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Designing Meaningful Participation for REDD+ in Ecuador

Ecuador's Participatory Governance Assessment for REDD+ is laying the groundwork for inclusive, action-oriented evaluation of governance in the REDD+ sector.
By: Danae Issa

"Participation" is not a new concept in Ecuador. Since 2008 participation is recognized by Fundamental Law, and government entities such as the Ministry of Environment have or are developing formal structures for participation of all parts of society including national and local NGOs, Indigenous Peoples, business sector, academia, international organizations present in the country, and others. Yet ensuring meaningful and effective participation of all Ecuadorian citizens is proving to be a great challenge, in spite of the highly favorable political and legal environment around it and the concrete efforts to establish structures for it.

This context seems to have led to what some describe as an "epidemic of committees and meetings" and a certain sense of fatigue. But the cause of this might be that participation ought to be more than a well-advertised concept, or even a "Fundamental Law" and a formal structure. In fact, even if its intrinsic value is undeniable in relation with political and civil rights, participation can hardly be effective as an end in itself. Meaningful participation can only happen when the purpose and outcome of it is tangible to those who are offered the opportunity to participate. Being invited to join a committee or a meeting becomes little more than just another cumbersome process if the function of that committee, the outcome of that meeting or the follow-up actions are not clear and guaranteed.

The Participatory Governance Assessment for REDD+ (PGA) that Ecuador is undertaking, under the leadership of the Ministry of Environment (Ministerio del Ambiente – MAE) with support from the UN-REDD Programme , intends to break through this relative skepticism around the concept of participation, by facilitating meaningful ways of participation towards a legitimate, inclusive and action-oriented assessment of governance in the REDD+ sector. The difference that the PGA can make here comes from the fact that all stakeholders, State and non-State, national and local, are to be included in the process in all its steps, from the choice of priority issues to focus on, to the selection of indicators and data collection methods to be used, to the production and dissemination of assessment results and until the institutionalization of the assessment mechanism. Nothing in this process is pre-determined, neither the specific governance issues that should be assessed, nor any of the indicators that should be used, nor even the actual management structure for conducting the assessment – the only condition is that it includes all key actors at equal level of decision to ensure the legitimacy, country relevance and accuracy of the assessment.

Ecuador has now moved forward in this pioneering experience (for which the first exploratory steps had been taken in late 2011). To ensure the inclusion of a wide array of points of view and realities as well as the legitimacy of the process, thorough consultations have been implemented for the design of the initial roadmap of the PGA – before the start of the PGA itself. Starting from June 2012, with the help of a national facilitator, individual interviews have been conducted with key people from different government institutions, REDD+-related private businesses, civil society organizations, indigenous peoples and other. On 24 August 2012 a national workshop with members of all these different constituencies was held in Quito to discuss the PGA’s specific objectives, thematic areas of focus and operational management structure. The note describing in detail the contents, process and practical arrangements of the PGA for REDD+ in Ecuador is currently being revised with the inputs from this workshop. Additional consultations are also scheduled to be conducted at the local level in REDD+-relevant provinces of the country, and a follow-up meeting will be held to validate the revised version of the note with all those who contributed to it.

The participants of the Quito workshop in August have expressed a revival of hope and rise of expectations concerning the meaningfulness and outcome of their “participation” in this process. The only way not to disappoint them is to ensure a meticulous, transparent and prompt follow-up on the workshop recommendations, and eventually the implementation of the results-oriented roadmap that is being elaborated with their input. The success of the PGA unmistakably depends on the active contribution of all the stakeholders gathered around the table, with shared responsibility among all of them for the process and its results. However, the consistent and productive engagement of all will require for those in charge of coordinating the process (the MAE with UN support) to make sure to give the others good reasons to spend time and energy participating in it. Story to be followed…

The report of the Quito workshop of 24 August 2012, as well as the Ecuador PGA Concept Note including participants’ inputs will be available soon on Ecuador's country page of un-redd.org.

Based on conversations with several Ecuadorian stakeholders consulted before and during the UN-REDD/OGC mission to Ecuador in August 2012.

The PGAs are jointly supported by UNDP and FAO, and draw upon technical resources and expertise from the Oslo Governance Centre (OGC) on governance assessments and from FAO on forest data collection.

Danae Issa is a Programme Analyst for UNDP's Global Programme on Democratic Governance Assessments, based at the Oslo Governance Centre in Norway.

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In this issue


New Civil Society, Indigenous Peoples Observers Selected for UN-REDD Policy Board

Zambia Strengthens its Monitoring and MRV Systems with New Assessment

Viet Nam Shares REDD+ Lessons with Myanmar and Cambodia

DRC Advances Work on REDD+ Safeguards and Multiple Benefits

UN-REDD Workshop Round-Up

Features & Commentary

Nigeria Engages Further in Forest Conservation and Green Development
By: Josep A. Garí 

Indigenous Peoples in Asia-Pacific Call for a Strengthened Role in REDD+
By: The Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact

Designing Meaningful Participation for REDD+ in Ecuador
By: Danae Issa 

Reports & Analysis

Viet Nam Releases New REDD+ Reports on Phase 1 and Awareness Raising

Two New Go-REDD+ Issues from UN-REDD in Asia-Pacific

Looking ahead

World Forest Week
24-28 September, 2012: Rome, Italy

Regional Forum on Anti- Corruption and REDD+
1-3 October, 2012: Lima, Peru

REDD+ Day at CBD COP11
16 October, 2012: Hyderabad, India

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