July 2019 to December 2021
Civil society participation plays an essential role in good forest governance. It increases transparency and makes government officials more accountable for their decisions, thereby contributing to the consolidation of democratic processes. This in turn enhances the legitimacy of decisions and their ownership by all members of society.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is a pioneer REDD+ country, having been engaged in the process since 2008. The investment phase started in 2016 with the validation of the REDD+ Investment Plan. That same year, DRC signed a letter of intent with the Central African Forest Initiative (CAFI) for the implementation of its REDD+ Investment Plan, which sets the programmatic framework over five years of the National REDD+ Framework Strategy validated by the Government in November 2012.
One of the pillars of the CAFI letter of intent is civil society’s engagement in the development and implementation of activities under the National REDD+ Framework Strategy and its Investment Plan. Stakeholders are groups with a voice, interest or right over the forest and who will be negatively or positively affected by REDD+ activities. These include large public agencies, formal or informal forest users, private sector entities, Indigenous Peoples and other forest-dependent communities, and civil society organisations (CSOs).
The Renovated REDD+ Climate Working Group (GTCRR) is the platform of CSOs and the mandated interlocutor of CSOs within the REDD+ process in DRC. The GTCRR is therefore a key stakeholder in the REDD+-related reform processes, able to influence policy processes and decisions depending on its capacities and leverage.
The objective of the EU REDD Facility’s activities is to strengthen DRC’s civil society’s capacity for internal consultation. The aim is to mainstream civil society’s positions and priorities in the REDD+ discourse and national dialogue on forest governance, including the forest policy reform process. In particular, the Facility’s support aims to:
Civil society participation in decision-making processes in DRC faces several challenges. Consultations are often initiated and led by the government at short notice. These sessions are usually only informative, as civil society is unprepared and unable to influence decisions. Even when the decision-making process is transparent and inclusive, CSOs’ positions can diverge, reflecting a lack of prior and internal consultation. Finally, CSOs lack the capacity to develop evidence-based, relevant and persuasive policy positions and contributions indisputable by government decision makers.
The GTCRR in Kinshasa, June 2023.
To address these challenges and strengthen civil society participation in REDD+, the Facility’s activities were carried out in three phases:
Stakeholders were consulted and analysed on the objectives, deliverables and reference documents of each phase.
During the pre-consultation phase in 2019, the GTCRR organised several expert workshops, bringing together 24 participants in total, from CSO members of the GTCRR. Participants analysed existing texts, identified key areas for reform and formulated draft proposals. In May 2020, the GTCRR held additional workshops to identify the datasets to be collected and confirm or adjust the initial policy proposals.
The data collection phase at the national and provincial levels began in August 2020. It ended with a data restitution workshop in December 2020. This workshop brought together several GTCRR members and experts, who validated or adjusted the draft reform proposals. The data collected served as a basis for GTCRR’s analysis and positioning report on the forest reform process in DRC. This report went through local consultations in the provinces of Tshopo (24 June 2021), Equator (27 July 2021) and Maniema (29 July 2021).
The entire methodology and consultation process was consolidated in a guide on civil society participation, with the aim to replicate the approach in other deliberative policy processes or in similar contexts in other developing countries.