Financial Performance, National Programme
PROGRESS AGAINST THE WARSAW FRAMEWORK
In recognition of the specific context in Myanmar with respect to conflict, civil society and indigenous peoples’ groups, the Myanmar UN-REDD national programme has invested significant amounts of time and resources on issues of conflict sensitivity, in particular in relation to issues such as consultations on the draft national REDD+ strategy, the free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) principle, the design of an SIS and a grievance redress mechanism. The importance of these issues in the Myanmar context has been recognized from the initial stages of the national programme development. As recognized in the UNREDD Secretariat’s review of the national programme document in 2016:
“During the preparation process of the national programme, the IP and CSO representatives of the Asia-Pacific constituency have fielded a mission to support their peers in Myanmar in a dialogue with government focused on strengthened role of forest-dependent people and ethnic minorities in the REDD+ process. These contributions as well as those from other consultative platforms have been incorporated into the design of both the roadmap and the national programme, resulting in highly participatory designs and set of priorities.”
A specific strategy was prepared to guide consultations with ethnic stakeholders and particularly with ethnic armed organizations. Over 50 consultation events have been held on the development of the Myanmar national REDD+ strategy in 2019 alone, including with representatives of the federal government and ethnic armed organizations, as well as non-government stakeholders. The updated version of the strategy was presented at a national validation workshop in September 2019 and the process of official approval is under way. Work began in 2019 on the development of a national REDD+ investment plan. Options to engage ethnic armed organizations in REDD+ implementation were also scoped out during the fourth quarter of 2019.
The national REDD+ strategy and the national rules for environmental impact assessment are anticipated to be the first two official Myanmar government documents to include explicit commitment to the principle of FPIC (both were in draft form at the end of 2019). In accordance with the understanding of FPIC in the context of REDD+ strategy development and implementation, the national approach to FPIC was initiated after the interventions to which consent will need to be sought have been identified (i.e. after the REDD+ strategy has been finalised). The national programme accordingly held a national consultation on FPIC in November 2019, developed a draft approach to ensuring FPIC in implementation of Myanmar’s national REDD+ strategy in December 2019 and will finalise this approach in consultation with national stakeholders in 2020. Explicit reference is made in the draft approach to the need for specific considerations to FPIC in the context of ethnic armed organizations.
After the completion of the technical assessment process with the UNFCCC secretariat, the revised FRL document was uploaded to the UNFCCC website in January 2019. The national programme continues to support the Government on the development of subsequent FRLs, as more and improved data on forest carbon pools become available and contribute to NDC development.
The development and testing of NFI design, sampling and data collection approaches were finalized during 2019, including the estimation design and data analysis approaches. The SLMS has been extended to formally include sample-based land assessment techniques, complementary to the standard wall-to-wall approaches. The uploading of NFMS data started in the fourth quarter of 2019 and will continue into 2020.
Capabilities for emission factor reporting from forests with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) tier 3 level and activity data reporting for landuse change with IPCC approach 2 are now established in Myanmar.
Following the finalization of a review of Myanmar forest management and land-use policies, laws and regulations, a national safeguards clarification was published, a draft national safeguards approach document was reviewed and submitted for endorsement to the REDD+ task force, and the final draft SIS design document was shared with stakeholders. In 2019, information needs were identified, relevant information systems and sources were assessed, and an information structure (including draft indicators) developed. Discussion on the operationalization of the SIS is ongoing. The final draft summary of information was prepared with the support of summary drafting group members and consultation with stakeholders and was submitted to Forest Department in December 2019.
Options for management of REDD+ finance – both investment finance and results-based payments – were developed and presented to the technical working group on drivers and strategy, and endorsed by the REDD+ task force. In June 2019, UN-REDD submitted to the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation a proposal for integrating mangroves into REDD+ implementation in Myanmar. Comments from the Agency were received by the UN-REDD secretariat in September 2019 and the proposal was resubmitted in December 2019.
Challenges and Solutions
The consultation process with ethnic armed organizations, necessary to ensure that the national REDD+ strategy had broad acceptance by the largest possible pool of stakeholders, and in consideration of the complex and dynamic political situation in Myanmar, proved to be more extensive and required higher than anticipated investment of national programme resources. In recognition of the evolving conflict and political situation in Myanmar since the national programme document was signed, the REDD+ strategy consultation process required an additional US$99,000, which necessitated budget revision and exploration of co-financing options from in-country sources.
The initial approach to the development of the REDD+ investment plan anticipated information on deforestation rates at subnational scales which was not available. Alternative approaches have been presented to stakeholders for consideration in order to ensure that this output is completed within the time frame.
Gender and Social Inclusion
Acting on the briefing note on gender gaps and recommendations prepared by the REDD+ task force secretariat in 2018, actions have been taken to strengthen gender inclusion within the engagement processes of the national programme. Initial consultations on the national strategy in 2017 averaged 21 per cent women’s participation; during 2019, this figure reached 42 per cent. Additional efforts are required, however, to increase women’s participation in the Myanmar REDD+ task force; of the 14 seats available, only 2 are occupied by women and no seat is reserved for a representative from a women’s and/or gender-focused organization. There is also an opportunity to increase women’s participation in the technical working group on stakeholder engagement and safeguards, where just 27 per cent of members are women (4 women, 11 men).
With respect to social inclusion, Promotion of Indigenous and Nature Together (POINT), an indigenous peoples’ organization, and Myanmar Environmental Rehabilitation-Conservation Network (MERN), a national civil society organization, continue to represent their constituencies in the Programme’s Executive Board, and other such organizations continue to participate actively through the technical working groups. Further, ethnic armed organizations remain key stakeholders in the Myanmar REDD+ national programme, since the decision has been made that REDD+ will be implemented at the national scale, and significant areas of forests are under the control of such organizations. By the end of 2019, a total of 16 consultation events had been held with ethnic armed organizations or, where such organizations are still considered “unlawful associations”, with representative organizations.
In areas under control of ethnic armed organizations, discussions were begun in 2019 on the development of ethnic armed organizations REDD+ action plans to complement the national REDD+ strategy, in recognition of the fact that, regardless of their participation in REDD+ strategy consultations, for political reasons ethnic armed organizations may not be able to formally commit to implement a strategy which is under the legal and operational leadership of the Government of Myanmar. These discussions, which will affect the implementation of the national REDD+ strategy in a large proportion of natural forest area, will continue during 2020.
The improvement of the SLMS has been supported by the Myanmar UN-REDD national programme in partnership with the SERVIR-Mekong programme, and the web-based geoportal for the NFMS will be hosted on the OneMap platform.
Linkages to SDGs
The focus on engagement with ethnic minorities continues to contribute to progress on SDG 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions) in Myanmar. The National Ceasefire Agreement calls for cooperation between the Union Government and ethnic armed organizations on environmental conservation, but there have been no examples of such cooperation as yet. Given that REDD+ in Myanmar will operate at the national level, the endorsement of specific REDD+ actions by the Union Government and ethnic armed organizations is essential. REDD+ in Myanmar will also contribute to SDG target 15.2 (By 2020, promote the implementation of sustainable management of all types of forests, halt deforestation, restore degraded forests and substantially increase afforestation and reforestation globally).