap decision making within the REDD+ Task Force should be made by consensus between the FA, the GDANCP and the FiA, as these are the agencies responsible for forest land management (FA, 2010b). The Task Force will receive input and consult with civil society and non-governmental stakeholders through the REDD+ Consultation Group and the REDD+ Advisory Group; both comprise of members from civil society, indigenous peoples, NGOs, private sector and Academic groups. The UN-REDD Programme Executive Board (PEB) provides additional support in terms of overall guidance for the implementation of the UN-REDD National Programme. The role of the PEB is to review progress and provide oversight to national REDD+ readiness activities. The PEB is chaired by the chair of the Task Force and consists of key members from the Task Force and the REDD+ Advisory Group, as well as development partners (UNDP, FAO, and UNEP), donors, and two elected representatives from civil society and indigenous peoples, who take part in quarterly meetings. The REDD+ Task Force Secretariat fills the function of the Programme Management Unit, which supports the REDD+ Task Force in all day-to-day operations, including financial activities, developing Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) and mechanisms for reporting, monitoring and evaluating readiness activities. The Secretariat reports back to the REDD+ Task Force and the Programme Assurance Team. The Programme Assurance Team consists of representatives from the FAO, UNDP and UNEP and provides oversight and operational support to the UN-REDD Programme and, in turn, reports to the PEB. Management and coordination of REDD+ activities at the sub-national level will adhere to existing structures of decentralised forest management, which involves provinces, districts and communes. Under current legislation communes are mandated to protect and preserve environmental and natural resources. These regional and local administrative authorities do not have decision making authority over the management and use of forest resources, but they provide support to the relevant forest management ministries at the national level.
Stakeholder engagement and participation
Consultations for the development of the REDD+ Roadmap began in 2009 and were based on a three-phased approach (UN-REDD, 2011). The first phase was based on initial awareness raising, in the form of two national level workshops, as well as through presentations to the Technical Working Group on Forestry and Environment (TWG F&E now changed to the Technical Working Group on Forestry Reform TWG FR), the forum for multi-stakeholder consultation. The second phase focused on individual and small scale consultations, where a series of meetings with civil society groups and indigenous people organisations were arranged to increase their understanding of REDD+ and the national REDD+ planning process. Information sharing and discussion meetings were held with the informal NGO Working Group, as well as with grassroots civil society and indigenous peoples groups. The third phase focused on national level consultation, where workshops were held at the national level to bring together all stakeholders in a forum to discuss key topics within the REDD+ Roadmap and to give feedback to the National REDD+ Task Force. A separate consultation was held at the request of civil society and indigenous peoples’ representatives, to gain their input to the REDD+ Roadmap and more specifically to develop a consultation and participation plan for the readiness phase. Following these overall consultations, the REDD+ Roadmap document was revised to reflect comments received, and the final document was validated by a meeting of key stakeholder representatives in September 2010 (UN-REDD, 2011). Another significant engagement process has revolved around the selection of civil society organisations (CSO) and Indigenous Peoples’ representatives to sit on the UN-REDD Programme Executive Board (PEB) (RGC, 2012). Workshops and awareness raising meetings have been taking place throughout 2012 and during a three-day workshop in September 2012 two representatives were elected, one from civil society and one representing indigenous peoples (ibid).
Although the consultation process during the development of the REDD+ Roadmap has involved a wide range of stakeholders, meetings and workshops have mainly been held at the national level, with sub-national consultations only taking place in areas with REDD+ pilot projects, such as Oddar Meanchey and Mondulkiri provinces (UN-REDD, 2011). According to the UN-REDD National Programme Document (NPD) one reason for why stakeholder consultation was limited in this way is because the Task Force took a cautionary approach in order to avoid raising expectations amongst local communities (UN-REDD, 2011).
Additional awareness raising activities concerning REDD+ and rights and livelihoods of indigenous peoples and forest communities in general, are being carried out by a number of NGOs either directly involved with REDD+ pilot projects or through workshops and consultation meetings. The most active organisations, covering awareness raising across the country, are RECOFTC and Non Timber Forest Products Exchange Programme for South and Southeast Asia (NTFP-EP), and the CSOs REDD+ Network. RECOFTC and NTFP-EP provide awareness raising and capacity building at the sub-national level, in the form of workshops and training on the meaning and use of FPIC amongst other activities, and both support the development of regional networks to strengthen the voice and inclusion of forest dependent peoples in decision making processes. Although advocacy is not their main agenda both organisations aims to influence policy at the national level by facilitating communications between stakeholders. For example, NTFP-EP aims to bring local stakeholders to the national level to share their experiences and ultimately promote bottom-up participation in decision-making and multi-stakeholder engagement in decision making processes. The CSOs REDD+ Network was established in early 2013 and is facilitated by the Cambodian NGO Forum. The network consists of around 20 CSOs and NGOs working on REDD+ and natural resource management in Cambodia. It was established for the purpose of sharing information and supporting coordination between REDD+ stakeholders on REDD+ development and implementation and the Network is actively engaging in stakeholder engagement and awareness raising activities. For example, in April 2013 the CSO REDD+ Network organised a workshop on the topic of social and environmental safeguards for REDD+ and the concept of FPIC.
Land tenure arrangements and carbon rights
The 2001 Land Law classifies land and property laws into three categories. These are State Public Property, State Private Property, and Private Property. Most categories of forest in Cambodia are on State Public Property, including Natural Forests Waterways, Permanent Forest Reserves, and Protected Areas. State Public Property is land that is owned by the state and carries a public interest use. Land under this classification cannot be sold or transferred to other legal entities. The state may grant rights of occupancy or use to other actors, such as forest communities private companies, but these are temporary and the state can retrieve rights if contract agreements are breached. State Private Property is state owned land that is classified as excess or idle land, not currently in use for the public interest, and this land can be sold or transferred to other legal entities, such as Economic Land Concessions (ELCs). Private property refers to land that may be individually or communally owned by legal persons of Cambodian nationality only, or by legal entities registered in Cambodia where the majority of shares are owned by Cambodian citizens or legal entities. Natural forestland may not ordinarily be privately owned. Two exceptions exist, however. The first relates to forest on land that is recognized as belonging to indigenous communities under the Land Law (2001). Second, forestland may be acquired by adverse possession where persons without ownership rights clear-cut the forest for agricultural purposes for five consecutive years without formal objection by the government.
Two types of community forestry exist under the current tenure regimes. These are Community Forests (CFs), under the jurisdiction of the MAFF and the Forestry Administration (FA), and Community Protected Areas (CPA), under the jurisdiction of the MoE and the GDANCP. The Forestry Law (2002), the 2003 Sub Decree on Community Forestry Management, and the 2006 Community Forestry Guidelines, known as Prakas, provides the legal and policy framework for community forestry management in the Permanent Forest Reserves. It gives local communities the right to apply for, and manage CFs in Production Forests, where the sustainable production of timber and Non-Timber Forest Products (NFTPs) is the main objective and forest protection only secondary (UN-REDD, 2011). Furthermore it gives them the right to sustainably extract and sell timber and NFTPs for commercial purposes. The Protected Areas Law (promulgated in 2008) recognises traditional forest uses and practices of local communities within Protected Areas and enables the establishment of CPAs (RGC, 2011). The Law divides Protected Areas (PAs) into four use-zones, which are the core zone, the conservation zone, the sustainable use zone, and the community zone. CPAs mainly concern the community zone and the sustainable-use zone. The community zone includes areas reserved for settlements and socio-economic development of the local communities and indigenous ethnic minorities, including agricultural use. The sustainable-use zones are management area(s) of high economic value for national economic development and conservation purposes. These areas are used and managed according to a CPA agreement between the community and the MoE. The CPA agreement gives local communities the right to sustainably manage and use natural resources in the sustainable-use zone, in accordance with the Natural Resources Management Plan. However, no title or transferable rights are granted to local communities and collection of timber and NTFPs are for subsistence household use only, and commercial extraction is not permitted.
The Land Law (2001) and the National Policy on Development of Indigenous Minorities (2009) and the Sub-Decree on Procedures of Registration of Land of Indigenous Communities (2009) further recognizes the right of indigenous peoples’ to their traditional residential agricultural lands, and natural resources. The process of acquiring land titles for indigenous lands includes an initial evaluation by the Ministry of Rural Development, and formal registration with the Ministry of Interior. Provided the indigenous community has developed and adopted appropriate by-laws, the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction will grant them collective ownership rights over state private and state public lands (forests) (UN-REDD, 2011). Once acquired, these lands cannot be sold but can only be inherited by direct descendants (ibid).
Another sub-category of the Permanent Forest Reserves is Conversion Forests, which have been set-aside for an economic purpose. Here the State allocates Economic Land Concessions (ELCs) to private or public entities for the purpose of promoting large-scale agricultural developments, plantations, oil and mining industries. The objective is to encourage development and create employment opportunities in rural areas, and to bring additional economic benefits to the State. ELCs are regulated by the Land Law (2001) and the Sub-Decree on Economic Land Concessions (2005). According to the Land Law ELCs can be granted for a period of 99 years and can only be allocated to areas of State private land, which excludes property of " natural origin" (forests), which should be classified as public state land. However, several concessions have been made in forested areas and within Protected Areas, and in some cases, have exceeded the maximum number of hectares allowed (10,000 ha) (UN-REDD, 2011; Mather ed., 2012). One of the reasons why concessions have been allocated to Protected Areas is because of a section within the Protected Area Law (2008, section 11.3), which divides Protected Areas into a number of zones, one of which is the sustainable use zone. Here it states that the Royal Government of Cambodia may permit development and investment activities within the sustainable use zone following a request from the MoE. According to article 36 of the Protected Area Law (2008) construction of public infrastructure can also be permitted in the sustainable use and the community zones. Although the Government has taken measures to prevent both illegal allocations and violation of restrictions by companies, concerns for REDD+ persists. Mining concessions and large-scale agricultural developments represent two of the main drivers of deforestation in Cambodia. However, apart from these concerns, REDD+ is seen by civil society, amongst other actors in the country, as a positive incentive that could push the process of securing land and tenure for forest dependent communities, through the scaling up of demarcated CFs and CPA, and through the transfer of communal land titles to indigenous communities.
In terms of rights to carbon, the Cambodia REDD+ Roadmap states that all forestlands are public state property (except forests under indigenous land titles and private forests). Therefore, forest carbon on these lands also belongs to the state. The only exception is private forests where forest carbon belongs to the owners.
Cambodia has a number of laws and policies to ensure forest law enforcement. The Forestry Law (2002) defines the rules and restrictions for management, harvesting, use, conservation and protection of forests in Cambodia. It allocates law enforcement and management responsibilities to three different government agencies. The Ministry of Environment (MoE) is responsible for Protected Areas, which are managed by the General Department of Administration for Nature Conservation and Protection (GDANCP). The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) and the Forestry Administration (FA), under the MAFF, are responsible for Permanent Forest Estates, which includes Permanent Forest Reserves and Private Forests. The Fisheries Administration (FiA) under MAFF has jurisdictional management and regulatory authority over flooded forests and mangrove areas outside of the Protected Area network (with the exception of fisheries resources within the Protected area for which FiA is also responsible), including Community Fisheries Areas and Fisheries Protected and Conservation Areas (ibid). A small proportion of the total forest area covering forestland surrounding temple complexes, are managed by the Apsara Authority and other Temple Authorities (Preah Vihear Temple Authority etc.).
At the sub-national level compliance and incentives to manage forests is provided through a framework of community based forestry management. For example, in Community Forest (CF) areas the right to extract and sell forest produce for commercial purposes is granted through the establishment of a Community Forestry Agreement (CFA), which is a legal agreement between the community and the relevant forest management authority that states the purpose, roles and responsibilities of each party in terms of management of the forest resource. Signing of the agreement is the first step toward acquiring full legal recognition for the CF and the right to benefit from forest proceeds. The agreement grants communities user rights, but not ownership of the land. In order to complete the process of acquiring full legal status the community needs to complete the 11 steps that are outlined in the National Forest Programme (NFP). CFAs are 15-year renewable contracts that are intended to give communities the incentive to sustainably manage and protect forests. Once a CFA has been established, an initial 5-year moratorium on the harvesting and selling of forest products will apply. In the event of gross misconduct or breach of the terms of the agreement the state may revoke the CFA at any time.
The Community Forest Programme, as part of the NFP, provides a number of incentives for local communities to manage forest resources. For example, provided the CFA process has been completed communities have the right to keep 100% of net revenue from forest proceeds (after government royalty fees and taxes have been deducted). It also encourages the development of forest enterprise development plans. Under the Forestry Law (2002) communities have the right to stop illegal activities and report to these to the local forestry official who in turn is responsible to take legal action. However, it does not give communities the authority to confiscate and keep (or sell) any materials in the event that they discover illegal activities within the CF. Although CFAs for CF areas contain more incentives in terms of giving communities the rights to extract and sell forest produce than CPA agreements, communities managing PAs also benefit from these agreements as they provide them with more secure land tenure, access and control over the ecosystem services and the forest resources that they depend on for their livelihoods.
Another significant incentive for local communities to sustainably manage forests for REDD+ is provided in the Sar.CHor.Nor (Government Prakas) No. 699, which came into legislation during the development of one of the national REDD+ pilot projects the Oddar Meanchey Community Forest Project. The Sar.CHor.Nor 699 gives the FA the authority to manage carbon funds from the Oddar Meanchey project and states that at least 50% of all revenue generated from REDD+ projects must go to the community (Bradley, 2011). It further states that revenues from carbon sales will be used to maximise benefits to participating communities and to explore potential new sites for REDD+ pilot projects. This is a first step in national REDD+ legislation and is seen as an important incentive not only for local communities but also signals a clear commitment from the Royal Government of Cambodia (Yeang, 2010). However, it is unclear whether this arrangement will remain in place once REDD+ is scaled up.
Cambodia is still in the early stage of developing a national baseline and reference scenario for deforestation and forest carbon emission levels, also known as forest Reference Levels (RL) and Reference Emissions Levels (RELs). The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) will provide the funding, with additional support provided by the World Bank Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) and the UN-REDD Programme (RGC, 2011). In addition, the USAID Lowering Emissions in Asia’s Forest (LEAF) Programme are also expected to provide further support (Forest Carbon Asia, 2011). The FAO will provide capacity building in terms of training national experts in assessing forest cover, and it will establish the MRV/ REL Technical Team, which will report to the REDD+ Task Force. The MRV/REL Technical Team will establish a national forest inventory system and lead the development of a national RL/REL baselines and reference levels. However, first the national definition of forest cover must be established (under development in December 2012). RL and RELs will be developed for the national and sub-national levels, according to the nested approach (sub-national implementation within a national framework), that will feed into a system of interlinked baselines and a national reference scenario (RGC, 2011). The development of RLs/RELs will be based on historical data, such as assessment of total forest cover and carbon stocks, including changes over time, and will be adjusted to national circumstances (2010; RGC, 2012). National circumstances include the socio-economic context of the country, sustainable development needs, and changes in forest cover (reference scenarios). The Readiness Preparation Proposal (R-PP) states that information on socio-economic conditions will be based on a study review of all the available socio-economic data, including those related to forests (RGC, 2011).
The development of a Monitoring Reporting and Verification (MRV) system is in its very early stages. Cambodia’s REDD+ Roadmap set out initial ideas including establishing appropriate institutions with adequate capacity; developing a REDD+ monitoring system for forest carbon; and establishing a national forest inventory system. The development of a national MRV system has been tasked to the MRV/REL Technical Team, which will report to the REDD+ Task Force. The MRV system will be based on an assessment of the forest area change, using both satellite imagery to estimate forest cover, and ground based measurements of carbon stocks in different forest types (RGC, 2012). Additionally, ground truthing and surveys will be used to verify results and provide additional data. A Consultation and Safeguards Technical Team will be responsible for developing a system for monitoring co-benefits and governance indicators (FA, 2010b).The national MRV process is supported by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), and the UN-REDD Programme who will provide technical and financial support.
The implementation of a system of safeguards is one of the six key outputs to be developed as part of the Cambodian REDD+ Roadmap (UN-REDD, 2011). A Consultation and Safeguards Technical Team tasked with developing a number of safeguard components will be composed of representatives of the Forestry Administration, the General Department of Administration for Nature Conservation and Protection and, other government sub-agencies. It is also likely to include development partners and civil society. The tasks of the technical team will include establishing a consultation plan, a Strategic Environmental and Social Assessment (SESA) framework, and a monitoring system for multiple benefits, other impacts, and governance. Additionally, a Technical Team on Benefit Sharing has been tasked with the mapping of multiple forest benefits in order to facilitate the integration of REDD+ planning with other socio-economic development planning (RGC, 2012). At the national level UNDP’s social and environmental screening tool has been used to identify potential social and environmental risks. At the project level, the principle of Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) has been used by NGOs for the implementation of REDD+ pilot projects. Additionally, FPIC has been the topic of workshops aiming to raise awareness of indigenous peoples and local communities. Furthermore, the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) and the Climate Community and Biodiversity (CCB) Standards, have been used to guide the implementation of projects and to ensure co-benefits for local communities.
Cambodia’s R-PP mentions gender equality as a monitoring indicator (Section 4b and 4b.2) and recognises the limited role women’s organisations currently play in the country’s civil society landscape (Annex 1b.2). It also mentions the existence of the Cambodia Climate Change Alliance, a multi-donor programme launched in 2010 to help address climate change, which puts emphasis on women’s issues in climate change (Annex 2b.2).
More broadly, Cambodia’s National Strategic Development Plan 2014-2018 (Neary Rattanak IV) aims to mainstream gender into all policy fields. The Cambodia Gender Assessment Report 2014 was developed by the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, civil society organisations, development partners and the UN to provide an update on the current challenges and progress made. The Ministry of Women’s Affairs and the Cambodian National Council for Women are the two main state organs to promote gender equality. The latter is an inter-ministerial body. Further, there is a Technical Working Group on Gender which is chaired by the Minister of Women’s Affairs and which includes members from other ministries, civil society organisations and development agencies. The Working Group is divided into three sub-groups, namely, violence against women, economic empowerment and good governance. One step taken by the Working Group has been to install Gender Mainstreaming Action Groups in all ministries to support gender mainstreaming. As a result, a gender mainstreaming action group consisting of four different government organisations (Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Women’s Affairs, Forestry Administration and Fishery Administration) was established in 2014 to support greater gender integration in REDD+. The group has a role in reviewing proposals and components of the Cambodia National REDD+ strategy to ensure that gender issues are included. Currently (May 2015), the Ministry of Women’s Affairs is developing a National Policy for Gender Equality (CSW 2015).
An assessment of the Oddar Meanchey Community Forest REDD+ project (Bradley 2013) has shown that women are only partly involved in REDD+ activities with men taking up the majority of roles and tasks. Obstacles to women’s participation include lower literacy levels, household duties and a perception of little knowledge regarding environmental matters. However, women play primary roles in the management of non-timber forest products (NTFPs) and financial matters at the household level.
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