Benefit Sharing Mechanisms for REDD+ in Kenya : exploring the options
The last of the Alternatives to Slash and Burn (ASB) seminar series was presented by Audrey Chenevoy from Institut Superieur d’Agriculture (ISA) in France. She is working with others within the ASB Partnership for Tropical Forest Margins to further ICRAF’s work on the REDD+ Program. In the last 5 months, she has been exploring Benefit Sharing Mechanism (BSM) options for REDD+ in Kenya.
According to Ms. Chenevoy, an effective, efficient and equitable BSM must have a sound institutional framework, it must be well designed with clear rules and it must have a provision that allows a variety of stakeholders to participate in decision making and it must have clear delivery mechanism. Her opinion is based on her latest research on BSM for REDD+ implementation around the world. She developed a conceptual framework covering questions Kenya and other countries should try to answer when implementing a BSM for REDD+. As defined by IUCN, BSM is “Agreements between stakeholders, such as private sector, local communities, government and non-profit organizations, about the equitable distribution of benefits related to the commercialization of forest carbon”. Needless to say, many conflicting interest exist among these stakeholders. Part of the BSM is to make sure conflicts are resolved before, during and after implementation of REDD+ BSM. In this way, the wider public will perceive that people directly affected by REDD+ activities are being treated fairly and equitably. Ms. Chenevoy said “incentives and legitimacy guarantee the continual flow of REDD+ funds from donors to receiving countries”.
Benefit sharing is such an important part of REDD+ because as Ms. Chenevoy says, funds that come from the international community for REDD+ activities have to be vertically shared between central, regional and local governments (including NGO and private developers). The funds must also be horizontally shared between different communities, within communities and within households in those communities.
The Kenya Forest Service (KFS) is in charge of implementing REDD+ in Kenya with a budget of $20 000 in 2011 for BSM says Chenevoy. “Kenya has included BSM in its REDD+ Readiness Preparation Proposal (R-PP) but it doesn't have any BSM implementation strategy” she said. Her study explored possible implementation strategies that KFS may be able to use to share REDD+ benefits amongst stakeholders.
The Kenyan projects that were studied were implemented by MERECP (Mount Elgon Region Conservation Programme) in the Mt Elgon area, the Green Belt Movement in Mount Kenya and Wildlife Works carbon (WWC) in Taita-Taveta.
In Taita-Taveta (the Kasigau Corridor), WWC manages the carbon credits on behalf of the community members. The money they received from international buyers was shared equally with the community (1/3), the shareholders of the land (1/3) and WWC (1/3). The 1/3 belonging to the community was given to a group (e.g. women’s group, youth groups etc) for the implementation of an activity which will generate new incomes. For every new project that was approved for the community, a new bank account was opened for that project.
The MERECP project was a trans-boundary project on the border of Uganda and Kenya. Under a CRF (Community Revolving Fund) scheme, loans are given to community members (through twenty Community Based Organisations (CBOs)) for Income Generating Activities (IGAs) such as tree-nurseries, bee-keeping, sustainable agriculture and biogas units. The decision making procedures were very necessary and important. Each CBO receives $10,000 for the IGAs and pays cash payments to each household for carbon sequestration activities (tree-planting) and deforestation avoidance. The households receive $50/ha/year each for deforestation avoidance and a bonus of $20/ha/year if the CBO engages in additional voluntary plantation outside the protected area.
The BSM implemented by the GBM (Green Belt Movement) project in Mount Kenya is based on an agreement between GBM, KFS (Kenya Forest Service) and CFA (Community Forest Associations). Between the GBM and CFAs, there is a benefit sharing agreement stipulating that once the project is successful, benefits are divided 20% to GBM and 80%to CFA. The Movement and KFS have a MOU (Memorandum of understanding) that resulted in a license from KFS allowing CFA to do tree-planting activities on the gazetted land for a period of 60 years.
Ms. Chenevoy found that all the above projects encouraged income generating activities in one way or another. WWC has the trust of the locals partly because they have been there for 14 years while they also encourage the local groups to have a voice. At Mount Elgon, the loan system is motivating people to succeed and supplement their activities with CDM (Clean Development Mechanism) projects. While at Mount Kenya, the focus was on co-benefits brought by the restoration of the ecosystem rather than financial income.
Ms. Chenevoy also did interviews with REDD+ experts in Nairobi trying to find out solutions concerning the conceptual framework in the context of Kenya. The Kenyan stakeholders met in the study comprised of government, private sector, NGO, international and community organisations. They included Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife, Ministry of Finance, National Environmental Management Agency (NEMA), Ministry of Environment and Mineral Resources and Kenya Forest Service the only autonomous government organisation. Organisations from the private sector included GameWatchers Safaris and Wildlife Works Carbon. Marungu Hill Conservancy-CBO (community based organisation), Marungu chief and the indigenous information network represented the Indigenous and local community organisation stakeholders. Those representing international and NGO organisations were Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), UN-REDD (UNEP), African Wildlife Foundation (AWF), Kenya Forestry Working Group (KFWG) and the Green Belt Movement.
When all the stakeholders where asked about the best timing of the REDD+ benefit distributions, the responses were invariably that Kenya needs to have up-front payments to communities and the amount should be reasonable to motivate communities without jeopardizing the results expected in terms. of carbon sequestered and good management of the forest. Stakeholders warned that if payments are not realised, it may be hard for communities to carry start-up costs.
Stakeholders made it clear also that sectors such as agriculture, energy and water need to be involved in BSM because climate change is also their major issue. To the question: “do those ministries need to receive money from REDD+?” the answer is still unclear for the stakeholders. The ministry of education has a big role to play in term of increasing children awareness concerning the importance of trees.
In decision making, all stakeholders agreed that a bottom-up approach is best in Kenya and that capacity building must occur first before any further negotiations. Stakeholders clearly communicated that communities must be represented at each level of discussions and must be made aware of how benefits are to be shared.
On the question of conflict resolution, stakeholders agreed that elders should still constitute an important part of conflict resolution since they are used to solving issues concerning land. Where possible, problems should be solved at the community level to avoid the costly and lengthy procedures of the National Environmental Tribunal and courts.
The general opinion on the benefit distribution process is that it needs to go directly from national level to the CFA or CBO by using a bank account or perhaps M-Pesa. Where possible, the central government should not be involved since REDD+ administration costs will be too high.
As part of her study, Ms. Chenevoy also explored current laws and experiences in Kenya concerning other BSMs to ascertain whether they can be directly applied to REDD+ BSM. An example highlighted by her is laws concerning land tenure. Since land tenure is directly related to Carbon rights, such laws have a large impact on BSM. Ms. Chenevoy iterated that Kenya has not had a clearly defined or codified national land policy about land tenure since independence. The majority of Kenya’s forests are either in public ownership and managed mainly by KFS or owned by local communities and managed in trust arrangements by local authorities. This means a major concern with the design of BSMs is agreeing on the timing of the distribution of benefit i.e. whether it should be up-front payments and whether the government has a strong or limited role in the distribution process, and if the payments are going to be based on performance or on opportunity costs. With such decisions, she said it was vital to encourage local participation and capacity building while at the same time making sure transparency is maintained and clear Monitoring, Reporting and Validation (MRV) procedures are in place.
While stakeholders on the whole seem to have common points of view regarding the actors involved, timing of payment, transparency, decision making and recourse mechanism, key points of debate remain concerning the evaluation of the level of payment, incentives for involving other sectors and the benefit distribution process including level of payment.
Ms. Chenevoy is still in the process of analysing the results but what is clear is that there cannot be a single nationwide BSM in Kenya. Each REDD+ activity will need to have a tailored BSM. Another idea that seems to be emerging is the possible need to establish an EAC (East African Community) BSM because East African countries seem to have a number of similar climate change challenges such as charcoal burning.
The success of this study could serve as the basis of KFS’ work during the implementation of REDD+ and it could also help other East African countries in the development of their BSM strategies and even contribute to the next international negotiations concerning REDD and BSM.