Turning Opportunities Into Problems

The REDD+ Partnership has spent hours and days agonising on whether and how to involve stakeholders in the decision on how they should participate in the Partnership’s deliberations. This has proved far more controversial than one would expect in a voluntary partnership.

Originally an item to be discussed and resolved last Saturday and Sunday in meetings prior to the current UNFCCC session, under the inept chairing of Papua New Guinea and Japan this issue was held over to Monday and yet again to Tuesday.

Then, despite the fact that almost every partner in the room wanted to resolve the stakeholder participation question first, the co-chairs fell back on the excuse that the Partnership must operate by consensus, side-stepped the issue and pressed forward to other matters.

ECO has been observing this unfolding drama with fascination and growing alarm, and has a simple point to make.  Consensus is not the same as unanimity.  It doesn’t mean that everyone has to agree fully with everything; it means reaching a decision that everyone can live with. Under that definition there was a working consensus in the room, as indicated in statements by well more than a dozen partners, all voicing similar opinions on moving the agenda.

Many in civil society use the principle of consensus all the time and know how to do this stuff, just as with participation and consultation and representation and empowerment and capacity building and a whole host of other things that REDD needs. To which is added substantive expertise from decades of experience working on forest and land use issues. 

Civil society can be, and wants to be, an asset in the REDD+ Partnership process. Why are the co-chairs treating that as a problem not an opportunity?

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