REDD in Ethiopia
REDD+ is still at very early stages in Ethiopia and the institutional arrangements for managing and coordinating REDD+ activities are still in the process of being set up. In October 2013 the REDD+ Secretariat was still housed by the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) but is due to be transferred to the recently established Ministry of Environment Protection and Forestry (July 2013). Since REDD+ is being rolled out as part of the wider Climate Resilient Green Economy (CRGE) initiative some of the advisory and coordinating functions are shared between the two. The planned structure for managing REDD+ will follow the existing federal structure as follows.
A Federal Level REDD Steering Committee will provide overall oversight, advice and guidance during the Readiness phase and feedback to the REDD+ Secretariat. This committee comprises ministers from relevant sectors, high level representatives from regional government, relevant bureaus, and non-governmental representatives from academia, media, one umbrella NGO organisation and one member from a forest user group (the last is yet to be identified). The REDD Steering Committee also serves as the Technical Committee for the national CRGE initiative and both report to a Multi-sectoral Steering Committee that informs the Environmental Council and Parliament of the REDD+ and CRGE process.
The REDD+ Secretariat is the main unit for managing day-to-day REDD+ activities and for implementing REDD+ on behalf of the Ministry. This unit is headed by a REDD+ coordinator. The REDD+ Secretariat is also one of 8 Sub-Technical Committees to the CRGE Technical Committee and it reports jointly to this and the REDD+ Steering Committee. The REDD+ Secretariat is supported by the Federal Level REDD Technical Working Group (RTWG), which in turn is supported by a number of Technical Focus Groups that focus on: i) the development of a system of Safeguards and Strategic Environmental and Social Assessments (SESA) for readiness activities; ii) developing the national REDD+ Strategy; and iii) developing a reference scenario and a Measurement Reporting and Verification (MRV) system. The RTWG and the Technical Focus Groups comprises of experts and active practitioners in the REDD+ field from both governmental and non-governmental institutions.
At the regional level management and coordination will follow a similar structure to the federal level with a Regional Level REDD Steering Committee (RRSC) and Regional Level REDD Technical Working Group (RRTWG) in each region, supported by Woreda (District) Level Technical Working Groups. REDD+ focal points have been identified at 8 out of 11 regions and towns (in total 9 regions and 2 two chartered cities) to act as coordinators of the REDD+ readiness process at the regional level, and at present these will be the same as the CRGE focal points. The regional REDD+ focal points will act as an intermediary between the federal and the regional level and will coordinate implementation of R-PP activities through existing regional structures, where Bureaus of Agriculture or regional state forestry enterprises will implement and provide technical support to REDD+ activities on the ground. The regional state enterprises are semi-autonomous government institutions that generate their own revenues in order to support their operations.
Stakeholder engagement and participation
Stakeholder engagement for the national REDD+ process started during the initial stages of R-PP development. In 2010 two initial workshops were held to identify relevant stakeholders and active participants to the national REDD+ programme and to discuss specific issues of the R-PP and overall REDD+ institutional set-up. Between July 2010 and February 2011 a total of 26 sub-national workshops were conducted across 7 regions (Amhara, Oromia, Southern Nations and Nationalities, Tigray, Benshangul Gumuz, Gambella and Somali) with local institutions, and local and forest dependent communities. Additional stakeholder engagement workshops and discussions were held across the regions as part of the CRGE Strategy development, involving different sectoral agencies and NGO groups. The design phase of the national REDD+ Strategy will involve active participation of non-governmental stakeholders in the different Technical Focus Groups under the Federal Level REDD Technical Working Group, as well as participants of the REDD+ Steering Committee. The implementation phase of REDD+ will involve NGOs and local organisations currently managing forest reserves in partnership with local communities and regional government authorities. Furthermore, these actors are expected to be integral to the development of a national forest monitoring system, including monitoring for safeguards, through gathering of data and monitoring and reporting at the sub-national level (FDRE, 2011b).
Land tenure arrangements and carbon rights
In the last 40 years Ethiopia has gone through some major political changes, including a radical land reform in 1975. During imperial times land was allocated based on political support, which resulted in a predominantly feudal tenure system, especially prevalent in the southern regions (known as the gult system) (Melaku, 2003; Stellmacher, 2007). In the northern regions tenure was mainly based on a communal tenure system under customary law (known as the rist system). When the military regime (the Derg) overthrew the Emperor in 1974 and carried out a radical land reform (1975) all land was converted into public ownership and re-distributed in the form of holdings to the peasantry. The current government has maintained a system of public ownership, where all land (including forestland) is publicly owned, but holdings are allocated to individuals, private entities or collectively as communal land. According to the 1995 Constitution, which is the supreme law of Ethiopia, the right to ownership of land including other natural resources (e.g. forestry) is exclusively vested in the State and the peoples of Ethiopia (Article 40:3). It is also stated that land may not be subject to sale or other means of exchange, which in effect means that land cannot in any way be alienated and therefore any form of private or communal “ownership” in the absolute sense of the term is not possible (Tamrat, 2010). However, in recent years regional land proclamations have allowed land users to lease their lands for longer periods, in some cases up to 25 years.
The Federal Constitution (1995, Article 51:5) and the Federal Rural Land Administration and Land Use Proclamation (No. 456/2005 Article 17) assigns the right and responsibility to administer land and resources to the regions, which in turn issue subsidiary regional laws that recognise use rights in the form of private, state or communal/group holdings. So far at least 4 regional states (Oromia, Amhara, Tigray and SNNPRS with Afar and Benishangul-Gumuz still under review) have issued their own proclamations to implement the federal law and have proceeded with the formal registration of rural land certificates, which enables holders to claim their rights as stipulated in the Constitution (Tamrat, 2010). In those regions where regional proclamations to implement the federal law have still not been approved tenure rights remain informal. According to the federal and subsidiary regional laws farmers and pastoralists may acquire use rights over land free of charge for an unlimited period of time, including the right of protection against eviction from their land (Article 40: 4 & 5 FDRE, 1995). However, the State maintains the right to appropriate land if it is needed for a ‘public purpose’, in which case holders have the right to compensation for the value of the property (Article 40:8 FDRE, 1995). For communal holdings the government may reallocate communal holdings to private holdings as “may be necessary”, which weakens much of the tenure security given by the rights in the first place (Article 5:3 of FDRE, 2005).
Rural lands include forestlands, which largely fall under government ownership. However, the government may transfer ownership and management rights over un-gazetted state forests to communities, contingent on a Forest Management Plan (FMP) (Article 4:3 in FDRE, 2007). The current Federal Forest Development, Conservation and Utilisation Proclamation No. 542/2007 recognises two types of forest ownership, namely, state forests that may be under the ownership of the federal or regional government, and private forests, which may be developed by private individuals, associations, NGOs or investors (Article 3 & 4:1). Under the regional Oromia Forestry Proclamation (No. 72/2003) a third category of forest tenure is defined, namely, community ownership. The regional authorities allocate state forests in the form of concessions for the purpose of privately managed plantations, or for conservation purposes managed by regional authorities and/or NGOs in participation with local communities.
The right to use land may be disaggregated from other natural resources, and forestland that has been developed by the landholder (e.g. forest farms, plantations or planted forests) is considered as a natural resource that can be sold independently from the land (World Bank FCPF, 2012). Whether this will apply to the right to sell carbon is yet to be established, as there is no specific mentioning of carbon rights or the role of forests as carbon sinks in existing legal texts. The need of forest communities to access and use state forests for household and subsistence use is recognised in the Federal Proclamation which states that the extraction of Non Timber Forest Products (NTFPs) is permitted as long as this follows an approved management plan (Article 10.3 & 10.4 FDRE, 2007). There is no specific mentioning of the harvesting of timber or any other form of commercial development other than for NTFPs and other forest produce such as bee-keeping and wild coffee.
In Ethiopia forestlands fall under the responsibility of the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) and the Ethiopia Wildlife Conservation Authority of the Ministry of Tourism and Culture. Until recently forestry was situated within the Natural Resource Management Directorate under the Ministry of Agriculture. The need to strengthen and/or develop a forestry institution(s) was identified as one of the key recommendations of the Readiness Preparation Proposal (R-PP) and in July 2013 a new Ministry of Environment Protection and Forestry was established. This is a welcomed change as the need for a strong institution to lead and plan for the forestry sector at the federal level has for a long time been the source of discussion and critique among scholars and practitioners alike.
The Forestry “Case Team” within MoA is the main unit for developing forestry policy and laws at the federal level, but the responsibility of managing forest reserves and developing legislation to implement and enforce the federal law lies with the regional states. At the regional level forests are managed by agriculture extension officers from the regional Bureau of Agriculture or by regional state forestry enterprises (in Amhara and Oromia region only). The latter manages forest resources through concessions and through Participatory Forest Management (PFM) agreements with local communities and partnering NGOs. The overarching federal law for the forestry sector is the Forest Development, Conservation and Utilisation Proclamation (No 542/2007). In most regions, notably those with forest resources, regional proclamations have been issued to implement the federal Forest Proclamation (542/2007) and these vary from region to region.
The Federal Forest Proclamation (No. 542/2007) provides for the designation, demarcation and registration of major forestlands as state forests including providing legal recognition to privately held forests. However, to date this process has been very slow and few of the National Parks or Forest Reserves have been officially gazetted. During the 1980s the Forest and Wildlife Conservation and Development Authority (FaWCDA) undertook extensive forest demarcation to establish 58 state forest reserves, categorised as Forest Priority Areas (FPAs) (Melaku, 2003). However, this created a lot of conflict with local communities who lost farming and grazing land to these FPAs and at the fall of the military regime in 1991 a lot of these forest areas was ‘reclaimed’ by local people (ibid). Since then demarcation or a re-assessment of the forest estate has more or less stopped, partially due to lack of investment in the sector (forestry receives <10% of the overall agriculture budget) and partially due to the lack of capacity and resources at the local level to carry out such activities (Alemayehu et. al., 2013; Demel et. al., 2010; Mulugeta and Tadesse, 2010). Therefore, although a number of state forest areas have been identified, the lack of clear boundaries and weak on-the-ground enforcement has meant that these forests are in practice “open access” (Melaku, 2003; Alemayehu et. al., 2013; World Bank FCPF, 2012). In order to scale-up efforts of assessing, mapping and demarcating forest resources for REDD+ it has been argued that a federal level institution dedicated specifically to forestry is needed (FDRE, 2011b).
The Federal Forest Proclamation (No. 542/2007) provides the general framework for the sector and for enforcement at state level; however, in order for the law to be effectively implemented detailed directives and regulations are needed. In 2013- 6 years after the proclamation- these had not yet been developed. As a result, the legal framework remains incomplete. Therefore, assessing gaps in the institutional and regulatory environment is a key priority during Ethiopia’s second phase of REDD+ readiness.
In terms of incentives, the most successful incentive to date encouraging local communities to engage in sustainable forest management has been the introduction of PFM. PFM was introduced to Ethiopia in the mid-1990s by NGOs including Farm Africa and SOS Sahel Ethiopia, with support from the German Organisation for Technical Cooperation (GTZ, now the German Agency for International Cooperation GIZ), which started developing PFM areas together with regional authorities and local communities. Both the federal and some of the regional Forest Proclamations are supportive of the engagement of communities in the management of state forests. For example, Article 4:2 (e) of the federal Forest Proclamation (542/2007) promotes the encouragement of farmers and pastoralists to sustainably manage and use forest resources by engaging in PFM (FDRE, 2007a); Article 4:3 encourages communities, associations, or investors to develop PFM forest areas out of non-gazetted forest reserves by stating that such areas shall be “given” to them (implying ownership or management rights); and Article 9:3 provides communities with the incentive to participate in forest management by enabling them to share the benefits of state forest development with the relevant management authority (FDRE, 2007a).
Establishing PFM involves developing a Forest Management Plan (FMP), which states the specific uses of the forest and management activities, and a Forest Management Agreement (FMA), which outlines the specific roles and responsibilities of the participating parties. Once the FMP and FMA have been approved by the regional authorities they will transfer use and management rights to a designated community Forest Management Group (Irwin, 2007). The FMA is a legally binding contract between the Forest Management Group and the relevant regional authorities and includes details about benefit sharing arrangements between parties. An evaluation of the overall impact of PFM on forest conditions and livelihoods in Ethiopia is yet to be carried out, but studies conducted on different PFM areas have concluded that impact appears to have been positive for both components, at least for the duration of the project (Demel et. al., 2010; Gobeze at. al., 2009; Mulugeta and Melaku, 2008).
The establishment of a national reference scenario for REDD+ is at the early stages in Ethiopia. A preliminary baseline assessment and a 20 year projection of potential emission reduction levels were carried out as part of the development of the CRGE Strategy. However, reliable data on forest cover and forest cover change is lacking, and a detailed assessment and forest inventory is still needed for REDD+ implementation. Current plans for establishing Reference Levels and Reference Emissions Levels (RL/REL) will involve a nested approach, using both sub-national and national baseline data (FDRE, 2013). The same data and classification approach that was used by the Woody Biomass Inventory and Strategic Planning Project (WBISPP) will be adopted again for the forest assessment and inventory. The task of developing RL/REL has been assigned to a specific unit within the REDD+ Secretariat that will also manage the development of a system for Measurement Reporting and Verification (MRV), supported by a Technical Focus Group as part of the REDD Technical Working Group. This unit will work with other partners, such as the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) which in February 2013 launched a national forest inventory and a land-use planning project together with the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA). The national forest inventory project is expected to contribute to the national REDD+ planning process and FAO is expected to be one of the key technical partners to inform the development of national reference levels.
The development of a national Measurement Reporting and Verification (MRV) system for REDD+ is still at the planning stage in Ethiopia. Currently there is no system in place for monitoring changes in forest cover or forest degradation. Thus, REDD+ will introduce a systematic approach for measuring and monitoring these aspects. A draft MRV Roadmap has been developed by experts from the University of Wageningen, Netherlands, with financial support from the Government of Norway. Once finalised the implementation of the MRV Roadmap will be coordinated from the REDD+ Secretariat, with support from the REDD Technical Working Group, and a number of potential national and international partners have been identified to assist during the implementation phase. The same data and classification approach that was used by the Woody Biomass Inventory and Strategic Planning Project (WBISPP) will also be adopted for the development of the MRV system. The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) is expected to take a role in the Reporting and Verification aspects of the MRV system; however, this is still under discussion.
Ethiopia is at the early stages of developing a policy for addressing social and environmental safeguards for REDD+. In line with the World Bank safeguards and standard operating procedures a Strategic Environmental and Social Assessment (SESA) will be carried out and an Environmental and Social Management Framework (ESMF) will be developed. The SESA serves as an initial tool for ensuring the REDD+ Strategy does not have negative environmental or social impacts, whereas the ESMF compiles the identified safeguards into a framework for managing potential risks during implementation. A SESA Task Force will be set up within the REDD+ Secretariat to lead the development of the SESA and the ESMF, supported by a SESA Technical Focus Group under the REDD+ Technical Working Group. In September 2013 the REDD+ Secretariat published the Terms of Reference (ToR) for the formulation of the SESA and ESMF in Ethiopia.
In addition to these new developments, lessons will also be drawn from other on-the-ground initiatives as well as existing frameworks for implementing Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs). For example, in northern Ethiopia community led area closures (land rehabilitation areas e.g. protecting eroded watersheds from human and livestock use) have been implemented with special attention to environmental co-benefits, which have been duly integrated into community by-laws (FDRE, 2011b). Furthermore, lessons can be drawn from other projects such as the Bale Mountains Eco-Region REDD+ project and the Humbo Natural Regeneration project (CDM project). Both use the Climate Community and Biodiversity (CCB) Standards to inform project implementation, which put emphasis on the generation of social and environmental co-benefits (FDRE, 2011b; CCBA n.d). The Federal Environmental Protection Authority (EPA), which is the main authority for monitoring and verifying compliance with social and environmental safeguards, including EIAs, is expected to take a leading role in the monitoring of REDD+ safeguards.
The 2011 R-PP highlights the need to improve women’s livelihood security, as many are dependent on forest products (Section 2d). It mentions gender when laying out its consultation and participation action plan for the implementation of the R-PP, mentioning for example that in the review of the composition and structure of national REDD+ management arrangements, 50% of stakeholders participating in the review process should be women (Table 7). However, no women’s networks or organisations are identified in the document that may support the process.
More broadly, several plans in Ethiopia have recognised or recognise the importance of gender equality in reducing poverty and promoting development. For instance, Ethiopia’s National Action Plan for Gender Equality (2006-2010), developed following the 1995 Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action on women’s empowerment and equality, highlights the links between gender inequality and poverty. Furthermore, the Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP) promotes gender empowerment and equitable social and economic benefits to be shared amongst men and women (Section 3.7). The GTP further aims to enhance the participation of women in all governance processes (Section 7.2.3).
Research carried out on the relation between gender inequality and conservation of forest resources in Ethiopia has shown that, for example in Wondo Genet, men and women are affected by increased deforestation in different ways. Men hold more decision-making powers and have more extensive rights over forest resources than women, meaning that activities to combat deforestation need to be tailored to promote activities such as tree planting for women (Melaku 2012).
There are high levels of gender disparities in Ethiopia that, in practice, particularly affect ownership of resources, agricultural productivity, divorce and asset division. It has been observed that where women have very little customary rights, they suffer most from malnutrition and illnesses (Kumar and Quisumbing 2012). Independent sources of income (Ibid.) and secure titles to land (World Bank 2012) may help alleviate such shortcomings.
In terms of REDD+ readiness initiatives, the Great Green Wall project aims to provide alternative livelihoods for women. Financial and technical support will be given to grow vegetable crops and promote animal fattening by women (GMV 2012, Sub-programme 2.3, Activities 188.8.131.52).
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