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What is the Social and Environmental Standards Initiative?

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The SES Initiative was started in 2009 to develop voluntary best-practice standards used through a multi-stakeholder process to support effective implementation and credible reporting on social and environmental performance of government-led REDD+ programs and related low-emissions land use.


Based on broad consultations and action research, the Initiative has developed guidance and tools to support countries with a participatory, transparent and comprehensive approach to REDD+ social and environmental safeguards. The Initiative has also provided a dynamic learning and exchange platform to support south-south exchanges among government and civil society organizations for the identification and dissemination of good practices for safeguards, multi-stakeholder approaches and for development and implementation of safeguards information systems.


The Initiative has evolved considerably from the initial promotion of voluntary standards to become a leading safeguards initiative for REDD+ and low-emissions land use, providing capacity building and technical support tailored to the context of participating countries and a learning network for comprehensive, participatory and transparent country safeguards approaches


Overall goal of the SES Initiative


To support the development and implementation of effective social and environmental safeguards for government-led strategies and action plans for REDD+ and related low-emissions land use to make a substantial contribution to human rights, poverty reduction and biodiversity conservation goals while avoiding social or environmental harm.


Objectives for support to countries participating in the SES Initiative

Countries participate in the SES Initiative according to the themes that are of particular interest to them. Overall, the objectives of the country support provided by the SES Initiative are as follows.

To build capacity and provide technical support, guidance and tools for:


Country Safeguards Approach (CSA)
  • managing multi-stakeholder processes for effective stakeholder participation in CSA
  • interpreting safeguards to reflect the country context, including the risks and opportunities of the REDD+ strategies and actions, and breaking the safeguards down into a comprehensive set of key elements, drawing on international best-practice standards 
  • addressing the rights and interests of Indigenous Peoples, local communities and women, and ensuring their effective participation
Safeguards Information System (SIS) – as part of the CSA
  • defining the scope and objectives of the SIS
  • assessing existing information systems, including those linked to relevant PLR
  • establishing the institutional arrangements for the SIS and the processes for stakeholder participation
  • identifying the specific information needed to assess how safeguards are addressed and respected
  • collecting, compiling and analyzing safeguards information 
  • reviewing, reporting and using safeguards information


To provide a platform for exchange and learning between governments and civil society in different countries on CSA including SIS


To facilitate the documentation, synthesis and broad dissemination of experiences and lessons learned about the design, implementation and outcomes of a participatory CSA, including SIS, to relevant stakeholders including government and civil society as well as financing agencies, donors, and the private sector.