REDD in Malaysia
The coordination and management of REDD+ is led by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, which has designated a REDD+ Unit within the Ministry for overseeing the process. Other Government agencies that provide guidance and advice on REDD+ include the Economic Planning Unit, the Forestry Departments, the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Plantation and Commodities among others. Inter-ministerial councils such as the National Land Council, the National Biodiversity Council, the National Water Council and the National Climate Change and Green Technology Council are also key institutions for coordinating matters related to natural resource management. Policies related to forest management and land use are the responsibility of the National Land Council specifically.
The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment has formed a National Committee on REDD+, which will act as the key coordinating body for REDD+ in Malaysia, directing the national REDD framework and the management coordination of representative agencies. The National Committee on REDD+ is formed of various Government agencies including the Economic Planning Unit, State Forestry Departments and the Department of Town and Country Planning. In Sabah, a state REDD+ Operational Taskforce and state REDD+ Technical Committee is operational to oversee REDD+ implementation, and are made up of various Government agencies and NGO organisations. At the state level, the Sabah Forest Department and Forest Department Sarawak are responsible for implementing forestry and REDD+ in their respective jurisdictions.
Stakeholder engagement and participation
Malaysia has held a series of consultative workshops on the REDD+ institutional framework in February and August 2012, which were attended by various stakeholders including government agencies, international institutions and NGOs. Participants were invited to contribute on issues related to the development of REDD+ such as an institutional framework, sustainable financing and MRV in relation to the development of an institutional framework for REDD+ implementation. In Sabah, stakeholders including Government agencies and NGOs are part of the State REDD+ Operational Taskforce and State REDD+ Technical Committee.
Land tenure arrangements and carbon rights
Forest land in Malaysia is classified into Protected Areas, which include Permanent Reserved Forests, National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries, and State Land Forests which are non-permanent reserves. In Malaysia, according to the National Forestry Policy, Permanent Reserved Forests are classed into their relative functions including protection forests, production forests, amenity forests, or research forests (FDPM, Online). The provisions of the National Forestry Policy are applicable in Sabah, and Sarawak has its own Forest Policy which delineates forest lands into equivalent classifications.
According to the Forest Resources Assessment, 98% of forests are owned by the Government with the remaining 2% owned by private entities (FAO, 2010). In Peninsular Malaysia, native peoples (Orang Asli) rights are protected under the Aboriginals People Act (1954) that provides for the protection of the indigenous peoples through the delineation of aboriginal Malay Reservation land. Adat Law is a form of customary legislation based on traditional rules that protects native Malay land from title conversion, and is upheld against the National Land Code (1963) and the Land Acquision Act (1960). In Sabah and Sarawak, land tenure and rights are clarified through the Land Ordinance Enactment (1975) which recognises Native Customary Rights and traditional customary Adat laws. In Sarawak, rights and tenure are legislated in the Land Ordinance and Land Code (1958), and various amendments, which set out Native Customary Lands and Reserves.
As the National REDD+ Strategy is under development, issues relating to rights and tenure for REDD+ have yet to be fully considered. The National REDD+ Strategy covers how safeguards and benefit sharing systems will be formed. Sabah’s REDD+ Roadmap sets out that an FPIC guideline and a benefit distribution system should be agreed on by 2014.
Malaysia practices Reduced Impact Logging and Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) to limit the impact of forestry activities. In terms of forest certification, Malaysia complies with the internationally recognised Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and has developed national certification through the Malaysian Timber Certification Council (MTCC). The Malaysian Timber Certification Scheme began in October 2011, based on International Tropical Timber Organisation (ITTO) criteria and indicators. All forests in Peninsular Malaysia are certified under the MTCC-FSC accreditation scheme. In addition, the Sabah Forest Department aims for all forestry concessions in Sabah to be certified by the FSC by 2014.
Malaysia entered into negotiations for a Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) with the European Unions’s Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) process in January 2007, to regulate timber trade from Malaysia to the EU. Malaysia is a member of the International Tropical Timber Organisation (ITTO) as a producer country, and signed the International Tropical Timber Agreement (ITTA) in 1994 and reaffirmed in 2006, supporting the sustainable management and trade of tropical forests and timber.
Malaysia’s National REDD+ Strategy covers the development of a reference level, which is expected to be completed by 2013. Sabah’s REDD+ Roadmap reports that sub-national Reference Emission Levels (REL) will also be completed by 2013. There is no current information on the development of reference level for the state of Sarawak.
Malaysia has conducted National Forestry Inventories in Peninsular Malaysia every ten years, with data dating from 1970, up to the most recent 2011 to 2012 inventory. These inventories provide information for forest management decisions at the national level. At the state level forest inventories in Sabah began in 1969 under the Canadian Bilateral Aid Programme (Colombo Plan) and continued in 1986, through the State Forest Department of Sabah, with the assistance from UNDP/FAO. FAO conducted a forest resource inventory in Sarawak between 1969 to 1972 under the Forestry and Forest Industries Development Project and the State Forest Department of Sarawak has since been carrying out forest inventories on different forested areas annually (FAO, 2007).
The National REDD+ Strategy will consider the MRV methodology during proceeding implementation steps. The National Forest Inventory will support the assessment of carbon stock emissions and of forest degradation. Sabah identifies MRV as a priority action for implementation from 2011 to 2013.
Malaysia is at the early stages of discussions surrounding safeguards for REDD+. Recent consultative workshops on the proposed REDD+ institutional framework in February and August 2012 recognised safeguards as a priority for development, however no formal agreement on the structure of safeguards for REDD+ has been reached. As a signatory to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and to the Cartagena Protocol, guidance for safeguarding ecosystems and improving biodiversity from these agreements will also support the implementation of Social and Environmental Safeguards (SES) for REDD+. In Sabah, SES are two of the main pillars within their state level REDD+ implementation framework.
As of November 2015, Malaysia had not published a national REDD+ strategy and was not a participant in the FCPF. Information in English on gender in REDD+ is limited, does not go into detail, and is scattered across various resources.
By virtue of a 2001 amendment to Article 8(2), the Federal Constitution, which is the supreme law, prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender in any other laws. Malaysia developed the National Policy for Women in 1989 and the Plan of Action for the Advancement of Women in 1997. Both were reviewed in 2009 with the aims of integrating women into all sectors of national development, and promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment. The main objectives of the National Policy on Women are to ensure an equitable sharing for women in the acquisition of resources, information, opportunities and benefits of development. The action plan underpinning the National Policy of Women aims to increase public awareness and sensitivity towards issues relating to women (Government of Malaysia, 2015).
A short UN REDD summary of progress towards a national REDD+ strategy for Malaysia explains that the first part of the process was to match existing policies and measures to REDD+ requirements (UN REDD, 2015a). The key existing measures include the National Forest Policy (1992): the Government’s English language overview of this policy does not mention any gender issues (Forestry Department Peninsular Malaysia, 2015). A second policy named in the UN REDD summary is the National Policy on Climate Change; this has ‘effective participation’ as a principle, and the glossary includes women among the groups to which this refers. A further policy on which REDD+ actions are expected to build is the Tenth Malaysia Plan, 2011–2015, which has a section on empowering women to enhance their economic contribution (Government of Malaysia 2011, chapter 4, p 178-181). This recognises that despite high educational attainment among women, they are underrepresented in the workplace, in management positions, and in government. Actions to address this include training, tackling discrimination, encouraging flexible working, a quota for government positions, and a special committee to implement gender sensitisation in the public sector.
Safeguards are the focus of another short summary by UN REDD, which does not mention gender (UN REDD, 2015b). This shows that the country is taking a similar approach to safeguards as it is to a REDD+ strategy, namely relating the Cancun safeguards to existing national policies and measures. In this case, the key named measure is the’ Malaysian criteria and indicators for forest management certification (natural forest)’ (Malaysian Timber Certification Council, 2011). Although the principles underlying these criteria and indicators include tenure, indigenous people and community relations, none of the 97 indicators or 307 verifiers address women or gender. Also on safeguards, a UN REDD presentation shows that the national safeguards information system was expected to be developed during 2015, including consultations and FPIC processes. This presentation lists gender representation as one of five challenges in the process of providing safeguards information (UN REDD, 2015c).
Early efforts on REDD+ readiness were financed by UNDP, from 2011-2013. Limited documentation is available on the outcomes; however, it is clear the project intended to result in draft national REDD+ frameworks, which as of November 2015 are yet to be published. The project document mentions women briefly, for example that during development of a draft national policy and legal framework for generation of revenues from forest carbon and ecosystem services, ‘the benefits of indigenous people, women and local communities must be considered at any stage of the process [sic]’ (UNDP, 2011, p.10). It was also anticipated that the FPIC process would look at the role of gender in natural resource management, to ensure that women participated and their interests were considered (UNDP, 2011, p.10).
Within Malaysia, Sabah State is relatively advanced in REDD+ planning. UNDP support for REDD+ was taken forward for 2012-2018 as a component of the project for ‘Biodiversity conservation in multiple-use forest landscapes in Sabah, Malaysia’. Although the project document mentions equitable benefit sharing, local involvement and capacity building (p47), neither gender nor equity feature in a paragraph on social sustainability (p83), nor in the stakeholder involvement plan (annex 2), nor in tables of risk factors (table 11) and project indicators (table 10 and p.63) (UNDP, 2012).
Also in Sabah, the EU is funding a project on ‘Tackling Climate Change through Sustainable Forest Management and Community Development’. A project planning document recognises the importance of women as agents of change in Malaysian communities. A paragraph on cross-cutting issues states that all stakeholders, including women, are to be involved in consultation processes. Through a participatory approach, the project aims to improve livelihoods for men and women (European Commission, 2012). A later presentation shows that the project focuses on community-based forest management and REDD+ in three pilot sites, but is facing various challenges, including the development of REDD+ strategies, plans and social safeguards that address gender, and ensuring that REDD+ improves women’s wellbeing in the long term (Martin et al, 2014).
The Project Document for the Third National Communications to the UNFCCC and Biennial Update Reporting for Malaysia (UNDP, 2014) refers to the need for social impact assessments to promote gender equality, for both adaptation to climate change (p20) and mitigation (p22). It also has a small section recognising the need to mainstream issues of gender and vulnerable communities into the project, including ensuring that women as consulted and represented in workshops (p29-30).
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