Over the past two decades Cambodia has realized exceptional rates of economic growth averaging over 7% prior to the pandemic, with persistent declines in poverty and rapid improvements in human development. Yet Cambodia faces several development challenges. Pressures stemming from Cambodia’s rapid progression as a Middle-Income Country (MIC) have tended to be resource and carbon intensive, resulting in environmental challenges and natural resource depletion. For example, forest coverage has been declining for decades, and from 2010 to 2018 shrank from 57 percent to less than 47 percent of national territory.
To sustain Cambodia’s vital ecosystems and environment, the Government has implemented environmental governance reforms. These include new policies and legal frameworks, jurisdictional reforms resulting in the creation of protected landscapes that cover 7.4 million ha of land (41% of the country), a new draft Environment and Natural Resources Code, decentralization of natural resource management functions and a moratorium on new economic land concessions. The government has also embraced the REDD+ agenda.
A mechanism for Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation, Conservation, Enhancement and Sustainable Management of Forests (REDD+), being developed through the UNFCCC, provides an opportunity to support Cambodia’s efforts to reduce deforestation and forest degradation and help to maintain and protect this natural forest. Cambodian national development policies, strategies and programmes have incorporated REDD+ as part of their strategic agendas. Guided by the Warsaw Framework for REDD+, Cambodia has established four interconnected elements as part of its national REDD+ architecture: 1) a National Strategy or Action Plan (NRS), 2) a National Forest Monitoring System (NFMS), 3) a Safeguards Information System (SIS), and 4) a Forest Reference Emissions Level/ Forest Reference Level (FREL).
Majority of the population in Cambodia living in rural areas, primality, surrounding the forest areas and depend on forests for their livelihood. Forests also have immense spiritual and cultural significance. Recognizing the critical role of indigenous peoples and forest dependent communities to the long-term sustainability and effectiveness of REDD+, the REDD+ National Programme has prioritized stakeholder engagement from its inception, with the goal of supporting the implementation of the UNFCCC Cancun safeguards for REDD+. These safeguards generally aim to ensure that REDD+ actions do not cause negative social or environmental impacts and more particularly require: “Respect for the knowledge and rights of indigenous peoples and members of local communities, by taking into account relevant international obligations, national circumstances and laws, as well as noting that the United Nations General Assembly has adopted the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples [UNDRIP]” and “The full and effective participation of relevant stakeholders, in particular indigenous peoples and local communities.”
Safeguards can be broadly understood as policies and measures that aim to address both direct and indirect impacts on communities and ecosystems, by identifying, analyzing, and ultimately working to manage risks and opportunities. Cambodia has already developed national-level REDD+ safeguards and submitted a Summary of Information on Safeguards to the UNFCCC in 2019. Cambodia has now been moving from REDD+ readiness phase towards implementation phase and finally aiming towards performance phase.
Three leading multilateral safeguard initiatives have emerged: the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) Strategic Environmental and Social Assessment (SESA); the UN-REDD Social and Environmental Principles and Criteria (SEPC); and the voluntary REDD+ Social and Environmental Standards (REDD+ SES). However, with investors in REDD+ readiness assistance increasingly more demanding in terms of environmental and social performance expected from national REDD+ programmes, Cambodia might need to explore levels of environmental and social performance beyond those committed to in the Cancun safeguards. A new nested regulatory framework has been under development which aims to regulate and monitor REDD+ projects operating across various jurisdictional scales. In addition, a couple of pilot REDD+ projects are currently operating through voluntary carbon market and through joint crediting mechanism.
Under the new circumstances, safeguards need to be modified, updated, and operationalized at various jurisdictional levels, going beyond national level to sub-nation level and/or to project level. Such a process will involve extensive consultative processes so as to achieve public acceptance in minimizing social, environmental and governance risks while avoiding too high a cost of implementation. The REDD+ Taskforce Secretariat (RTS) has been coordinating the National REDD+ Programme and some preliminary steps have been taken to initiate this process, e.g. by establishing a Technical Working Group on Social and Environmental Safeguards (SES-TWG); however, much still needs to be done.
The Guidelines require REDD+ projects to implement Cambodia-specific REDD+ safeguards. In particular, projects are required to provide an implementation plan in accordance with the operation of the nested framework and Cambodia REDD+ safeguards principles as part of its application to be entered into the National REDD+ Project Database. Project are also asked to monitor and report on the Cambodia REDD+ safeguards and submit a completed national REDD+ safeguards implementation reporting template. The template should be developed (an early draft is available) and posted on the database. Reporting to the RTS can then be used by the Cambodia government when preparing its Summary of Information on Safeguards to the UNFCCC.
UNDP has been a key partner of the Government during the REDD+ readiness phase (e.g., through the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility’s - FCPF) and will continue to provide support during the implementation and result-based payments phases under REDD+. More broadly, UNDP will support Cambodia in the design and implementation of national policies and measures to reduce deforestation and manage forests sustainably, hence contributing to the mitigation of climate change and advancing sustainable development.
As part of those initiatives, the UNDP-led Climate Promise 2.0 (CP2) is supporting the RGC to be ready for the implementation of REDD+ under the UNFCCC, facilitating consultations, reviewing, and adjusting safeguards compliance and monitoring mechanisms at various jurisdictional levels among others to enable the country to access voluntary carbon markets as well as results-based payments through the Green Climate Fund (GCF) in the near future.
The National Safeguards Specialist will perform the following key tasks:
A. Support activities related to awareness and engagement to enhance stakeholder involvement in REDD+.
B. Evaluate, identify and address gaps in the Safeguard Information System (SIS) and the required nested guidelines for REDD+ projects to implement specific REDD+ safeguards at various jurisdictional levels.
C. Contribute to producing knowledge products related to community engagement and integrating the stakeholders, including gender, indigenous people and local communities.
A. Support activities related to awareness and engagement to enhance stakeholder involvement in REDD+.
Develop an annual plan of the activities related to safeguards to address the following points:
Set guidelines and document relevant practices under the scope of REDD+ safeguards and facilitate their execution at different jurisdictional levels under a nested framework.
Establish a framework on stakeholders’ engagement, primarily, marginalized groups, such as gender, indigenous people, local communities, and youth in the revision of safeguards at various jurisdictional levels.
Support the definition of (practical and strategic) approaches that facilitate access to multiple financing sources for the implementation of REDD+ safeguards, including Voluntary Carbon Markets.
Support the organization of in-person and online meetings, consultations and events related to safeguards.
Review translation of the main reports and key information both in English and in Khmer to access diverse stakeholders.
Ensure strict adherence to approaches such as do-no-harm, gender-based, and leaving no one behind (LNOB) in all activities and those approaches are strategically incorporated in all knowledge products on safeguards.
B. Evaluate, identify and address gaps in the Safeguard Information System (SIS) and the safeguards related to nested guidelines for REDD+ at various jurisdictional levels.
Identify missing safeguard elements and gaps in the existing safeguards and SIS and nested guidelines for REDD+.
Update the existing SIS and nested guidelines, as needed, which includes data collection, compilation, synthesis, analysis and preparation of reports on Summary of Information for various jurisdictional levels.
Generate new information/data to cover gaps related to the operationalization of SIS for REDD+ Program and create an information repository with findings, updates, remaining gaps etc.
C. Contribute to producing knowledge products related to community engagement and integrating the stakeholders
- Develop three knowledge products based on REDD+'s safeguards-related activities on:
- Product 1: Blog to disseminate information about the activities and results under Climate Promise 2.0 financing on safeguards.
Product 2: Booklet on the development, treatment and promotion of safeguards in the Nested Framework and its liks with the SIS.
- Product 3: Presentation on the development and status of the Safeguards in Cambodia with general information and with special reference to four modules: Nested Framework, Market Approaches, NDC/LTS and SIS. This general presentation should be aligned with the activities under this assignment and its eventual outcomes.
- Ensure strict adherence to approaches such as do-no-harm, gender-based, and leaving no one behind (LNOB) in all activities and those approaches are strategically incorporated in all knowledge products on safeguards.
- A Master's degree with at least 3 years or a Bachelor degree with at least 5 years in climate change, environmental governance or safeguards, policy development, legal review, regulatory framework development, or strategic sustainable development.
At least 5 years of progressive experience in applying strategic environmental assessment and safeguards frameworks at a national legislative and policy level.
Experience working for and with organizations dealing with sustainable development, forest/land use and climate change issues.
Broad knowledge of global forest, sustainable landscapes and climate change debate and their emerging implications for developing countries pursuing REDD+ readiness.
Knowledgeable of REDD+ and associated safeguard mechanisms (e.g., Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC), payment for ecosystem services (PES) and other performance-based forestry financing mechanisms).
Excellent organizational skills, strong interpersonal skills, commitment to teamwork and to working across disciplines and stakeholders at all levels.
Experience in working with multi-stakeholders including the government, NGOs, private sector, and CSOs.
- Experience of implementing programmes across the UN agencies and/or across the Royal Government of Cambodia are definite advantages.
Fluency in spoken and written Khmer and English.
Interested offeror must read the Individual Consultant (IC) Procurement Notice, which can be viewed athttps://procurement-notices.undp.org/view_notice.cfm?notice_id=97130 more detail information about term of references, instructions to offeror, and to download the documents to be submitted in the offer through online.
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Interested individual offeror must submit the following documents/informationto demonstrate their qualifications:
(i) Letter of explaining why they are most suitable for the work
(ii) Proposed approach and understanding of assignment (not more than two page)
2. Financial proposal (Duly accomplished Letter of Confirmation of Interest and Availability using the template provided by UNDP)
3. Personal CV including past experience in similar projects and at least 3 references
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