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Liberia Woman Picks Up FreshwarterSafeguards ensure that social and environmental issues are taken into account in design, implementation and evaluation of activities. Safeguards aim at avoiding potential risks and social and environmental damage resulting from activities and ensuring social and environmental benefits from activities and adoption of good practices.

The application of safeguards requires to first identify potential risks and benefits – direct and indirect - and potential good practices to protect against harm and promote benefits. Based on this analysis, policies, measures and institutional procedures are implemented to protect against adverse effects or undesirable social or environmental impacts and to promote good practices that facilitate positive impacts and sustainability.


REDD+ Safeguards under the UNFCCC

To address potential social and environmental risks of REDD+ such as loss of biodiversity, land grabbing, loss of livelihoods and promote multiple benefits including improved governance and livelihoods and increase in biodiversity, Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) have agreed that seven safeguards should be promoted and supported when undertaking REDD+ activities. These safeguards were agreed at the UNFCCC Conference of Parties (COP) in Cancun in December 2010 and are known as the ‘Cancun safeguards’ (Decision 1/CP.16 Appendix 1 Paragraph 2).


Cancun Safeguards


  When undertaking the activities referred to in paragraph 70 of this decision, the following safeguards should be promoted and support:

(a) That actions complement or are consistent with the objectives of national forest programmers and relevant international conventions and agreements
(b) Transparent and effective national forest governance structures, taking into account national legislation and sovereignty;
(c) Respect for the knowledge and rights of indigenous peoples and members of local communities, by taking into account relevant international obligations, national circumstances and laws, and noting that the United Nations General Assembly has adopted the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples;
(d) The full and effective participation of relevant stakeholders, in particular indigenous peoples and local communities, in the actions referred to in paragraphs 70 and 72 of this decision;
(e) Actions are consistent with the conservation of natural forests and biological diversity, ensuring that actions referred to in paragraph 70 of this decision are not used for the conversion of natural forests, but are instead used to incentivize the protection and conservation of natural forests and their ecosystem services, and to enhance other social and environmental benefits;
(f) Actions to address the risks of reversals
(g) Actions to reduce displacement of emissions


In addition to the safeguards agreed under UNFCCC, countries may want to define their own safeguards to address country-specific social and environmental risks and/or to promote social and environmental benefits of the implementation of REDD+ such as equitable sharing of benefits or contribution of REDD+ to the objectives of sustainable development of the country.