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Countries need to take measures to mitigate social and environmental risks and promote key benefits of REDD+ during the implementation of REDD+ activities in order to meet UNFCCC requirements on safeguards. They also need to provide information on how safeguards are being addressed and respected. To support countries to develop these capacities, the UN-REDD Programme Africa regional knowledge exchange on country approaches to safeguards was held 17-19 June 2015 in Nairobi, Kenya.

The event brought together 33 participants from 19 African countries, and three participants from Costa Rica, Mexico and Vietnam. It provided national REDD+ focal points and safeguards experts, joined by representatives of civil society and indigenous populations, the opportunity to share experiences and jointly build capacities on country approaches to the Cancun safeguards.

The exchange was organized into three thematic days: country approaches to safeguards; addressing and respecting the safeguards through policies, laws and regulations; and safeguards information. It aimed to support participants in understanding and responding to UNFCCC decisions on safeguards for REDD+ while facilitating the south-south exchange of experiences and lessons learned on building country approaches to the Cancun safeguards.

Through a mix of presentations, sharing of country experiences and interactive sessions, the exchange aimed to foster sharing of lessons learned and best practices on the specific areas of safeguards-relevant policies, laws and regulations, safeguards information systems, and summaries of information – both within and beyond the African region.

An entry and exit self-evaluation of participants’ knowledge on key thematic areas illustrated an overall increase in participants’ understanding following the exchange (see picture below). The workshop evaluation singled out the clarification of the Cancun safeguards in the national context and the identification of benefits and risks of REDD+ policies and measures as areas that were well understood, while the design of a safeguards information system and a summary of information were perceived as areas where further learning was needed.

Eighty-five per cent of workshop participants highlighted the opportunity to learn from other countries’ experiences particularly valuable. The “diversity of experience” was perceived as enriching, with countries at different stages of safeguards work. Participants found the workshop provided relevant tools and guidance for further development of country approaches to safeguards.

“My country has done a lot of good work on addressing safeguards, but the respecting aspect is yet to be done. This workshop has provided a lot of useful guidance on the way forward,” noted one surveyed participant.

Another participant welcomed the “opportunity to evaluate our level. We are going back with a lot to do”.

The value of building a network was referred to by many: “We now have a network to exchange information and ask for help.” A dedicated discussion topic in the UN-REDD Programme Online Collaborative Workspace discussion forum allows participants to continue this exchange online. Join the Workspace here to take part in this dialogue.

The experiences shared and lessons learned are being condensed into a lessons learned brief and a video, and will be made available here in French and English. 


Entry and exit self-evaluation of the level of knowledge on developing country approaches to safeguards, addressing and respecting the safeguards and safeguard information system. Round stickers mark pre-workshop self-evaluation, while star-shaped stickers illustrate post-workshop perceptions.  


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