Action

How to enhance DRC’s legal framework for greater civil society participation in REDD+

  • Year

    2023

  • Location

    Democratic Republic of the Congo

  • Partners

    FONAREDD

  • Budget

    EUR 9 300

  • Funded by

    EU REDD Facility

Introduction

The success of REDD+ initiatives in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) relies on meaningful and inclusive stakeholder participation. The active involvement of civil society, local communities and indigenous groups is essential because it ensures that decisions related to forest conservation and climate change mitigation are well-informed, balanced, and considerate of local realities. Participation also leads to more effective implementation, as it fosters a sense of ownership and responsibility, and it helps harness the local knowledge and expertise of indigenous communities and local stakeholders. Civil society participation also serves as a check and balance mechanism, promoting transparency in governance and project implementation.

In light of the importance of civil society participation in REDD+ processes, and upon the request from the REDD+ National Fund (FONAREDD), the EU REDD Facility of the European Forest Institute (EFI) carried out an analysis of the coherence of the legal and policy framework for civil society participation in decision-making processes relating to the achievement of national REDD+ objectives, as well as its implementation.

The objective

The study aimed to document and clarify the legal framework for stakeholder participation in the DRC in relation to REDD+ and the implementation of the second Letter of Intent of the Central Africa Forest Initiative (CAFI).

The challenge

While DRC is a party to a number of international legal instruments recognising the right of civil society to participate, these rights are formulated in a generic way and without transposition into national law, they remain a dead letter. As for the national legal framework, it has two facets. In the forestry sector, the texts are relatively complete and detailed, providing for a high level of involvement of civil society in policy making and in the implementation of programmes and projects. On the other hand, in the other sectors driving deforestation, a number of legal texts have not yet been transposed by regulation. The rights relating to the participation of civil society are therefore difficult to implement, as they are only formulated in general terms. What’s more, civil society participation is often only envisaged at project level, and not when policies are being drawn up. And the gradient of participation envisaged is much lower than that envisaged in the forest sector.

Jim Djontu, EU REDD Facility, presenting the findings of the legal study on civil society participation in REDD+ processes at the general assembly of the GTCRR in Kinshasa, June 2023.

The approach

The study was carried out by EFI’s EU REDD Facility, supported by a national consultant, between April and September 2022. The draft study was reviewed by FONAREDD and various national stakeholders before it was finalised. It consisted of two phases: a documentary phase and an interview phase.

Results and impact

The study was finalised in 2022 and was shared with FONAREDD and the Groupe de Travail Climat REDD+ Rénové (GTCRR).

The study’s results include:

  • A mapping of the existing legal requirements for civil society participation in REDD+ processes and their implementation
  • Identification of the strengths and weaknesses of the current participation mechanisms
  • Suggestions and recommendations to provide a better framework for the civil society participation process in achieving the country’s REDD+ objectives

The study’s recommendations aim to strengthen the participation processes of all stakeholders in achieving the DRC’s REDD+ objectives and the implementation of the second CAFI Letter of Intent regarding civil society participation. They are addressed to the DRC Government concerning the measures to be put in place and the documents to be adopted in order to strengthen the legal framework for stakeholder participation, address any inconsistencies and weaknesses in the legal framework, and make it more operational.

In addition, the EU REDD Facility presented its main findings at the GTCRR general assembly, which took place in Kinshasa in June 2023.