Since the inception of REDD+ in the DRC, local communities and Indigenous Peoples have contributed substantially to the REDD+ process. REDD+ is a major opportunity to promote the inclusive participation of civil society, pursuing a dual objective of sustainability and poverty reduction. In a country where close to 60% of the population lives in rural areas, the government has integrated REDD+ in its sustainable development policy.
REDD+ requires a continuous dialogue between the government and civil society, to ensure that policies and measures do not deprive local populations from accessing the essential resources they need, but instead to create new social and economic opportunities and reduce vulnerabilities. Since 2009, Congolese civil society has self-organized through a consultation and representation platform, the “REDD+ Climate Working Group” (French acronym: GTCR), seeking to constructively contribute to the REDD+ process and ensure that strategic orientations respond to the needs and expectations of local communities. This platform contributed to the elaboration of the REDD+ Strategy, Investment Plan, FIP program etc. After reorganizing and becoming the “Renovated” GTCR (GTCR-R), this platform now boasts 480 organizations involved in every province. A Provincial Steering Committee is established in each of the former DRC province, as is a Provincial Coordination responsible for liaising with members even in the most remote areas.
The importance of such stakeholders was recognized by the Steering Committee of the National REDD+ Fund. Amongst the first programs approved by the DRC National REDD+ FUND Steering Committee, on 20 October 2016, were :
Civil society continues to play an active role in developing policies and measures to implement REDD+. Major and anticipated reforms, such as the land-use planning policy, the tenure reform, the revision of the Forest policy, will require important inputs from civil society to ensure their inclusive character.
At the territorial level, integrated programs, that seek sustainable rural development, promote the elaboration of a shared vision of the management and use of land and natural resources, at the provincial and local levels. Strengthening territorial governance will be critical to the success of these interventions; local committees will be created and strengthened, and civil society will have to play a critical role in these multi-stakeholder decision bodies.
In addition, farmers' organizations, rural development groups or organizations more focused on the management of natural resources have an important role in implementing REDD+ and supporting local communities. They will be key in community forestry, sustainable agriculture, participatory mapping, land tenure clarification, etc. For example, local, participatory mapping will clarify the boundaries of village lands and help advance the registration of collective rights for the use of natural resources.
As a member of the Technical Committee and the Steering Committee of the National REDD+ Fund, the GTCR-R contributes to steering, coordinating, programming and providing oversight on all programs.
In each integrated program, civil society will play a key oversight role: at the provincial level, as a member of the provincial steering committees that will monitor the activities of integrated programs; and at sub-national and local levels, as a key stakeholder in local consultations in villages, districts and territories.