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Practitioner’s guide for local stakeholder consultation – how to ensure adequate public participation in climate mitigation actions

Read guide in French and in Spanish

Over the past 20 years, global efforts to mitigate the effects of climate change have increasingly relied upon the implementation of local mitigation projects. While aiming to reduce emissions in the most cost-effective way, some of these projects have built up a record of adverse impacts on local people, resulting in the displacement of populations or the privatisation of natural resources.

A significant contributor to these negative impacts is the lack of positive interaction and collaboration between local people and project developers. Stakeholder consultations have often been relegated to a low-priority status and have been either ‘top-down’, or there have been no such procedures at all. In 2018 and beyond, project-based mitigation efforts are likely to continue to play a significant role in the coordination of international efforts to combat climate change. Robust rules for stakeholder participation in consultations therefore need to be included in the regulatory texts, which will serve as the basis for such mitigation mechanisms. This includes, amongst other schemes, the Sustainable Development Mechanism (SDM) and the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA). However, the applicability of such rules is by no means limited to projects, which issue carbon credits; all types of mitigation efforts should ensure that the views of local communities are incorporated throughout the project’s lifecycle, including in its design and implementation.

Engaging, and then involving civil society and local peoples and communities in consultations around the development and implementation of emissions abatement projects is a sound investment, and a core element of good governance. It is also a duty for States to protect their people and involve them in decisions that will impact their lives. Consultation is not a single event, but rather a deliberative process, which allows stakeholders the opportunity to participate in decision-making on an ongoing basis. Stakeholder consultations help build public trust, avoid disputes before they escalate, improve the quality of the decisions reached, strengthen compliance, and ultimately lead to better projects.

This handbook is a step-by-step guide to successful stakeholder consultations. It draws on international principles and standards as well as on recognised good practices in climate and development projects. It is relevant to everyone who needs to carry out stakeholder consultations for climate mitigation projects or is looking to buy carbon credits, including policy-makers, project and programme developers, development banks, and investors. It serves as a checklist for verifying the successful consultation of new projects, as well as existing projects, and helps ensure that proper measures have been adopted to prevent adverse impacts on local communities.

The guide builds on our long experience in monitoring and reforming the stakeholder consultation rules of the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) established under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and which to date counts 8000 registered projects. While the future of the CDM is limited, demand for offsetting credits is likely to increase in light of the coming implementation of the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA), as well as the uncertainty around the establishment of the Sustainable Development Mechanism (SDM). The wealth of experience provided by the CDM on the challenges faced in the day-to-day implementation of climate mitigation projects will remain valid for many years to come, not only for future carbon offsetting projects, but also for all other climate mitigation projects implemented through various schemes and programmes. The lessons learned from the CDM have therefore been incorporated into this guide, to help create a ‘next-generation’ approach to stakeholder consultation.

The recommendations in this guide are an expanded version of the concept note prepared by the UN Climate Change Secretariat, summarising years of input from various stakeholders on how to improve the stakeholder consultation process1. We thank all organisations that have endorsed this guide and which have contributed to the Secretariat’s note through useful comments, for their support in putting effective stakeholder consultations at the core of every project that aims to fight against climate change while upholding human rights.

More specifically, this guide contains:

• Detailed step-by-step guidance on how to conduct stakeholder consultations in a manner that promotes full and effective participation of all relevant stakeholders
• A description of relevant practices that must be taken into account, including the right to consultation; the right to free, prior and informed consent (FPIC); and the corporate responsibility to respect human rights
• Practical steps on how to put the recommendations from the Secretariat into action
• A reflection on ways to audit and validate steps taken to conduct a stakeholder consultation

This guide does not constitute a standard as such, and should not be used as such. In due course, this guide may be formulated in such a manner as to provide such a standard, subject to consultation, and following international best practice.

Read guide in French

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