Capacity Building of Local Communities (LCs) and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) on REDD+ in Nepal

Executing Agency: Federation of community Forestry Users Nepal (FECOFUN)

Implemented by FECOFUN (Federation of Community Forestry Users Nepal) from February 1, 2022 to February 28, 2023, the overall objective of the sub-project was to enhance the knowledge and capacity of local communities and their representative CSOs including IPs, Dalits, women, Madhesi, Muslims, and youth on REDD+, ERP and BSP, along with the relevant instruments to roll out the process of Emission Reductions Payment Agreement (ERPA) in the country. Activities were implemented in all 13 ERP districts of Nepal, in close coordination with the REDD Implementation Center, the Divisional Forest Offices in the ERP districts, and the other two sub-grantees of Tebtebba – namely, Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities (NEFIN) and Himalayan Grassroots Women’s Natural Resource Management Association (HIMAWANTI). FECOFUN closely collaborated with similar initiatives, including the World Bank’s EnAble project, resulting in increased synergy, especially during the development of pertinent resource materials on ERP and REDD+.

Capacity building of LCs and CSOs

The capacity building events included a training of trainers and six national-level, two provincial-level, 25 municipality level and 26 community-level trainings, workshops, and interactions programs. Furthermore, 24 district-level multi-stakeholder meetings involving divisional forest offices, local governments and forest user groups were organized during the project period. These events included direct participation of over 2,000 LCs and CSO representatives. A ‘cascade’ model was adopted for the capacity building of local communities. It involved the development of the community leaders from each of the ERP districts as trainers, who were then mobilized for the community level trainings. As ERPD and BSP are developed in English language, the project developed a training manual on REDD+, ERP and BSP in Nepal language to support knowledge sharing. Similarly, the executive summaries of REDD+ documents, namely the National REDD+ Strategy, ERPD and BSP were translated in Nepali language, and were used in trainings. A visual guide on BSP was also prepared and used during the trainings. The resource material developed by WorldBank’s EnAble project (a booklet on ERP and BSP) in Nepali language using comical characters and graphical presentations was used during community level trainings. ANSAB established the connection of the sub-project with the EnAble project, where they discussed on the community level capacity needs during the preparation of the resource material.

Meetings with the national REDD+ decision making entities

During the project period, FECOFUN organized four meetings with the Ministry of Forests and Environment, including two separate meeting with the REDD Implementation Center. In the first meetings with the Ministry (on March 2022) and the REDD Implementation Center (on February 2022), the subproject shared the plan of activities, sought their support to carry out capacity building activities at the community, provincial and federal levels. This resulted in the participation of the federal government representatives in three national level events, namely: the training of trainers, workshop on operationalization of Forest Development Fund (FDF) and interaction on Safeguards Information System (SIS).

In other meetings, FECOFUN shared with these government entities LCs’ concerns regarding policy processes. The “final” version of the Benefit Sharing Plan (BSP 2022) was deviated from previous advanced draft regarding benefit sharing arrangements to the local communities. FECOFUN sent letter to the Ministry of Forests and Environment with the concern and reservations in the final plan. In response to this, the REDD Implementation Center organized meeting with the FECOFUN in June 2022 and shared that it would address the local communities’ concerns. In the amended final version of BSP, the fund allocation of the ER payment for covering the transaction cost through government budgetary system has been reduced from 20% to 15%, and the amended final version is under the process for approval from the government of Nepal.

Similarly, there were reservations from the CSOs on Nepal’s Forest Regulations 2079 as it didn’t address the issues related to benefit sharing mechanism from the ER programs. FECOFUN raised and discussed this issue along with other concerns with national level CSOs. Consequently, 21 CSOs came together and issued a 16-point joint statement on July 8, 2022 about the issues posed and ensuring community rights in Forest Regulations. FECOFUN and the Ministry met in October 2022, in which FECOFUN highlighted the major points of the joint statement. The Ministry has been compiling feedbacks from other organizations working in the forestry sector as well for the refinement of the Regulations.