The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) defined the safeguards to be observed in the implementation of actions for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation - REDD+ (Appendix I to Decision 1 / CP.16). REDD + safeguards are also known as Cancun safeguards and aim to ensure that REDD + initiatives adequately address sensitive issues such as the rights of indigenous peoples and traditional communities, social participation, preservation of natural ecosystems, the permanence of achieved REDD+ results and the risk of displacement of the pressure from deforestation and forest degradation to other areas.

The seven Cancun safeguards state that REDD + initiatives should promote and support:

(a) That actions complement or are consistent with the objectives of national forest programmes and relevant international conventions and agreements;

(b) Transparent and effective national forest governance structures, taking into account national legislation and sovereignty;

(c) 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, and noting that the United Nations General Assembly has adopted the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples;

(d) The full and effective participation of relevant stakeholders, in particular indigenous peoples and local communities;

(e) That actions are consistent with the conservation of natural forests and biological diversity, ensuring that the actions referred to in paragraph 70 of  Decision 1 / CP.16 are not used for the conversion of natural forests, but are instead used to incentivize the protection and conservation of natural forests and their ecosystem services, and to enhance other social and environmental benefits;

(f) Actions to address the risks of reversals;

(g) Actions to reduce displacement of emissions.

The decisions agreed under the UNFCCC provide that countries wishing to obtain payments for REDD+ results should provide the means for the safeguards to be accompanied in two ways:

I - with the establishment of a system capable of providing information for monitoring how safeguards are being addressed and respected during the implementation of REDD + activities - the Safeguards Information System. This system must be developed autonomously by each country; and

II - by drawing up a summary of information on safeguards. This document should provide information on how safeguards were addressed and respected during the implementation of REDD+.

Brazil started the development of its National Information System on REDD+ Safeguards (SISREDD +) in 2015, and the Ministry of the Environment is responsible for its coordination. The Thematic Advisory Chamber on Safeguards, created under CONAREDD+ (National Commission for the Reduction of Greenhouse Gas Emissions), is composed of experts and representatives of civil society and public and private entities, and has the attribution of contributing to the development of SISREDD+.

The application of safeguards in each country, however, requires an interpretation effort that should take into account their particular national context. It is the responsibility of the Thematic Advisory Chamber on Safeguards to conduct the discussions related to the subject in the country. This includes the conceptualization of safeguards in the Brazilian context, the development of the SISREDD+ and the revision of the summary information on safeguards, among other activities. When SISREDD+ is in operation its information will be made available to society as a whole.

The Amazon Fund precedes the approval of the Cancun safeguards, but since its inception the Amazon Fund’s Guidance Committee (COFA) has established a set of guidelines and criteria that, associated with the operational policies of the BNDES, its manager, have functioned since their origin as safeguards, potentializing the positive socio-environmental impacts and reducing the negative impacts related to REDD+ activities.

Brazil submitted to the UNFCCC in 2015 the 1st Safeguards Summary with information on how Cancun safeguards were addressed and respected by Brazil throughout the implementation of actions to reduce emissions from deforestation in the Amazon biome between 2006 and 2010. In 2018 the 2nd Safeguards Summary was submitted to the UNFCCC, which also includes information on how the Amazon Fund promotes and supports this theme.