REDD+ is complex, multi-faceted, and cuts across many sectors beyond forestry. Implemented poorly, it could exacerbate social and environmental risks such as the conversion of natural forests into plantations, inequitable benefit sharing, exclusion from decision-making and many others. As such, in order for REDD+ to contribute to Myanmar’s development objectives, it should include engagement with different stakeholders at different times for different purposes. Full, effective and equitable stakeholder engagement can promote:
- Relevance – improve the validity of REDD+ readiness and implementation;
- Ownership – increase the chance of acceptance for REDD+ strategy and implementation;
- Accountability – improve forest governance;
- Relationships – constructively avoid and manage conflicts, and build new relationships; and
- Innovation – encourage innovative ways to decouple economic growth from unsustainable resource use.
As part of its readiness for REDD+, Myanmar developed Guidelines for Stakeholder Engagement in Policies and Programmes for Sustainable Forest Management and REDD+ here. Led by the Technical Working Group on Stakeholder Engagement and Safeguards, the guidelines are a means to ensure men, women, youth, ethnic nationalities representing government, civil society, academic, private sector at all levels engage meaningfully, from the design to implementation of REDD+. It recognizes that women, men and youth’s specific roles, rights and responsibilities, and knowledge of forests, shape their experiences differently. Socio-economic, political and culture barriers can limit women, youth and ethnic nationalities’ ability to participate equally. As such, the guidelines highlight tools, tips, methods that will minimize these inequalities.
In Myanmar, different types of stakeholder engagement are used. One of the most frequently utilized type during the readiness phase is information sharing to build awareness and capacity to contribute to technical discussions related to REDD+. Another frequently used type of stakeholder engagement is consultation which seeks stakeholders’ feedback for a wide-range of topics. As Myanmar prepares to implement its National REDD+ Strategy and seek results-based payments, more participatory types of engagement will be designed, such as collaboration between multiple parties to implement REDD+ interventions.