Effective multistakeholder processes
Multistakeholder participatory processes are fundamental to good land-use governance. For complex issues such as natural resource management, where there are a range of views, competing interests and expectations, well-managed multistakeholder processes can bridge the differences in perceptions of the diverse participants and help them reach agreement. In fact, stakeholder participation is a prerequisite for the credibility and successful implementation of REDD+ or a FLEGT Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA).
The processes established for consultation in the context of VPAs have proved to be effective, predictable, accessible and transparent. In general, stakeholders have understood how their input will be used.
The REDD+ processes also require input from a broad range of stakeholders at both a national and sub-national level to ensure wide stakeholder ownership, and that REDD+ responds to real needs. Where VPA dialogues already exist, they can potentially offer learning opportunities or even provide a basis for developing consultation platforms for REDD+ and broader land-use governance reforms.
Building on VPA stakeholder experiences in the Republic of the Congo
In the Republic of the Congo, the VPA negotiations created space for civil society and indigenous people's organisations, as well as private sector organisations, to contribute and have their voices heard. And from the start, the principle of participation has also been embedded in the Congolese REDD+ process.
Civil society and indigenous people's organisations created a platform, the Cadre de Concertation REDD+ (CACO-REDD+). This built on the experiences of the Plateforme de Gestion Durable de Forêts, created to follow the negotiation and implementation of the VPA.
The REDD+ platform allows its members to coordinate and be more effective when participating in policy debates and in the formal consultation structures such as the Comité National REDD+ (CONA-REDD+).
Engaging national and local stakeholders in FLEGT and REDD+ in Laos
The involvement of civil society in policy reform processes is particularly challenging in Laos because few non-profit associations are officially recognised and access to local communities and ethnic minorities is difficult.
Although Laos has been involved in REDD+ since 2008 and is engaged in various bilateral and multilateral REDD+ initiatives, work has taken place primarily with local communities at village, district and province level. The VPA process engaged national level civil society organisations (CSOs) and has been able to foster a LAO-FLEGT CSO Network. Civil society organisations in Laos are also part of the National FLEGT VPA Steering Committee, overseeing the VPA preparations and negotiations. Stakeholder engagement at both national level and local level is required for successful implementation of FLEGT and REDD+ processes.
With forest conversion and land-use planning at the core of the FLEGT and REDD+ processes in Laos, the LAO-FLEGT CSO Network could embrace the REDD+ agenda and help to fast-track REDD+ stakeholder engagement at national level, and also use REDD+ experience with local stakeholders to bring FLEGT VPA implementation effectively to the local level.