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Campaign Focus: CDM needs to catch up with social standards already in place for other mechanisms

UNFCCC logo In June, at a recent Africa Regional Workshop in Windhoek Namibia, Designated National Authorities (DNAs) discussed how improvements to the role of local stakeholder consultations could be made and how sustainable development impacts of Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) projects can be monitored. Carbon Market Watch participated at this two day capacity building workshop and highlighted that best practice guidance on how to implement existing rules is still needed. This latest opportunity to discuss the shortcomings of the CDM to implement robust public participation rules was born last year at the climate change conference in Warsaw where Parties requested the UNFCCC secretariat to collect information on practices for local stakeholder consultation and provide technical assistance for the development of guidelines upon the request of countries.

During the workshop, current CDM rules were compared to the policy framework of REDD+, which includes seven robust safeguards including full and effective participation of relevant stakeholders and the Green Climate Fund (GCF), which requires that entities requesting funds have the capability to implement the GCF’s safeguards while demonstrating the capacity to manage environmental and social risks. To

To inform about how the seven REDD+ safeguards are addressed and respected, countries are currently developing respective Safeguard Information Systems. Summaries need to be presented before they can receive results-based payments. Draft safeguards currently developed for the Green Climate Fund (GCF) requires that entities requesting funds have the capability to implement the GCF’s safeguards and have the capacity to manage environmental and social risks.

The CDM has a number of existing rules on how to conduct and validate local stakeholder consultation. Yet, numerous projects in the past years have come under criticism for disregarding these rules and in the process hampering the social integrity of projects, often leading to dispute and conflict. The comparison with the REDD+ and GCF policy frameworks suggests that the shortcomings are not only caused by vague CDM rules on local stakeholder consultation but are mainly caused by:

  • the deliberate choice of participating stakeholders likely to be favourable to the project;
  • not building on existing civil society participatory structures;
  • not realising benefits promised or even threatening critical stakeholders;
  • the lack of remedy that leaves affected communities without an option to raise concerns once a CDM project is registered.

To improve the impact of CDM project activities, and for that matter, all climate mitigation activities best practice guidance on how to implement existing rules is needed. But beyond that, the CDM needs to catch upwith policy frameworks of mechanisms that are not based on offsetting but look beyond the CO2 reduction to other non-carbon benefits. The ongoing CDM reform process offers a crucial opportunity to develop this policy framework, including a robust public participation process throughout the implementation of the CDM project activity, a grievance mechanisms to address potential adverse impacts of CDM project activities and a safeguard system that includes the monitoring of sustainable development benefits.


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