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The REDD+ Social & Environmental Standards provide a comprehensive framework of principles, criteria and indicators along with Guidelines for their use through a participatory and transparent approach at country level. The Standards and the accompanying Guidelines were developed by the REDD+ SES Initiative through an inclusive participatory process from 2009  to provide a best-practice framework that can be used on a voluntary basis as appropriate and relevant to the country context.


REDD+ SES Principles, Criteria and Framework for indicators


The REDD+ SES principles, criteria and framework for indicators break down the Cancun safeguards into key constituent elements, with special attention to best practices related to the rights of Indigenous Peoples and local communities including free, prior and informed consent, effective participation of women and vulnerable and marginalized groups, equitable benefit sharing, and enhancing biodiversity and ecosystem service priorities. The standards can be used to support a country interpretation of safeguards, helping to identify the important constituent elements for the country context. They can also be used to build stakeholder (both government and civil society) capacity to understand detailed issues related to safeguards.

Principles, Criteria and Indicators


The REDD+SES principles, criteria and indicators identify the issues of concern that define expectations for high level of social and environmental performance:


  • Principles provide the key objectives for high social and environmental performance of REDD+ strategies and activities


  • Criteria define the conditions to be met related to processes, impacts and policies in order to deliver the principles.


  • Indicators define quantitative or qualitative information needed to show progress achieving a criterion.
    • REDD+SES Version 2 separates the indicators into:
      • 'essence' of an indicator - the core idea – followed by
      • 'qualifiers' - key elements of quality describing important aspects of process or outcome, important elements that should be addressed in the scope of the indicator and other specific points that must be taken into account.

At the indicator level, there is a process for country-specific interpretation to develop a set of indicators that are tailored to the context of a particular country. For this reason the international version of the standards includes only a "framework for indicators" that is intended to guide the country-specific interpretation process rather than provide specific indicators that must be used in each country.

REDD+SES Principles


Principle 1. The REDD+ program recognizes and respects rights to lands, territories and resources.

Principle 2. The benefits of the REDD+ program are shared equitably among all relevant rights holders and stakeholders
Principle 3. The REDD+ program improves long-term livelihood security and well-being of Indigenous Peoples and local communities with special attention to women and the most marginalized and/or vulnerable   

Principle 4. The REDD+ program contributes to good governance, to broader sustainable development and to social justice
Principle 5. The REDD+ program maintains and enhances biodiversity and ecosystem services
Principle 6. All relevant rights holders and stakeholders participate fully and effectively in the REDD+ program
Principle 7. The REDD+ program complies with applicable local and national laws and international treaties, conventions and other instruments 


  REDD+ Social & Environmental Standards Version 2 (September 2012)
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REDD+ SES Guidelines


The ten-step, multi-stakeholder process of the Guidelines for Using REDD+ SES at Country level provides guidance on best practices to ensure effective stakeholder participation in interpreting the Cancun safeguards, identifying and adapting indicators, developing a monitoring plan, in collecting, compiling, assessing and reviewing safeguards information. This participatory approach helps stakeholders to understand and track safeguards in a comprehensive way and helps the government to develop effective collaboration with stakeholders on interpretation and provision of information on safeguards, thereby reinforcing the credibility of the safeguards approach and reporting. 


The ten-step REDD+ SES process has three core elements: governance (steps 2-3, interpretation (steps 4-6) and assessment (step 7-10).


process guidelines  

guidelines v2


REDD+ SES V2 Guidelines for the use of REDD+ SES at country level
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REDD+ SES International Review      


REDD+ SES International Review assesses the quality of the process followed to assess how safeguards are addressed and respected in the country in relation to governance, interpretation and assessment, i.e. the ten step REDD+ SES process defined in the REDD+ SES Guidelines Version 2 (November 2012).


The review is undertaken once the assessment report has been published by the country and a report has been produced of the process used for the assessment (on completion of Step 10). The REDD+ SES international review does not assess the content of the country’s assessment report (i.e. social and environmental performance versus the principles, criteria and indicators), but assesses the extent to which the good practices in the REDD+ SES Guidelines have been followed.  The REDD+ SES Guidelines promote enhanced transparency and a strong country-led, multi-stakeholder process that is expected to lead to a fair and accurate assessment of social and environmental performance.  The International Review includes an evaluation of the outcomes that have resulted from adopting a participatory and comprehensive approach to safeguards.  


The review and outcome evaluation provide a valuable opportunity to learn from a country’s use of REDD+ SES to confirm and communicate the quality of the country’s process, and to learn from the experience to provide feedback to strengthen the approach within the country as well as to feed into guidance to support other countries.