Civil Society Participation in the CDM process (TP Section F2)
Although stakeholder consultation is a key requirement in the CDM registration process, project developers and Designated Operational Entities (DOEs) lack clear criteria or guidance on how to conduct and validate stakeholder consultations. In many cases, peoples and communities that are directly affected are not adequately informed about CDM project activities or programme of activities (PoA) and their potential on-the-ground impacts.
Current CDM stakeholder consultation requirements are insufficient as they are poorly defined, regulated and documented. There are dozens of instances where projects were registered despite insufficient stakeholder participation, strong local opposition and clear evidence that the projects cause harm to the local populations and/or ecosystem.
As a step to address this shortcoming, Parties to the Kyoto Protocol adopted in Warsaw decision 3/CMP.9 para 20 which requests “the CDM Executive Board, with the support of the secretariat, to collaborate with the Designated National Authorities Forum on collecting and making available, on the UNFCCC clean development mechanism website, information on practices conducted for local stakeholder consultations, and to provide technical assistance to designated national authorities, upon their request, for the development of guidelines for local stakeholder consultation in their countries.”
Despite this decision by the CMP, and earlier decisions to “develop and implement modalities and procedures with a view to enhancing direct communication with stakeholders and project proponents” (Decision 2/CMP.5), the CDM Board has not taken sufficient action to address the shortcomings of the current stakeholder consultation rules. For example, at the 77th CDM Executive Board meeting, the Board decided that the Secretariat shall “inform” DNAs about decision 3/CMP.9 but did not take action to collaborate with DNAs as required per the CMP decision.
This lack of action risks that DNAs may not act upon this important CMP decision. The revised CDM M&Ps should therefore recognize the need for improved guidance and incorporate best practice guidelines for local stakeholder consultation developed by the CDM Board as part of this process in the revised M&Ps.
In addition to shortcomings in the notice and comment processes, there is no means for stakeholders to raise concerns once a project is registered even if adverse impacts occur during project implementation. The current rules do not provide a formal opportunity to provide comments after the global stakeholder consultation. This means that it is currently impossible to submit comments about a specific project, e.g. if comments submitted during the local or global stakeholder consultation process have not been validated adequately or if concerns appear after the global stakeholder consultation. This is not only relevant for projects during the validation stage but also for projects during their implementation. A formal communications channel for project specific matters would allow reviewing and addressing concerns efficiently and by doing so avoiding escalation of issues. Allowing comments at an early stage in the process, when they can still be taken into account for decisions related to registration or issuance of credits could help avoid potential future appeals. We welcome the proposed change of the technical report section F 2(d) (i), that the CDM modalities and procedures shall introduce a provision allowing the Board and the secretariat to receive information on complaints regarding issues that are not related to the emission reductions or removal enhancements of a registered CDM project activity or PoA. Such a communications channel for project specific comments should be modeled after the already successfully implemented communications channel for policy matters. In addition, a global stakeholder consultation process at the verification stage after the registration period as proposed in the technical paper section F 2(d) (ii)) would be a positive additional improvement as it would allow comments from stakeholder to follow up on earlier comments made through the local and global stakeholder consultations, it would also provide a crucial opportunity for DNAs to receive additional information about the implementation of CDM project or PoA. However, both improvements are necessary because a global stakeholder consultation during the verification period is only a punctual opportunity which does not replace a more flexible communications channel for case specific matters.
It is also worth mentioning that under the current public participation rules for the CDM, no formal channels between local stakeholders and the Designated National Authorities (DNAs) exist. Prior to registration, comments from the local stakeholder consultation are received by the project proponent, and comments through the global stakeholder consultation are received by the Designated Operational Entity (DOE). Given that it is up to the DNA to maintain the approval of CDM projecs and PoAs, and the confirmation that they contribute to sustainable development, comments received through the project specific communications channel should be forwarded to the relevant DNA.
The SD Tool enables changes to be made to the sustainable development co-benefit (SDC) report throughout project implementation including after registration. Stakeholder comments are a key source of information to know about potential negative impacts of CDM projects as reflected in the draft voluntary tool for highlighting the co-benefits of CDM projects at EB68, Annex 22. To strengthen civil society participation in the CDM process local stakeholders should have a formal communication channel to DNAs. DNAs may request project proponents to update the SDC report at any time during project implementation, should the SD benefits or negative impacts have changed since registration of the project.