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World Bank’s FCPF fails to consult with Indigenous Peoples in Honduras

By Chris Lang, 29th February 2012

The Indigenous Peoples Confederation of Honduras (CONPAH) recently wrote a letter to the State Secretary of Natural Resources and Environment, Doctor Rigoberto Cuéllar Cruz, about the lack of consultation relating to the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility in Honduras.

The letter proposes that the government should withdraw of the draft Readiness-Preparation Proposal that has been submitted to the FCPF, in order “to begin a good-faith process for the creation and formulation based on the principle of free, previous and informed consent.” The letter also demands that “GIZ, Rainforest Alliance, USAID, UNDP and other Bilateral and Multilateral collaborators suspend all activities and financing related to the REDD processes in Indigenous and Afro-Honduran territories.”

An English translation of CONPAH’s letter is posted below and the original Spanish version can be downloaded here (pdf file 994.5 kB).

On 23 February 2012, Irina Helena Pineda, the Director of External Cooperation at the Honduran Department of Natural Resources and Environment, wrote to Peter Saile, Senior Carbon Finance Specialist at the World Bank. The letter explains that Honduras will postpone the presentation of the R-PP until the Participants Committee meeting in Colombia in June 2012. Although one of the reasons given for the delay was the letter from CONPAH, the Department of Natural Resources and Environment’s letter does not state that a process of free, prior and informed consent will be carried out before the next draft of the R-PP is produced.

The letter from the Honduran Department of Natural Resources and Environment is available below in Spanish. It is also available on the FCPF website, but the CONPAH letter is not (yet) posted on the FCPF website.

REDD-Monitor has also written to Peter Saile at the World Bank with some further questions about lack of consultation in the FCPF in Honduras. (The email is available below.) REDD-Monitor looks forward to posting his response, along with responses from GIZ, Rainforest Alliance, USAID and UNDP to CONPAH’s demand that they suspend all activities and funding relating to REDD in Indigenous and Afro-Honduran territories.


UPDATE – 2 March 2012: The CONPAH letter has now been posted on the FCPF website. Perhaps FCPF is listening after all. On 29 February 2012, Peter Saile replied as follows: “Please send your request directly to the FCPF Secretariat.” REDD-Monitor therefore sent the same questions to the FCPF secretariat with a copy to Benoît Bosquet, coordinator of the FCPF at the World Bank. REDD-Monitor looks forward to posting the Bank’s response.

UPDATE – 8 March 2012: Benoît Bosquet’s response is posted in full, here.


Confederation of Autochthonous Peoples of Honduras (CONPAH)Tegucigalpa M.D.C., 8 February 2012

Rigoberto Cuellar, Attorney
Minister of SERNA
Your Office

Ref: R-PP of Honduras: Document not consulted indigenous peoples

We, the Indigenous and Afro-Honduran Peoples, who make up the Confederation of Autochthonous Peoples of Honduras (CONPAH) are surprised to find out that the Government of Honduras, through its Secretary, has submitted to the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF), the Readiness Project Proposal (R-PP) named “PREPARATION FOR REDUCING EMISSIONS BY DEFORESTATION AND FOREST DEGRADATION IN HONDURAS”. We believe that this unilateral decision from the State of Honduras, of submitting this document to the FCPF for approval constitutes a violation of our Rights because we as Peoples do not know its content and scope, even more importantly, our free, prior and informed Consent, as mandated by the FCPF guidelines and international instruments that guarantee our Rights, has not been granted.

Given that this R-PP document was drafted without consulting with us, and without our consent, the Confederation of Autochthonous Peoples of Honduras (CONPAH) proposes the following:

1. That the State of Honduras withdraw the R-PP document submitted to the World Bank’s FCPF to begin a good-faith process for the creation and formulation based on the principle of free, previous and informed consent.

2. Through its Federations and members, the Confederation of Autochthonous Peoples of Honduras (CONPAH) will facilitate a consultative process based on the free, previous and informed consent, and in agreement with our overall World view, understanding that this process will be under the control of the Federations united under the CONPAH.

3. We likewise demand that the GIZ, Rainforest Alliance, USAID, UNDP and other Bilateral and Multilateral collaborators suspend all activities and financing related to the REDD processes in Indigenous and Afro-Honduran territories.

Signed:

Bayardo Alemán, CONPAH President
CONIMCHH, President
Norvin Goff, MASTA President
Edilia Isidra Montes, Treasurer CONPAH, P. FFTRIXY
Secretary CONPAH
Erenia Sanchez, Member
Edgardo Benitez M., FITH, President

With copy to:

World Bank/ Carbon Partnership Facility Forest (FCPF)
Regional and Honduras GIZ
Rainforest Alliance
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID)/Honduras
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)/Honduras
Defender of Ethnic Peoples and Cultural Heritage of Honduras
National Congress of the Republic of Honduras
Indigenous Council of Central America – CICA
Indigenous Federations of Honduras
The Civil Society
Presidency of the Republic of Honduras
Secretary of Indigenous and African descent in Honduras/SEDINAFROH
Forest Conservation Institute – ICF
Archive

From: Irina Helena Pineda
To: Peter Saile
Cc: Stephanie Tam, Raju Koirala, Ken Andrasko, Pierre-Yves Guedez, Benoit Bosquet
Date: 02/23/2012 04:38 PM
Subject:Formal announcement of postponement of draft R‐PP presentation at PC 11Estimado Sr. Saile,

Después de saludarle muy cordialmente me dirijo a usted a fin de dar seguimiento a nuestra conversación telefónica y donde expresé el interés de Honduras en postergar la presentación de nuestro RPP.

En ese sentido, me permito informarle que el pasado viernes 17 de febrero, el Dr. Rigoberto Cuéllar, Secretario de Estado en los Despachos de Recursos Naturales y Ambiente de Honduras, convoco a una reunión relacionada con la presentación de este documento; en ese sentido, queremos saber si es posible posponer la presentación del borrador del R‐PP del PC 11, a llevarse a cabo en Paraguay, al PC 12 que se estará celebrando en Colombia. Lo anterior debido a lo siguiente:

1) Como usted sabe, el TAP realizó una serie de comentarios a nuestro documento y consideramos que esos cambios y ampliaciones requieren de un mayor tiempo para su cumplimentación, término superior al pautado para presentar las observaciones (2 de marzo).

2) Por otro lado, y como usted tiene conocimiento la Confederación de Pueblos Autóctonos de Honduras (CONPAH) envió a ésta Secretaría de Estado una Comunicación mediante la cual indican que dicho documento no fue debidamente fue socializado ante las comunidades; por lo que valoraremos lo expresado por ellos y procederemos a continuar con las acciones pertinentes de socialización, tal como lo hemos venido haciendo, y seguir los pasos necesarios relacionados con la resolución de la la situación actual ocasionada por la precitada carta.

Es muy importante remarcar, que el Gobierno de Honduras reitera su compromiso y está en la mayor disposición de continuar con los esfuerzos realizados hasta la fecha hasta lograr presentar el documento borrador para el siguiente PC 12.

Les mantendremos informados sobre las acciones que iremos desarrollando en este proceso.

Abg. Irina Helena Pineda
Directora de Cooperación Externa
Secretaria de Recursos Naturales y Ambiente

From: Chris Lang
Date: 29 February 2012 09:47
Subject: Honduras and FCPF
To:Peter SaileDear Peter,

Greetings from Jakarta! Long time no see. As you may know, I’m running a website called REDD-Monitor these days (www.redd-monitor.org). I note that the Honduran government has written to the World Bank postponing the presentation of the Honduras Readiness-Preparation Proposal until June 2012. I would be grateful if you could answer the following questions about the FCPF and Honduras.

1. One of the reasons that the Honduran government gave for postponing the presentation of the R-PP was a letter (http://bit.ly/zbrYeN) from the Confederation of Autochthonous Peoples of Honduras (CONPAH). In the letter CONPAH wrote that the “R-PP was drafted without consulting with us, and without our consent”. How is it possible that the R-PP was produced without consulting the most representative body of indigenous peoples in Honduras? Isn’t this in breach of the World Bank’s policy on indigenous peoples?

2. Why has the World Bank not posted the letter from CONPAH on the FCPF website?

3. The letter from the Honduran government refers to a series of comments by the Technical Advisory Panel on the R-PP. Why is the TAP report on the R-PP not available on FCPF’s website?

4. CONPAH’s letter includes a demand that “GIZ, Rainforest Alliance, USAID, UNDP and other Bilateral and Multilateral collaborators suspend all activities and financing related to the REDD processes in Indigenous and Afro-Honduran territories.” How does the Bank intend to respond to this demand?

5. Germany is the largest funder of the FCPF. As you know, last year the German government issued a new human rights policy. This policy specifically includes the principle of free, prior and informed consent and states that Germany “endorses, promotes and advocates” that the World Bank and other multi-lateral agencies turn their attention to the issue of human rights compliance. Yet the World Bank’s policy on indigenous peoples only requires free, prior and informed consultation. Will the World Bank ensure that the principle of free, prior and informed consent is applied in the production of R-PPs, in Honduras and elsewhere? And if not, why not?

Thanks for your time and I look forward to hearing from you. Please consider your response to be on the record.

Regards, Chris Lang

 

A response from the World Bank’s Benoît Bosquet about consultation with Indigenous Peoples in Honduras

By Chris Lang, 8th March 2012

A response from the World Bank's Benoit Bosquet about consultation with Indigenous Peoples in Honduras

Last week, REDD-Monitor wrote a post titled “World Bank fails to consult with Indigenous Peoples in Honduras”. The post included a letter from the Indigenous Peoples Confederation of Honduras (CONPAH) to the State Secretary of Natural Resources and Environment, Doctor Rigoberto Cuéllar Cruz.

The post also included a series of questions for the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility about the consultation process in Honduras. Benoît Bosquet, coordinator of the FCPF at the World Bank has now responded. His response is posted here in full.

REDD-Monitor: One of the reasons that the Honduran government gave for postponing the presentation of the R-PP was a letter from the Confederation of Autochthonous Peoples of Honduras (CONPAH). In the letter CONPAH wrote that the “R-PP was drafted without consulting with us, and without our consent”. How is it possible that the R-PP was produced without consulting the most representative body of indigenous peoples in Honduras? Isn’t this in breach of the World Bank’s policy on indigenous peoples?

Benoît Bosquet: The question does not accurately reflect the nature of the R-PP or the appropriate application of Bank policy and FCPF requirements. It is important to highlight that REDD+ countries that participate in the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility’s (FCPF) Readiness Fund carry out the work in two stages:

  1. The formulation of a Readiness Preparation Proposal (R-PP), which outlines the studies and activities a government proposes to undertake to become “ready” for REDD+ including, among other things, how it plans to conduct a Strategic Environmental and Social Assessment and how it intends to consult with key stakeholders while preparing for REDD+. The Government of Honduras is currently at this stage of work.
  2. Readiness preparation, where the government carries out the activities laid out in its R-PP to prepare to engage in REDD+, including carrying out the consultations with key stakeholders. This stage begins after the R-PP has been formally assessed by the FCPF’s Participants Committee and a Readiness Preparation grant agreement has been signed with the country to support its activities.

At this point, the Government of Honduras has submitted a draft R-PP for early feedback and is still in the process of formulating its R-PP, so it is expected to be engaging key stakeholders, but not yet carrying out fuller consultations. This aspect of the R-PP process has been extensively and openly discussed and resolved under the R-PP guidelines.

Accordingly, the Government of Honduras has engaged with stakeholders in the process leading to the formulation of the draft R-PP, while clearly stating that there is a need for further outreach to more stakeholders, including to afro-descendent peoples’ and Indigenous Peoples’ organizations, and setting forth plans for this. The latest draft R-PP is available here. Your question refers to a letter written by the Confederation of Autochthonous Peoples of Honduras (CONPAH) regarding the decision of the Government of Honduras to present the draft R-PP for early feedback (not approval – please see below) from the FCPF Participants Committee. We would like to offer the following comments on this letter.

A country may submit an R-PP either as an informal (draft) R-PP for early feedback from the PC, or as a formal R-PP for assessment by the PC at the next PC meeting. Honduras submitted the first draft of its R-PP in December 2011 for informal presentation to and early feedback from the PC at the eleventh PC meeting to be held in March 2012. However, the government then decided to postpone its presentation of the draft R-PP to the PC until a later date.

It is therefore not the case that Honduras submitted the (final) R-PP “to the FCPF for approval”, as the CONPAH letter suggests. In fact, it is important to note that R-PPs are never approved by the PC. The PC assesses R-PPs and approves, as the case may be, grant allocations to support the government in carrying out the activities outlined in the R-PPs. Please also note that the FCPF Facility Management Team (FMT) responded on February 14, 2012 to a query from Mr. Joshua Lichtenstein of the Bank Information Center, that “the R-PP of Honduras is slated for an informal presentation only”. At the time, the FMT was unaware of the intentions of the government of Honduras to withdraw the R-PP.

The CONPAH letter mentions free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) as mandatory by FCPF guidelines. This is not accurate. The FCPF applies the World Bank’s Operational Policies and Procedures, including those on safeguards. Operational Policy 4.10 on Indigenous Peoples specifies that the Bank provides project financing only where free, prior, and informed consultation results in broad community support by the affected Indigenous Peoples. Although OP 4.10 does not expressly refer to FPIC, if the country has ratified ILO Convention No.169 or adopted national legislation that sets a higher standard than the Bank, or if the Bank is working on a project with a development partner that has a more stringent standard than its own, the Bank has agreed that will in turn support adherence to ILO Convention 169 and/or that more stringent standard. Indeed, the Common Approach to Environmental and Social Safeguards for Multiple Delivery Partners of the FCPF states that “if the environmental and social safeguard policies and procedures of the Delivery Partner are more stringent and/or protective than those of the World Bank, the Delivery Partner shall apply its policies and procedures to activities undertaken under the FCPF Readiness Fund.” Honduras is one of the nine pilot countries where the Multiple Delivery Partner arrangement will be applied. Honduras has declared its interest in working with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) as Delivery Partner.

REDD-Monitor: Why has the World Bank not posted the letter from CONPAH on the FCPF website?

Benoît Bosquet: Following agreement by the Government of Honduras, we have now posted the letter.

REDD-Monitor: The letter from the Honduran government refers to a series of comments by the Technical Advisory Panel on the R-PP. Why is the TAP report on the R-PP not available on FCPF’s website?

Benoît Bosquet: Honduras submitted the first draft of its R-PP in December 2011 for a review process according to established procedures. Generally, a country’s first draft R-PP undergoes two rounds of comments from an independent Technical Advisory Panel (TAP) and an additional review by members of the FCPF Participants Committee (PC). The TAP includes specialists on a wide range of topics relevant to the cross-sectoral character of an R-PP, including in-country experts, sector experts, and an expert on issues relating to Indigenous Peoples and other forest dwellers.

The preparation of a draft R-PP entails a lot of early thinking. As each draft undergoes two rounds of review, the country has the opportunity to improve it. The TAP’s first round of comments allows the Government to further improve and enhance the draft document, after which the TAP conducts its second round of review and revises and finalizes its comments as needed, before the R-PP is presented as an informal (draft) R-PP for early feedback from the PC or a formal R-PP for assessment by the PC at the next PC meeting. Once the TAP conducts this second round of review, the revised, finalized comments are made publicly available on the FCPF website.

In this specific case, Honduras originally planned to present its draft R-PP to the PC for early feedback at the eleventh PC meeting to be held in March 2012. The R-PP underwent the standard review process, and an indigenous expert from one of the major Indigenous Peoples groups participated in the review. However, only a draft TAP review took place before the process was interrupted due to the government’s decision to postpone its presentation of the draft R-PP to the PC to a later date. Therefore the TAP comments have not been finalized, and will not be finalized, until after the government decides to resume its R-PP submission, at which point the TAP comments will be made publicly available on the FCPF website.

REDD-Monitor: CONPAH’s letter includes a demand that “GIZ, Rainforest Alliance, USAID, UNDP and other Bilateral and Multilateral collaborators suspend all activities and financing related to the REDD processes in Indigenous and Afro-Honduran territories.” How does the Bank intend to respond to this demand?

Benoît Bosquet: The FCPF has not yet provided support to Honduras. The FCPF and the designated Delivery Partner will work with the government on how best to proceed with REDD+ readiness preparation in Honduras taking into account the importance of stakeholder engagement and consultation in the process.

REDD-Monitor: Germany is the largest funder of the FCPF. As you know, last year the German government issued a new human rights policy. This policy specifically includes the principle of free, prior and informed consent and states that Germany “endorses, promotes and advocates” that the World Bank and other multi-lateral agencies turn their attention to the issue of human rights compliance. Yet the World Bank’s policy on indigenous peoples only requires free, prior and informed consultation. Will the World Bank ensure that the principle of free, prior and informed consent is applied in the production of R-PPs, in Honduras and elsewhere? And if not, why not?

Benoît Bosquet: The formulation of an R-PP is not yet the formulation of a country’s REDD+ strategy, but rather the description of steps that the country will take to prepare itself to be “ready” for REDD+ over time. These steps will entail preparing a clear strategy, institutional framework, benefit sharing mechanism, registry, reference level, and system for measurement, reporting and verification. The participation of key stakeholders, including forest dwelling Indigenous Peoples and Afro-descendents, throughout the process is key for the future success of REDD+. It is important that governments engage with key stakeholders in the formulation of an R-PP, which includes the plan of how they intend to consult with others when preparing for REDD+. It is in the process of readiness preparation that they will then carry out those consultations.

The FCPF’s Common Approach to Environmental and Social Safeguards for Multiple Delivery Partners is designed to provide the World Bank and other FCPF Delivery Partners with a common platform for risk management and quality assurance in the REDD+ Readiness Preparation process, using the safeguard policies of the World Bank as a minimum acceptable standard. World Bank projects that affect Indigenous Peoples will not be approved unless it is found that there has been free, prior and informed consultation of the Indigenous Peoples leading to their broad community support. World Bank safeguard policies especially the Indigenous Peoples policy, explains in detail how that is achieved and documented. If a Delivery Partner working with a country has more stringent rigorous standards than the World Bank, these will apply. In countries that have ratified ILO Convention 169, the Convention will apply to readiness preparation.

The FMT appreciates your questions and takes the concerns raised seriously. We have an open and continuous dialogue with the representatives of Civil Society Organizations in the FCPF Participants Committee on the matter of participation and consultation and welcome further interaction on these issues.

December 4, 2011 Written by: Leony Aurora
Photo courtesy of UN Climate Change/flickr.

DURBAN, South Africa (4 December 2011)__ Latest draft texts on REDD+ that will go forward to a plenary session for approval have postponed a decision on financing to next year and watered down safeguards requirements, leaving REDD+ projects in limbo and indigenous groups unprotected.

The UNFCCC’s ad hoc working group on the Long-term Cooperative Action (AWG-LCA) asked the secretariat to prepare a technical paper to review what kind of financing sources will be suitable for specific REDD+ activities, said Louis Verchot, leading climate change scientist at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR). “REDD projects have to go another whole year without any clear indication as to how this whole system is going to be financed,” he said at the sidelines of the UN climate summit in Durban.

Another disappointment is in the scientific sub-committee SBSTA’s “very weak” text on safeguards to protect local communities, indigenous peoples and biodiversity. The draft reduces requirements from collecting data and measuring impacts of REDD+ to merely reporting how developers implement safeguard measures, said Verchot. “Safeguards aren’t going to be safeguards.” (see the text in two parts here and here)

The decisions, or lack thereof, were made in “a void” as negotiators struggle to agree on what will happen after Kyoto Protocol, the current legally-binding climate treaty that doesn’t include REDD+ and that expires in 2012. “We have no idea how to fund” REDD+, said Verchot. As such, “we don’t have an objective, we don’t have a means to an objective. We’re going to make all the decisions about all the rules of how we’re going to get to our objective, but we don’t even know where we’re going.”

REDD+ aims to reward developing nations for reducing emissions by protecting, restoring and sustainably managing forests. AWG-LCA prepares the draft text on REDD+ finance (see pages 30-31 here) while the Subsidiary Body of Scientific and Technological Advancement (SBSTA) makes recommendations to the Conference of the Parties on how to measure, report and verify carbon emissions as well as on safeguards.

Financing decision in 2012

The AWG-LCA wants to know what sources of financing including public and markets can do for the different kinds of activities under REDD+, such as to reduce deforestation, reduce degradation, and manage forest in a sustainable manner, said Verchot. The ad hoc group will make a recommendation for REDD+ financing based on this information next year.

While acknowledging that such a review is good to have, “we’re seven years into REDD and we’re still looking at what the options are. We’re not making the hard decisions.” Asia Pacific negotiators, including China, said that they hoped to reach an agreement on financing for REDD+ in Durban.

The crux of the matter is that there’s no certainty on whether any binding agreement to cut emissions will replace Kyoto, said Verchot. “REDD is sort of cut loose…  it’s being launched into the world, it’s out there, but how it relates to anything else is not clear.”

Very weak safeguards

The final draft of the text suggests that countries would only have to submit qualitative information on how safeguards were implemented, said Verchot. “We have no way of actually measuring impact” of REDD+ on communities, which requires collecting and comparing before-and-after data, said Verchot.

The weakened safeguards text was probably adopted to accommodate developing countries’ frustration towards donors’ complex and costly requirements, which often differ from one agency to the next, at a time when only little money is flowing in for REDD+, said Verchot. “The feeling among developing countries is that they need to start getting something out of the program and there needs to be fewer hoops to jump through before receiving the promised support,” he said.

The current text significantly lightens the load for forested nations. “At the same time, there’s a need to ensure that local communities are not being harmed,” said Verchot. In the current form, safeguards are merely principles to adhere to, he said. “If we’re performing or not performing, it’s not going to matter, because we’re not going to measure it.”

Other issues, such as reference emissions levels, did not change much from the previous draft (see CIFOR story on these here). SBSTA is going to ask the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to reformulate their existing methods and guidelines for measuring, reporting and verification (MRV) to meet the need for REDD+. This will help to ensure that the forest carbon accounting is consistent with the national emissions accounting guidelines, said Verchot, who estimated this process to take two years.

For other reports from COP17, visit the blogs of these organizations:
The Center for People and Forests (RECOFTC)

January 17, 2012 | Filed under: Indigenous,Whenua Rangatiratanga | Posted by:

Indigenous leaders returning from Durban, South Africa condemn the fiasco of the United Nations climate change talks and demand a moratorium on a forest carbon offset scheme called REDD+ which they say threatens the future of humanity and Indigenous Peoples’ very survival.

During the UN climate negotiations, a Global Alliance of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities against REDD+ and for Life was formed to bring attention to the lack of full recognition of Indigenous rights being problematic in the texts of the UN climate negotiations.

“It was very disappointing that our efforts to strengthen the vague Indigenous rights REDD safeguards from the Cancun Agreements evaporated as the Durban UN negotiations went on. It is clear that the focus was not on strong, binding commitments on Indigenous rights and safeguards, nor limiting emissions, but on creating a framework for financing and carbon markets, which they did. Now Indigenous Peoples’ forests may really be up for grabs,” says Alberto Saldamando, legal counsel participating in the Indigenous Environmental Network delegation.

Berenice Sanchez of the Mesoamerica Indigenous Women’s Biodiversity Network says, “Instead of cutting greenhouse gas emissions 80% like we need, the UN is promoting false solutions to climate change like carbon trading and offsets, through the Clean Development Mechanism and the proposed REDD+ which provide polluters with permits to pollute. The UN climate negotiation is not about saving the climate, it is about privatization of forests, agriculture and the air.”

Tom Goldtooth, Director of Indigenous Environmental Network based in Minnesota, USA does not mince words. “By refusing to take immediate binding action to reduce the concentration of greenhouse gas emissions, industrialized countries like the United States and Canada are essentially incinerating Africa and drowning the small island states of the Pacific. The sea ice of the Inupiat, Yupik and Inuit of the Arctic is melting right before their eyes, creating a forced choice to adapt or perish. This constitutes climate racism, ecocide and genocide of an unprecedented scale.”

Of particular concern for indigenous peoples is a forest offset scheme known as REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation). Hyped as a way of saving the climate and paying communities to take care of forests as sponges for Northern pollution, REDD+ is rife with fundamental flaws that make it little more than a green mask for more pollution and the expansion of monoculture tree plantations. The Global Alliance of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities against REDD+ and for Life, formed at the Durban UN climate negotiations, call for an immediate moratorium on REDD+-type projects because they fear that REDD+ could result in “the biggest land grab of all time,” thus threatening the very survival of indigenous peoples and local communities.

“At Durban, CDM and REDD carbon and emission offset regimes were prioritized, not emission reductions. All I saw was the UN, World Bank, industrialized countries and private investors marketing solutions to market pollution. This is unacceptable. The solutions for climate change must not be placed in the hands of financiers and corporate polluters. I fear that local communities could increasingly become the victims of carbon cowboys, without adequate and binding mechanisms to ensure that the rights of indigenous peoples and local forested and agricultural communities are respected,” Goldtooth added.

“We call for an immediate moratorium on REDD+-type policies and projects because REDD is a monster that is already violating our rights and destroying our forests,” Monica González of the Kukapa People and Head of Indigenous Issues of the Mexican human rights organization Comision Ciudadana de Derechos Humanos del Noreste.

The President of the Ogiek Council of Elders of the Mau Forest of Kenya, Joseph K. Towett, said “We support the moratorium because anything that hurts our cousins, hurts us all.”

“We will not allow our sacred Amazon rainforest to be turned into a carbon dump. REDD is a hypocrisy that does not stop global warming,” said Marlon Santi, leader of the Kichwa community of Sarayaku, Ecuador and long time participant of UN and climate change meetings.

Contact: Tom Goldtooth

Tel (USA): (218) 760 – 0442

NO REDD Resources http://noredd.makenoise.org

No REDD Papers – volume One (from noredd.makenoise.org).

http://rio20.net/en/documentos/indigenous-peoples-condemn-climate-talks-fiasco-and-demand-moratoria-on-redd

By Chris Lang, 19th January 2012

 

Last month, the Phnom Penh Post published a shocking article about the illegal logging of rosewood in the Central Cardamom Protected Forest in Cambodia. According to the article, the illegal logging is abetted by military personnel, while Conservation International, which is working with the Cambodian government to manage the protected area, denies that the trade is taking place.

The CCPF is one of the largest conservation areas in Cambodia, covering 401,313 hectares. Conservation International has been working to protect the forest since 2001. On one Sunday night in December 2011, Phnom Penh Post journalists counted “at least nine industrial transport trucks, seven pick-up trucks and one Land Rover packed with timber drive out of Koh Kong province’s Thma Bang district in the CCPF on one road alone”. They could hear “large numbers of trucks” driving along a nearby road. The journalists wrote that,

Villagers, loggers and conservationists have verified that Forestry Administration officials, military officers and rangers working in partnership with the NGO Conservation International are making no effort to stop the massive trade in protected rosewood.

In many cases, it is alleged, they are actively profiting.

A conservation researcher who has “worked extensively” in Koh Khong provice’s Thma Bang district told the journalists,

“It’s like a gold rush – the value of rosewood is so high, it’s irresistible for cutters and middlemen.

It’s all relatively organised, how much the loggers and middlemen have to pay, and to whom. They know which checkpoints they have to go through. It has apparently reached the stage where most young men in Tatai Leu commune [in Thma Bang district] have been absorbed into the rosewood extraction.”

The journalists reported the researcher as saying that “officials working with CI stationed at a checkpoint on road 48 – the only avenue out of Thma Bang – are allowing trucks carrying rosewood to drive straight through in exchange for ‘taxes’”.

Conservation International denied any wrong-doing whatsoever. David Emmett, Conservation International’s Senior Vice President for the Asia-Pacific Field Division, said in a statement that,

“A recent story in a Cambodian newspaper has made a number of claims about the practices of Conservation International (CI) in Cambodia’s Central Cardamoms Protected Forest that are dramatically inaccurate and patently untrue. CI Cambodia completely refutes the suggestion that it is turning a ‘blind eye’ to illegal logging or that it is complicit in any way with the practices alleged in the newspaper story.”

Conservation International explained to mongabay.com that it “does not oversee enforcement, and does not maintain or facilitate any checkpoints or rangers in or outside the CCPF.”

“Rather, we provide grants to the Forestry Administration to support ongoing monitoring of the CCPF such as upkeep of ranger stations, GPS technology, provision of equipment, outfits and salary supplements to strengthen and increase the numbers of rangers, and diesel for their patrols; in other words, CI provides supportive funding, the government does the patrolling. In fact, CI does not even have staff on the ground in the Central Cardamoms Protected Forest – our team works with the local communities outside this area.”

Conservation International provides the money to the Forestry Administration from its Global Conservation Fund. The Global Conservation Fund receives its money from the Moore Foundation and is supposed to “finance the creation, expansion and long-term management of protected areas”. The money, according to Conservation International’s website,

supports on-site surveillance and enforcement systems by Conservation International’s Cambodia Program to provide immediate protection for the area, which is under threat from illegal logging and hunting activities.

The program advises the Royal Government of Cambodia on protected area management, as well as training and patrolling.

Surely Conservation International’s advice to the Cambodian Government, must include something about the importance of dealing with illegal logging?

In any case, if Conservation International is paying the Forestry Administration to patrol the Central Cardamom Protected Forest and the Forestry Administration is doing little or nothing to stop large scale illegal logging from taking place, then Conservation International has a problem to deal with. Attempting to pass the buck will solve nothing. Obviously, as a US-based NGO, Conservation International is not responsible for arresting illegal loggers in Cambodia. But pretending that the organisation has no responsibility, despite the fact that it is helping fund the Forestry Administration, is simply unacceptable.

In its response to the article, Conservation International states that large amounts of rosewood are not found with the Central Cardamom Protected Forest and that the logging is taking place outside the protected area:

“[Rosewood] occurs mostly in open semi-deciduous or broadleafed forest, and is most abundant in lowland forest. Most of the 402,000ha CCPF is entirely unsuitable for rosewood to occur in significant densities due to the high altitude and steep slopes. . . The CCPF consists predominantly of hill evergreen forest with pine forest and montane grasslands on the plateau. The areas described in the article are lowland forests to the south of the CCPF, not the CCPF itself, so this represents an error in geography and is well outside the geography of our project area.”

But in a brochure about its work in the CCPF, Conservation International explains that preserving the forests around the CCPF is an important part of Conservation International’s work:

Another important component of the strategy has been working in the broader Cardamom landscape beyond the CCPF. Conserving the forests outside the protected area is important for mitigating the effects of climate change. These forests are currently experiencing high rates of deforestation and degradation. Their protection will reduce the amount of carbon being emitted into the atmosphere, contributing positively to climate stabilization. It will also serve to buffer the CCPF from detrimental threats.

There is no doubt that illegal logging in Cambodia is rampant and is a serious threat to the forests. The fact is that the Cambodian authorities are unable or unwilling to address illegal logging and are, in some cases at least, directly profiting from it. This has obvious implications for REDD in Cambodia. Unless the underlying causes of deforestation are addressed, including illegal logging, REDD stands no chance of succeeding. It is difficult to see why Conservation International appears stubbornly incapable of grasping this simple point.


PHOTO Credit: Will Baxter, Phnom Penh Post.

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http://news.mongabay.com/2012/0102-hance_yasuni_donations.html

Jeremy Hance
mongabay.com
January 02, 2012

 

A possibly ground-breaking idea has been kept on life support after Ecuador revealed its Yasuni-ITT Initiative had raked in $116 million before the end of the year, breaking the $100 million mark that Ecuador said it needed to keep the program alive. Ecuador is proposing to not drill for an estimated 850 million barrels of oil in the Ishpingo-Tambococha-Tiputinin (ITT) blocs of Yasuni National Park if the international community pledges $3.6 billion to a United Nations Development Fund (UNDF), or about half of what the oil is currently worth. The Yasuni-ITT Initiative would preserve arguably the most biodiverse region on Earth from oil exploitation, safeguard indigenous populations, and keep an estimated 410 million tons of CO2 out of the atmosphere. However, the initiative is not without its detractors, some arguing the program is little more than blackmail; meanwhile proponents say it could prove an effective way to combat climate change, deforestation, and mass extinction.

“Yasuni is an international treasure—perhaps the biologically richest place on Earth. Its loss would be a tragedy for Ecuador and, indeed, peoples worldwide who celebrate the diversity of life,” Hugo Mogollon, executive director of Finding Species, an NGO that works in Ecuador, said this year. “The Yasuni-ITT Initiative is pioneering. It is a serious effort to keep megadiverse forest intact, coming straight from the office of the President of Ecuador. Governments of the region and around the world should really want to support this.”


Gas flare at an oil refinery across the river from Yasuni National Park and near Coca. Photo by Jeremy Hance.

Money was raised from a “crowdfunding” initiative and includes donations from governments, environmentalists, and movie stars. However, the bulk of the money has come from two places: Italy forgave $51 million of debt to Ecuador and Ecuador’s president, Rafael Correa, donated $40 million from a massive lawsuit he won against an opposition newspaper. Other donations were smaller, including: $100,000 from Turkey, Chile, Colombia, and Georgia; $500,000 from Australia; $1.4 from Spain; and $2 million from the Belgium region of Wallonia. Individual contributors included former US Vice President Al Gore and celebrities Leonardo DiCaprio, Bo Derek and Edward Norton. Monies donated to the UNDF fund will be used for nature conservation and renewable energy projects.

While Germany announced earlier in the year that it was backing away from supporting Yasuni-ITT, it did pledge $48 million in technical assistance.

At the time, German Federal Minister Dirk Niebel, wrote that the initiative lacks “a uniform justification context, a clear goal structure, and concrete statements as to how a permanent renunciation on oil extraction could be guaranteed in the Yasuni area. […] It further appears doubtful whether this approach really offers comparative advantages over the numerous alternative solutions currently discussed (e.g. REDD). Moreover, the support of the ITT initiative might set precedence with regards to compensation claims by oil-producing countries in climate negotiations.”

Niebel also wrote at the time that there were no other donors on board, a criticism that can no longer be made.

A recent opinion piece in mongabay.com argued further that the initiative was troubled: “[Ecudaor] is not particularly concerned about compliance with its own laws, because otherwise oil exploitation could not be considered. The area is at the heart of a National Park, and in 1989 became a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. Additionally, Ecuadorian legislation gives indigenous peoples the right to reject the exploitation of these lands.”

Still, donors en masse appeared to believe the promises of the unique program outweighed its risks.


Poison dart frog in Yasuni National Park. Photo by Jeremy Hance.

Recent research has found that Yasuni National Park may contain the most biodiverse ecosystem in the world: Yasuni sports the highest number of species in the western hemisphere based on data on birds, mammals, amphibians, and plants. Researchers have also found more tree species (655 to be exact) grow in a single hectare in Yasuni than in all of the US and Canada combined. But bugs may win the day yet: according to entomologist, Dr. Terry Erwin, a single hectare of rainforest in Yasuni may contain as many as 100,000 insect species: an estimate that, if proven true, is the highest per unit area in the world for any taxa, plant or animal.

“[Yasuni-IIT is] a very important message that we Ecuadorians are sending to the world since we are trying to demonstrate that there is an alternative to extractivism,” David Romo Vallejo, professor at the University of San Francisco Quito and co-director of Tiputini research station in Yasuni National Park, recently told mongabay.com.

Given that many scientists believe governments and the public are acting too slowly to effectively counter climate change and biodiversity loss, innovative programs with immediate results (i.e. not drilling in the park) such as Yasuni-ITT may become increasingly attractive.
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By Chris Lang, 24th December 2011

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Implement safeguards on REDD Plus, indigenous caucus demands

Last week REDD-Monitor posted a press release from The Global Alliance of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities against REDD+ and for Life demanding a moratorium on REDD. As a commentator pointed out, that was not the only press release from indigenous peoples at the UN climate negotiations in Durban.

The Indigenous Caucus put out a press release calling for the implementation of safeguards on REDD plus. The Indigenous Caucus was probably the largest and broadest indigenous group, with nearly 100 representatives in Durban, from Africa, Latin America, Asia, the Pacific, and North America. Unlike the Global Alliance (which opposes REDD), the focus of this press release is on the implementation of safeguards.

Implement safeguards on REDD Plus, indigenous caucus demands

(15 December 2011) – Indigenous peoples called on the immediate implementation of the safeguards on REDD Plus.
In a press conference a day before the end of the Durban Climate Change Conference, indigenous peoples belonging to the International Indigenous Peoples’ Forum on Climate Change (IIPFCC) called on state-parties for human rights to be central in any agreement on climate change.

The recognition of rights, including rights to land, territories and resources, and Free, Prior Informed Consent is crucial for indigenous peoples as this will rectify violation of their rights in the implementation of climate change solutions.

The safeguards identified in the Cancun Agreement include the “full and effective participation of relevant stakeholders…including indigenous peoples;” respect for the knowledge and rights of indigenous peoples, “taking into account relevant international obligation,…noting the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.” The other safeguard refers to the conservation of natural forests and biodiversity, and ecosystem services to enhance other social and environmental benefits.

These safeguards must be implemented to ensure that the rights of indigenous peoples are recognized, protected and fulfilled in REDD Plus activities.

The indigenous caucus also clarified its position amidst calls for a moratorium of REDD Plus. Joan Carling, speaking on behalf of the indigenous caucus, said “… this call for moratorium…is not the position of the indigenous caucus [IIPFCCC]” as there was no consensus on this.

“Our common position is the immediate implementation of safeguards under the Cancun Agreement, which include the respect for indigenous peoples’ rights and the full and effective participation of indigenous peoples.”

She stressed that what is needed is that safeguards are properly implemented. REDD Plus is currently in the preparation stage and what is very much needed is to influence the way REDD Plus is being developed in the national levels. “What everybody feels is an urgency for us to make sure that our safeguards are included in the design of REDD Plus at the national level.”

“If these safeguards are not part of the national design and this will be implemented, then there is going to be a lot of problems for all the millions of indigenous peoples that are going to be affected by REDD Plus.” States must implement these safeguards now to avoid further violations of the rights of indigenous peoples.

Jose Antonio Medina of Mexico also called for a “balanced allocation of funds to mitigation and adaptation” and the inclusion of indigenous peoples in the governance structure of the Green Climate Fund.

In addition, Ms. Victoria Haraseb from Namibia called for “direct access by indigenous peoples to funds on adaptation, as well as to technical support for capacity building initiatives.” In Africa, the impacts of climate change have been profound, causing increased drought, massive floods, destruction of livestock and cattle. Thus, urgent and immediate access by indigenous peoples to these funds, and compensation for their losses, are crucial to their survival.

Almost 100 indigenous representatives from Africa, Latin America, Asia, the Pacific, and North America who are members of IIPFCC were present in the Durban Climate Change Conference held from 27 November to 9 December 2011 in South Africa.

December 14, 2011 Written by: Tony La Viña, REDD+ facilitator
 http://blog.cifor.org/6466/we-must-be-optimistic-about-progress-on-climate-change-in-durban/

Photo courtesy of WWF International Photo Coverage for Climate COP17/flickr.

DURBAN, South Africa (14 December, 2011)_The climate change conference held in Durban, South Africa had not ended yet, and we already heard the chorus of denunciations: “The agreement is too weak”, “The governments have failed us again”, “Why don’t they get it? Shame on them!”.

There is truth to these comments. As a head of a delegation said in the last Durban plenary session, “I have never seen a climate change agreement I have liked”.

I share the sentiment, having attended and participated in most of these Conferences of the Parties (COP) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) starting from the first meeting in Berlin in March 1995. Indeed, I have been in this process a total of 20 years now as I started following it in November 1991 (during the negotiation of the UNFCCC itself) when I decided to choose the obscure topic of ‘global warming’ as the subject of my doctoral dissertation at Yale Law School.

Concluding that the Durban results are inadequate or even bad does not mean they should be rejected. This explains why many countries, including our delegation from the Philippines, in the final plenary early morning last Sunday (after a 36-hour extension as the conference was supposed to end on Friday), stated they were unhappy but still agreed to adopt the package. Governments cannot and should not leave these climate change conferences without a result; to do so, as we did in Copenhagen, would damage, even doom permanently multilateral efforts to address climate change.

To use the language of negotiation experts, there is no ‘best alternative’ to an agreement in the case of the UNFCCC process. That is why one should always aim for the maximum, not the least, common denominator; if you don’t aim high, there is no choice but to consent to the low. Walking away, we learned in Cancun, is not an option.

But are the Durban agreements — on a platform/process to negotiate a new legal agreement, the extension of the Kyoto Protocol, the agreements on long-term cooperative action (LCA), and the creation of the Green Climate Fund — really as bad as they are being portrayed?

I disagree. I will be publishing in January/February a comprehensive analysis of the outcome of Durban and my reflections as the REDD-plus Facilitator on what worked in our negotiations. My preliminary analysis however is that that in fact we made progress in Durban.

 

On the Durban outcome, governments adopted a package of four agreements — on a Durban Platform (way forward through 2015-2020), agreement on many remaining agenda items under the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long Term Cooperative Action, an agreement on a second commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol, and the creation of the Green Climate Fund. I summarise the four agreements below:

  • Durban Platform for Enhanced Action — an agreement was reached to negotiate a new agreement (mainly on mitigation with higher ambition); the negotiations would be launched in June 2012 and will aim to finish by 2015 so that the new agreement will be in effect by 2020. There was also an agreement that the result of this negotiation would be “a protocol, any other legal instrument, or instrument with legal force”.
  • Kyoto Protocol — a second commitment was agreed for the remaining parties to begin on 1 January 2013 and end either on 31 December 2017 or 31 December 2020, subject to decision in next year’s meeting. Parties will offer their reduction targets by May 2012. A decision on the LULUCF rules was also adopted by the Meeting of the Parties.
  • LCA Agreement — Most of the LCA agenda has been dealt with and so it will be extended only one more year. Adaptation, Technology Transfer and REDD are nearly done and can be implemented. Long-term finance and the proposed agriculture research program clearly needs more work.
  • Green Climate Fund — its governing instrument was adopted in COP17 and it will now be created in the next 12 months.

The Green Climate Fund is a clear advance; for the first time, we have a large multilateral financial institution outside the Bretton-Woods institutional framework where developing countries have at least 50% of the board and which will receive guidance from the COP (the majority of members comes from developing countries). The question is how much real money it will have and whether adaptation will be financed significantly.

The LCA agreement is actually good — not perfect, still incomplete, but much better than expected. Dan Reifsnyder of the United States did a great job as Chair; after a stormy start in Bangkok in April, he managed to run a fair, open and transparent process. As expected, adaptation and technology transfer advanced while some issues like long-term finance and the agricultural programme still need work. Unfortunately the latter is very general and will have to be developed next year.

As part of the LCA agreement, governments moved forward on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (or REDD-plus) with an agreement that is good for people, forests and climate. In the REDD-plus negotiations I facilitated, we actually achieved the maximum common denominator in agreeing to consider market and non-market approaches to pay for REDD-plus activities. Such approaches will now be reviewed using environmental integrity, the safeguards and effectiveness in reducing emissions as criteria.

The agreement also mainstreams environmental, social and governance safeguards in the area where it matters most — finance. The principle that there should be co-benefits to poverty alleviation, biodiversity, ecosystem services and resilience, indigenous peoples and adaptation has also been established in the decision. An interesting new development is the idea of non-market-based approaches to REDD+ finance, such as a joint adaptation-mitigation mechanism.

This was a proposal by one Party and to deal with this, we developed a package that included their proposal and which was eventually accepted by the other countries. Some were concerned that this (a joint adaptation-mitigation/co-benefits approach) was no longer REDD+ but I argued that in the real world, people in fact did see forests more holistically.

Aside from the LCA decision on REDD+ Finance, the COP also adopted the Guidance for Forest Reference Levels and for the Safeguards Information System. While falling short of expectations from an environmental integrity point of view, the reference levels decision is an advance as countries now have enough to construct their first reference levels. The safeguards guidance was also criticised by NGOs for not being specific enough to the safeguards but I think this is OK. We should not lock ourselves in guidance that is either impractical or ineffective. There is always a chance to review next year.

The next step for REDD+ Finance is identifying modalities and procedures, including payment disbursements. This probably includes considering the market and non-market approaches that are most applicable to REDD+. Offsets are not dealt with in the decision and will obviously be subject to further discussions. Personally, I believe that we should take our time to do this right and not rush into decisions that we could regret as bad for people, forests and climate. The point is that we have sent the signal to investors even if it is not as strong as some would like.

Drivers of deforestation will also be a major theme next year in the REDD-plus negotiations as we did not have the time to address this in Durban.

It is interesting to know that we had two final stand-offs in the REDD-plus negotiations. By Thursday night, I knew we had an agreement. But some parties insisted on a proposal that effectively would have meant the COP endorsed markets unconditionally, and other Parties fought over language related to national/subnational MRV systems. We finally got all of this sorted out by 3am on Saturday and sent the final text to the Secretariat. Unfortunately, the latter got confused about which was the final text and did not include it in the final LCA text.

This in turn angered and confused many parties; to make matters worse, I was already in Johannesburg on my way to Cameroon for a meeting and could not fix things in person. Anyway, it did get sorted out with the LCA Chair reinserting the text verbally during the plenary. I told my colleagues that this was the risk of brinkmanship — we nearly lost the agreement because we held off and waited too long, in my view, to confirm our agreement!

It is in the area of overall mitigation that Durban fell short. Although the Kyoto Protocol has been extended with agreement on a second commitment period, it will be a shell of what it was without the United States (which did not ratify the Protocol from the very beginning), Japan, Russia and Canada. It will now essentially be an interim agreement as governments negotiate its replacement.

For mitigation then, the real advance is the so-called Durban Platform for Enhanced Action which would “develop a new protocol, another legal instrument or agreed outcome with legal force”. The final words were agreed to at the last minute by the European Union, India, China and the United States in what could be called a negotiating “dance”, which first saw almost all countries lined up against a strange combination of the United States, India and China (who yielded first, because they seem ready to take on legal commitments).

The really interesting development in the mandate in the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action is the lack of mention of the principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities” or “equity” in the decision. Does this mean it no longer will guide these negotiations? Since no other principle is mentioned anyway, maybe this has to be settled next year when the terms of reference of the new negotiations are agreed?

In any case, for someone like me who drafted the first version of the Berlin Mandate in 1995 when the Philippines chaired the Group of 77 and China and COP1, and who worked with an Indian and Chinese colleague to craft the “no additional commitments by developing countries” in the mandate, this is definitely something to watch out for.

This new negotiating process will be launched next year and will culminate in 2015 with the aim of the new agreement taking effect in 2020. Obviously, this is not adequate or precautionary enough to many governments and stakeholders. In fact, this is our last opportunity (if we still have it) to avert a warming of 2-3 degrees or more. If we do not have a strong and legally binding mitigation agreement by 2015, the worst impacts of climate change are likely inevitable.

In the last two years, it has become clear to me that the climate change process has become a permanent negotiation. Like world trade, countries will have to deal with this issue regularly. Climate change will not go away and will, unfortunately but rightly so, become increasingly more about adaptation and liability. A new generation of climate change workers — for the negotiations and implementing things on the ground — is thus imperative.

That is why, for the Philippines, I am so happy that we have institutionalised the participation of youth delegates in our delegation. Aside from making life easier for us by arranging meetings and reporting on developments, their boundless idealism and energy inspired us veterans to work even harder to achieve the most for the country, for our people, and yes, for nature. Without these young people reminding me of what was at stake, I probably would not have lasted four sleepless and restless days and nights (others in the delegation, including our high officials, went on for six days).

When I am asked if I am depressed about the results of Durban, my answer is an emphatic no. We did have a result and made some progress. And with so many young people working with us now on climate change, how could I not say that we made progress on climate change in Durban?

You can reach Tony by email, or follow him on Facebook and twitter.

 

December 14, 2011 Written by: Michelle Kovacevic
Photo courtesy of Ainhoa Goma/Oxfam

DURBAN, South Africa (14 December, 2011)_The U.N. climate change talks in Durban resulted in a mixed bag for REDD+: progress on how to set reference emissions levels, progress on defining how to measure emission reductions stemming from forestry initiatives, but a weak decision on social and environmental safeguards for the program, and no advances on sources of long-term funding, according to CIFOR’s leading climate scientist.

“We are now seeing the technical obstacles to REDD fall by the wayside and the decisions made on REDD in Durban are a vote of confidence in the progress that the scientific community has made over the last few years. However, we do not have progress on the ‘politics behind the money’ and without this we cannot talk about sustainability of REDD,” said Louis Verchot, CIFOR Principal Scientist.

Erik Solheim, Environment and International Development Minister for Norway, the leading global REDD+ donor, described the forest conservation scheme as the biggest success story so far in global climate change negotiations, but called for countries to be “more daring” in their efforts to cut emissions and slow climate change.

The Durban summit, officially the longest UN climate meeting since 1995, was held up due to disputes over a decision to extend commitments under the Kyoto Protocol. While delegates representing 194 nations agreed to a second commitment period beginning in 2013, the legal framework has yet to be decided and no new emission reduction targets were made.

“If there is no certainty of long-term emission reduction requirements and an international framework in which offsets could function, there is also no certainty about any market opportunity for REDD.”

However, as confidence in the verification of carbon offsets grows, the private sector may increase their financial support role of REDD+ programs, said Mary Nichols of the California Air Resources Board. California’s recently legislated cap and trade program may allow companies to buy carbon credits to offset part of their emissions from outside the US and allow funding to flow into REDD+ schemes as early as 2015.

In the meantime, an increasing number of new donors have started to support REDD+, said Kenneth Andrasko of the World Bank’s Carbon Finance Unit. “The past two years have seen considerable donor contributions to multilateral REDD+ initiatives … the concept is gaining hold more broadly.”

The negotiations on REDD+ centred around four key areas: finance, safeguards, reference levels, and monitoring, reporting and verifying (MRV) of carbon emissions from forest activities. Progress on safeguards, reference levels, and MRV were achieved quite early in the negotiations, while a piecemeal decision on REDD+ finance only came about after much deliberation.

Decision on REDD+ finance a “mediocre outcome”

The draft REDD+ text put forward to negotiators last week by the UNFCCC’s ad-hoc working group on the Long-term Cooperative Action (LCA) was light on financing details, with most of the difficult decisions about specific rules that will govern financial mechanisms put off until next year’s climate summit in Qatar (read the LCA’s decision on finance from COP17 here).

“There’s going to be submissions of views from the parties, an expert workshop, a technical report by the Secretariat of the UNFCCC, and then all these texts will be put before the COP next year for a draft decision. So we still have one more year of uncertainty to go,” Verchot said.

While the REDD+ draft text on finance was accepted quite early in the talks, discussions on whether the next year’s decisions on finance will be based on markets, funds or a combination of possibilities prolonged the negotiations, he said.

Due to the delay of a robust decision on long-term finance, Verchot said he believes the talks did little to reduce uncertainty around REDD+ markets. Few observers expect to see a REDD+ market emerge this side of 2020, he said.

“Markets will still go forward as experimental but there is only so long that people will continue to experiment. We know there will be some sort of emission reduction requirements so that is at least reassuring, but it still is a mediocre outcome on finance.”

A robust MRV system may help REDD+ be considered in the Clean Development Mechanism

A major win for REDD+ at Durban was the decision on robust reference emissions levels, Verchot said.

This may help REDD+ become similar to the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), a scheme that allows projects in developing countries to earn emission reduction credits, which can be used by industrialised countries to meet part of their emission reduction targets mandated under the Kyoto Protocol.

While there has been some concern that allowing forestry credits into emissions trading schemes could flood the market and see developed countries buying up credits rather than reducing their own emissions, it may provide a critical source of funds for REDD+ developers to help push the scheme forward.

Kyoto’s first commitment period excluded forest conservation and avoided deforestation from the CDM, due to major concerns over the enormous monitoring efforts required. However, the development of robust MRV systems will hopefully address this, Verchot said.

“It is not clear yet how REDD+ relates to Kyoto because it is not part of the CDM; however, the robust MRV systems that have been achieved may help REDD+ gain access into this mechanism in the future,” he said.

However, it is unlikely that discussions around this will begin before 2020, he said, as the EU’s emissions trading scheme (EU-ETS) — the largest multi-national, greenhouse gas emissions trading scheme in the world — “will not consider anything about REDD until 2020”.

“In 2008 when the EU considered whether they would allow REDD+ into the ETS, they felt that a lot more discussion needed to happen as there were concerns about the permanence of emissions reductions from REDD, and how to measure and report achieved emissions reductions in forestry.”

“With the decision on MRV at Durban, we are one step closer to making REDD+ robust enough to be part of a more comprehensive climate deal,” Verchot said.

Progress on safeguards stalled until we see some “strong language”

According to Florence Daviet of the World Resources Institute, the negotiations on safeguards played out in two arenas: technical discussions about guidance for safeguard reporting, and also in the LCA discussions on REDD+ finance (read the decision on safeguards and MRV here).

The wording on how developing countries must report how they have implemented social, environmental and governance safeguards has been weakened, Verchot said, adding that this was most likely at the behest of developing countries, many of which lack the capacity to meet complex and costly donor requirements.

However, the lack of robust safeguard reporting rules may deter investors who want to ensure projects are properly monitored and do not threaten the rights of forest communities or damage the environment.

“There is a clear risk that REDD, without a credible system for safeguards, will not get sufficient funding, neither from public sources nor from private investors,” said Nils Hermann Ranum, head of policy and campaign division at Rainforest Foundation in a recent Reuters report.

While the negotiations led to only minimal additional guidance being made available to countries on safeguards, a link between the source and type of financing and safeguards requirements was acknowledged in the LCA’s decision on finance (see paragraphs 63, 64, 66, and 67).

“The language is vague, but statements like these link the safeguards and REDD+ finance more closely together … (at least) clearer than it had been in Cancun,” Daviet said.

However, it still offers a lot of loopholes due to the weak decision on safeguards, Verchot warned.

“One would have hoped to see stronger language referring to performance and remedial measures in cases of under-performance.”

Challenges and opportunities for REDD+ in the lead up to COP18

The biggest challenge going forward with REDD+ is still going to be finance, said Verchot.

“Until we have some sort of clarity about how money is going to flow and the size of emission reductions we expect to achieve with that, it is going to be very difficult to move into full-scale implementation of REDD+. There are a few countries that are already ready to move forward into phase three of REDD+ implementation, so we really need to get the ball rolling on this issue.”

Looking ahead, Tony La Vina, who facilitates REDD+ negotiations within the COP, is optimistic: “We now have a decision on safeguards and a decision on MRV … pretty good decisions I think, obviously not perfect, that will move us forward to implementation of REDD at the national level which is really what this is all about.”

http://environment.yale.edu/blog/2011/11/29/a-primer-on-redd-and-indigenous-peoples/

by Theo Varns | November 29th, 2011 | Category: Conferences, UNFCCC – Durban |5 comments

Katy Clark and I studied the issue of REDD+ and its implications for indigenous rights as we evaluated a joint project currently being implemented by the Coordinator for the Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon Basin (COICA), the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the Environmental Defense Fund and the Woods Hole Research Center.

Deforestation, conversion of forests to other uses, and forest degradation currently cause about 15% of annual global carbon emissions. REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation) is a program under negotiation at the COP that is a mechanism for wealthy countries to pay for efforts in developing countries to reduce rates of deforestation. REDD appears to offer one of the few good chances for agreement at Durban that most countries would be willing to support to achieve emissions reductions.

Some of the reasoning behind why REDD should work includes: payments can replace the economic benefit of cutting the forest (pay the logger to stop); it can finance long-term sustainable forest management practices that would not otherwise be viable; it can improve enforcement and monitoring in protected areas to reduce illegal logging or incursions; and money can also be used to fund reforestation (replacing lost forest) or afforestation (planting trees where there were none previously).

Therefore, the money paid to carry out these activities should result in some extra amount of carbon stored on the site (e.g. in the trees and soil) that is additional to the carbon that would have been there without those payments. If we can measure that baseline carbon trajectory and compare it to the additional carbon that results from REDD, we should in theory be able to determine the cost per ton of storing that carbon on the site. In a global market for carbon credits, wealthy countries would like the option of paying for those extra tons of carbon because it likely would be less expensive to keep carbon stored in tropical forests than it would be to reduce emissions in developed countries (e.g. through renewable energy, new regulations on power plants & automobiles, or efficiency standards).

However, such a program risks funneling money to the land users and governments most responsible for deforestation, while leaving nothing to parties that have conserved their forests well. It might provide an incentive to cut down forests with high biodiversity and replace them with exotic monoculture plantations, if the only goal is to put more carbon in the ground. Safeguards are being negotiated that are meant to prevent these perverse possibilities from happening. REDD has officially become REDD+, the “plus” denoting the goal of rewarding existing forest conservation, sustainable forest management, and enhancement of carbon stocks, even if fewer “additional” tons of carbon would be gained in such projects.

The plus is particularly relevant to indigenous forest-dwelling peoples, who have an exceptional track record in protecting their forests that often exceeds the record of their governments. They have contributed almost nothing to carbon emissions, yet by and large suffer higher rates of poverty, threats to their livelihoods and traditional lands from development interests, and because of their close dependence on their natural environments, are at greater risk of suffering from changes in climate that affect the ecosystems, species, and seasonal patterns that they rely on.

Many indigenous rights groups also argue that through REDD, rich countries are attempting to impose a neo-liberal/colonial mechanism that tries to partially absolve themselves of the responsibility to reduce their emissions, and allows them to capture and profit from the future monetary value of forest carbon. They argue that indigenous peoples have been left out of negotiations and have played no role in designing the dozens of pilot projects currently taking place around the world. They are concerned that governments will maintain centralized control over forests in order to receive REDD funding, rather than grant indigenous peoples the territorial rights they have fought so hard to obtain.

How can these issues be addressed in a REDD+ project? Can REDD+ actually be implemented in a way that benefits indigenous peoples, respects their rights, and avoids these unintended consequences? Or are the problems simply too difficult to overcome? We will describe our findings and recommendations in an upcoming post!

5 Comments so far

  1. Peter Jones November 29th, 2011 6:02 pm

    You might find this recent statement by the International Indigenous Peoples Forum on Climate Change concerning REDD+ and effective guidelines useful: http://indigenousclimate.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=170%3Aiipfcc-opening-statement-durban-climate-talks&catid=3%3Anews&lang=en

  2. Peter Jones November 29th, 2011 6:04 pm
  3. Bill Stanley November 30th, 2011 10:55 am

    Good points. Check out work of the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Alliance for evolving standards and 3rd-party verification approach to ensure that communities are involved in the design of REDD+ projects, and that native biodiversity doesn’t suffer. http://www.climate-standards.org/index.html

  4. Daniela Marini December 1st, 2011 5:36 am

    Great Post Theo! I’m following the ‘dark side’ of REDD at the conference… Bolivia is talking at loud about it. Post coming soon as well….

  5. Max December 2nd, 2011 6:27 pm

    Instead of wasting the money to finance an unstable and dangerous financial market in carbon, would do far more to global climate protection and the provision of modest funding selected to ensure the land rights of indigenous peoples and to support sustainable forest management part of the community.
    This would be an approach based on law and much more effective in terms of yield, based on proven systems of forest management. One approach to reduce emissions and protect the forests, but also to reduce poverty, ensure food security and protecting biodiversity.

http://www.lab.org.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1149:peru-redd-does-not-benefit-indigenous-peoples&catid=65:news&Itemid=39

Saturday, 03 December 2011 17:21 ENS

DURBAN, South Africa. (ENS) – A new UN-backed effort to create a financial value for the carbon stored in forests by paying communities to leave the trees standing is undermining the rights of indigenous peoples in Peru, leading to “carbon piracy” and land conflicts, finds a new report issued today by Peruvian indigenous organizations and an international human rights group.

peruforestRainforest in the Peruvian Amazon (Photo by mothclark62)The report, “The reality of REDD+ in Peru: Between Theory and Practice – Indigenous Amazonian Peoples’ Analyses and Alternatives,” was released at the ongoing UN climate conference in Durban, where some 20,000 delegates and observers are gathered to craft solutions to the climate crisis.

The report is published by Peruvian indigenous organizations AIDESEP, FENAMAD and CARE [see below for names in Spanish] and by the international human rights organization Forest Peoples Programme, based in the UK.

The report centers on the UN program Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation, commonly called REDD, which offers incentives for developing countries to reduce emissions from forested lands and invest in low-carbon paths to sustainable development.

REDD+ goes beyond deforestation and forest degradation to include conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks.

The UN predicts that financial flows for greenhouse gas emission reductions from REDD+ could reach US$30 billion a year, a North-South flow of funds that could reward carbon emissions reductions and support new, pro-poor development, help conserve biodiversity and secure vital ecosystem services.

But in Peru, the report shows that REDD project developers are roaming the rainforest trying to convince indigenous peoples and local communities to enter into REDD deals with promises of millions of dollars in return for signing away their rights to control their land and forest carbon.

Deals are being written using strict confidentiality clauses and with no independent oversight or legal support for vulnerable communities. Some of these peoples are not yet fully literate in Spanish, but are being asked to sign complex commercial contracts in English that are subject to English law.

peruvian_indianIndigenous man in the Peruvian rainforest (Photo by David Bodington courtesy Voice of America) “We live here in the Peruvian Amazon where there is a new boom, a new fever just like for rubber and oil but this time for carbon and REDD,” writes AIDESEP President Alberto Pizango Chota in the report. “The companies, NGOs and brokers are breeding, desperate for that magic thing, the signature of the village chief on the piece of paper about carbon credits, something that the community doesn’t understand well but in doing so the middle-man hopes to earn huge profits on the back of our forests and our ways of life but providing few benefits for communities.”

“We denounce this ‘carbon piracy’ that is one side of the reality of REDD in the Peruvian Amazon,” said Pizango, whose organization represents more than 1,400 indigenous communities.

“The other side is the big programs of the environmental NGOs, the world bank, the IDB [Inter-American Development Bank] and the government who promise to act with transparency and respect our collective rights, but will this include the respect of our ancestral territories and self determination?” asks Pizango. “The safeguards and guidelines of the big projects always say that they will respect our rights but the reality is always different,” he said.

Some communities already have come to regret early deals made with carbon traders and NGOs, and are now attempting to extricate themselves, according to the report.

One leader from the community of Belgica in southeast Peru explained, “We were presented with a trust fund in which the community is obliged to hand over the administration of communal territory and be subject to the decisions of the developer for 30 years.”

“This will not allow us to make decisions about our territory or plan for the future of our children,” he said.

Roberto Espinoza Llanos, coordinator of AIDESEP’s Climate Change program and a lead author of the report, said, “The commitments made by the previous government [of Peru] in 2011 were not made lightly. They were assumed by the state and approved in a global meeting of the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility.”

hunter_peruIndigenous hunter, Amazon River, near Iquitos, Peru (Photo by Shanta Somasundaram) “We hope that the present government and international entities like the World Bank will deliver on their promises to respect land and territorial rights,” he said. “Continual monitoring will be necessary to make sure they keep their word.”

In violation of Peru’s international obligation to recognize and secure indigenous peoples’ traditional possession of their forest lands, says the report, many indigenous communities have no secure land rights, as an estimated 20 million hectares of indigenous peoples’ customary territories in the Peruvian Amazon still possess no legal recognition, including those of isolated or ‘autonomous’ indigenous peoples.

At the same time, hundreds of formal requests for “conservation concessions” with the intention of establishing REDD projects have been submitted to the government of Peru by private individuals and environmental NGOs.

“Many of these would be concessions directly overlie indigenous peoples’ territories still awaiting legal recognition, thereby setting the stage for a state-backed land grab,” the report states.

In addition, “Efforts to protect forests through REDD+ are undermined by contradictory policies of other government sectors overseeing mining, energy, agriculture, infrastructure and national defence,” says the report.

Conrad Feather, project officer for Forest Peoples Programme and the report’s other lead author said, “REDD is not just a policy instrument being negotiated at the UN; unregulated REDD developments are already turning Peru into a center of international carbon piracy and the site for a potential land grab of indigenous peoples’ territories on a massive scale. Urgent measures are needed to protect the lands and livelihoods of indigenous peoples.”

But today, community consultation is occurring only after REDD+ projects have started, and a lack of awareness and understanding of REDD+ among communities and government agencies as well as project developers are clouding the prospect for the program’s success.

nahuamenNahua men post a map demarcating their traditional terrority in the Peruvian Amazon (Photo courtesy Forest Peoples Programme)As an alternative, the indigenous peoples’ organizations are urging the new Peruvian government to re-think the forest and climate plans developed by their predecessors and use REDD funds to secure indigenous peoples’ forest territories and support community-based solutions to tackle climate change.

These community and rights-based approaches are cost-effective and proven to protect forests, reduce emissions from deforestation and lead to poverty reduction, increased livelihood security and biodiversity conservation, the indigenous organizations maintain.

AIDESEP President Pizango said, “Only in this way can REDD truly become an opportunity for indigenous peoples instead of a threat.”

“For indigenous peoples in both the Peruvian Andes and Amazon climatic crisis is already a reality,” the report states. “Presently drastic changes are being observed in the frequency and intensity of rain, frost, hail, and drought. In the past five years, according to figures from the Peruvian Ministry of the Environment, 22% of glacier volume (some 7 thousand million m3) have been lost. This is the equivalent of the capital city of Lima’s water consumption in ten years.”

“What is worse,” says the report, “for 2025, glaciers below 5500 meters above sea level will have disappeared, drastically reducing the supply of a vital resource.”


cordillera_blancaClimber atop Pisco surveys the snow-covered peaks of Peru’s Cordillera Blanca, vulnerable to climate change, October 2011. (Photo by nic0704)The report, “The reality of REDD+ in Peru: Between Theory and Practice – Indigenous Amazonian Peoples’ Analyses and Alternatives,” was published by:

AIDESEP (Interethnic association for the development of the Peruvian Amazon) is a national confederation of indigenous Amazonian peoples in Peru, representing over 1,400 communities. http://www.aidesep.org.pe

FENAMAD (Federation of the Native Peoples of the river Madre de Dios and its tributaries) is the umbrella indigenous federation of the Madre de Dios region, Peru. http://fenamad.org.pe/noticias/

CARE – (Ashaninka Centre of the river Ene) is a local indigenous federation representing Ashaninka communities on the Ene River in the central rainforest region of Peru. http://ashanincare.org/

Forest Peoples Programme (FPP) is an international non-governmental human rights organization working to support the rights of peoples who live in forests and depend on them for their livelihoods. http://www.forestpeoples.org

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2011. All rights

2 December 2011

 

By RTCC Staff
RTCC in Durban

REDD+ looks to provide financial incentives to developing countries reducing emissions from deforestation

“The role of the forest is not for carbon stocks” said the
head of the Bolivian delegation, as REDD+ talk’s progress at COP17.

While REDD+ talks pick up speed at the negotiations in Durban, some delegations have suggested bringing forward issues that were intended for consideration at COP18, the Bolivian delegation spoke out in opposition of the scheme in its first press conference of the talks.

Rene Orellana, head of the Bolivian delegation said: “As people who live in the forest, we are not carbon stocks. We disagree with REDD because we oppose the commoditisation of the forest.”

“It’s a complex and dangerous situation to see forests as carbon stocks. The forest provides a role as food security, a water source and biodiversity for our indigenous population. REDD reduces the function of the forest to just one, carbon stocks.”

Currently the discussions around REDD+ are focussing on three main barriers to the implementation and scaling up of the scheme; how to monitor the carbon stored and saved in trees, how to safeguard populations in forest areas and questions remaining around the financial side – including how much finance will be available and where it will come from (i.e. market mechanisms, public finance etc).

Bolivia – a country which has 50% forest coverage – aims at putting forward a different proposal based on finding different sources of finance other than carbon credits, the recognition of multiple forest functions and methodologies for integrated forest management.

However, the Bolivian delegation said that no attention was being paid to the proposals they had put on the table.

Indigenous Leaders Alert the UNFCCC and the World to the Imminent Threat that REDD Poses to their Territories and Livelihoods

December 1st, 2011
marlon Santi from Ecuador, former President of CONAIE. Photo: Orin Langelle

Durban, South Africa (IPCCA). As the UNFCCC COP 17 opens in Durban, South Africa, a gathering of indigenous leaders from around the world discussing biocultural protocols and REDD warns the UNFCCC and the international community of the grave danger that REDD and market based solutions to climate change mitigation pose to their cultures, territories and livelihoods.

“For my people, the forest is sacred, it is life in all its essence, we can protect Pachamama only if this is respected. REDD and other market mechanisms have turned our relationship with forests into a business. As we are targeted, this is not only a new form of climate racism but also represents a false solution which undermines the climate regime” said Marlon Santi, a leader of the Sarayaku Quichua community of Ecuador.

The IPCCA leaders discussed their experiences with using a biocultural approach to assessing climate change impacts as well as the impacts on their livelihoods and the ecosystems found in their territories in order to develop appropriate responses. In forest ecosystems, impacts of REDD and market based mechanisms were analysed from diverse local contexts such as the Indian Adivasi and the Sapara Nationality of Ecuador to build a common understanding:

  • They commodify life and undermine holistic community values and governance
  • They block community access to forests and customary use
  • They lead to establishment of monoculture tree plantations which promote land grabbing
  • They are portrayed as vehicles for strengthening land tenure rights but in fact are used to weaken them
  • They are used to justify continued emissions in the North and thus are hypocritical false solutions to the climate crisis

The IPCCA is an example of how indigenous communities are undertaking climate change assessments on their own terms, and are illustrating the danger of market based mitigation mechanisms. Our knowledge systems and our distinctive spiritual relationship to our territories can contribute to a deeper, localized and holistic understanding of what we and the world is facing” said Alejandro Argumedo, coordinator of the IPCCA. “Solutions that will indeed reduce emissions and ensure local livelihoods must come from including such local analysis.” The IPCCA network is building alliances with organizations such as the Global Forest Coallition to bring much needed indigenous and local voices to forums as the UNFCCC COP 17.

Through the analysis undertaken in the IPCCA workshop, the realization that many indigenous peoples have either been manipulated into accepting REDD like schemes, or are facing precarious national situations that REDD becomes an option for their survival, that it is necessary to ensure that all REDD actors fully respect the rights of indigenous peoples, in particular, to their right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent. However, they also caution that adherence to these principles does not solve the negative impacts, so they call upon all indigenous peoples to maintain their integrity and demand to be respected (Click here for full declaration).

Contact:

Alejandro Argumedo,

International Coordinator

Indigenous Peoples’ Biocultural Climate Change Assessment (IPCCA) initiative

Asociación ANDES

Tel: +51 84 245021

alejandro@andes.org.pe

 

In Durban

Jose Proaño

Land is life

Telf +27 (0)793370519

infoamazonia@me.com

Rebecca Quaicoe

2 December 2011


A network of people and organisations from across the world have lashed out against the introduction of the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) programme in developing countries because they believe it is an insensitive way of solving carbon emission problems.

Dubbed the No REDD Platform which is a loose network of researchers, activists, organisations and movements, they consider the REDD+ and the carbon market a hypocrisy which will not impact global warming.

At a press conference on the fringes of the on-going COP17 the Global Forest Coalition, made up of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and Indigenous Peoples’ Organisation (IPOs) from across the globe, expressed concerns about how forests have become a business market for multi-national organisations in the mining and timber industry.

The prospect of gaining carbon credits by acquiring land to implement REDD+ has caught the eye of the private sector. In many countries, including Papua New Guinea and the Republic of Congo, there are reports of a carbon rush. In Mozambique, private investors have expressed an interest in acquiring more than 22 percent of the country’s land — an area larger than the 16 percent of protected areas — for REDD+. But Mozambique, like many other developing countries, is still in the early stages of preparing a REDD+ strategy.

Tanzania on the other hand has developed a National Strategy for REDD+. The country is endowed with large and valuable forest resources which offer habitat space for wildlife, bee-keeping, natural ecosystems and genetic resources. However, it is also faced with a number of fundamental environmental problems such as deforestation and forest degradation.

Tanzania is one of the original nine countries receiving support from the United Nations REDD programme to implement the REDD+ initiative in the country.

However at the press conference, Simone Lovera, Director of GFC said REDD+ has dire consequences on the lives of indigenous people saying that “for us, everything is life, and life cannot be negotiated or sold on a stock market, this is a huge risk and will not resolve environmental crisis”.

In an open letter, with four-pages of signatures, sent to the International Donor Community from NGOs and IPOs, the group expressed its concerns that REDD+ projects are already having severe negative impacts on the environment and on the economically and politically marginalized groups in society, particularly indigenous people, small farmers, other forest dependent communities and women.

They contended that with a sudden increase in the economic value of forest land through the introduction of performance payments for forest conservation under the implementation of REDD, indigenous people who are mostly farmers who depend on the land for their sustenance will have to compete with politically and economically influential groups that see the forest as a profit making market.

Rather, they said the REDD+ should look at mineral, oil, gas or coal exploration and extraction activities and large-scale infrastructure projects such as hydroelectric dams, as well as incoherent government policies in general.

By Kristin Palitza

DURBAN, South Africa , Nov 29, 2011 (IPS) – Organisations working with indigenous peoples living in forests say the United Nations programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries (REDD+) is just another way for big corporates to reap huge profits.

REDD+ has been touted as a global scheme to conserve forests, enhance carbon stocks and support sustainable forest management.

“It is a system where you pour a lot of money into forests that will attract powerful international investors who will make big profits,” warned Simone Lovera, managing director of the Global Forest Coalition, a worldwide network of more than 50 non-governmental organisations and Indigenous Peoples’ Organisations based in Amsterdam, Netherlands. She spoke during the U.N. 17th Conference of the Parties (COP 17), which is taking place in Durban, South Africa, from Nov. 28 to Dec. 9.

Lovera does not contest that deforestation and forest degradation are key climate change culprits. Caused by agricultural expansion, conversion to pastureland, infrastructure development or destructive logging, they account for nearly 20 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, according to the U.N., more than the entire global transportation sector and second only to the energy sector.

REDD+ is supposed to turn this around. Since it was started in 2005, the programme enables industrialised countries in the North to reward reductions of carbon emissions to nations in the South. It is basically a system of performance-based payments that are financed through global carbon markets. The U.N. predicts that finance for greenhouse gas emission reductions from REDD+ could reach up to 30 billion dollars per year. The money is supposed to go towards pro-poor development, help conserve biodiversity and secure vital ecosystem services.

But indigenous communities say this is not so. It was big, international forestry businesses that ultimately benefited from the carbon deals, not the locals who have lived in and off the forests for many generations. Instead, locals are kicked off their land to make space for large monoculture plantations aimed at offsetting carbon emissions in the north.

Lovera said there are many risks inherent to REDD+ that indigenous communities are unable to address because they lack access to information and education, such as forced, non-transparent contracts and land grabbing. What forest-dependent communities need instead, she argued, are national public policies that support sustainable forest management.

Lovera said the U.N. promise of the scheme generating billions of dollars annually was “a big fairytale”, a way of green washing. “There won’t be big carbon financing for REDD+. Carbon markets are collapsing. It’s a very risky scheme that is creating havoc all over the world,” she cautioned.

Her prediction is likely to be correct. A World Bank draft report, written for a G20 meeting in November and leaked to the Britsh Guardian newspaper in September, confirmed the trouble global carbon markets are in. “The value of transactions in the primary CDM market declined sharply in 2009 and further in 2010 … amid chronic uncertainties about future mitigation targets and market mechanisms after 2012,” the World Bank stated.

In the meantime, the U.N. continues to pump large amounts of finance into REDD+. Last month, for example, Nigeria’s national REDD+ programme received four million dollars in funding, which the U.N. says brought total funding in 14 countries worldwide to nearly 60 million dollars. The funds are aimed at increasing the capacity of national governments to implement carbon-saving strategies together with local groups, such as indigenous peoples and other forest-dependent communities.

“The U.N.-REDD programme’s support is invaluable because climate change is a global problem and the issues of REDD+, sustainable forest management and sustainable livelihoods cannot be handled by the country alone,” said Salisu Dahiru, national coordinator for REDD+ in Nigeria.

But organisations working with forest-dependent communities say the benefits for local people are minimal.

“We say very clearly ‘no’ to REDD+. Under it, people are being expelled from nature so that big industries can profit from carbon storage,” argued Winnie Overbeek, the international coordinator of the World Rainforest Movement, a non-governmental organisation based in Montevideo, Uruguay.

In Uganda, for example, a case was documented where 22,000 people were violently evicted from the Mubende and Kiboga districts earlier this year to make way for the United Kingdom-based New Forests Company to plant trees, to earn carbon credits and ultimately to sell timber. Similar incidents happened to indigenous peoples all over the world, said Overbeek.

“REDD+ is about making more profit, continuing pollution and disrespecting the rights of forest people all over the world. It’s about land grabbing,” he warned. “It’s time to stop thinking about REDD+ and start protecting local populations and their land rights.”

Marlon Santi, a member of the Quichua indigenous community that lives in the Amazon Region of Ecuador, said he has experienced first-hand how REDD+ took away people’s livelihoods. The scheme has led to mega forestry projects that exist to the detriment of local people.

“Forests have become a negotiating space to make money. They are used as business opportunities. That’s unacceptable to us,” said Santi. “REDD+ projects are hypocritical. We need real political solutions that benefit everyone.”

He hoped the negotiators at this year’s COP 17 will grant an open ear to his people’s needs.

(END)

#

http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=106019

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Imagen activaDurban, South Africa, Dec 2 (Prensa Latina) Indigenous people have great concerns with the so-called Green Climate Fund, which could become a mechanism to do business and not to fight global warming, an indigenous leader stated on Friday.

More images in: PhotosPL

In remarks to Prensa Latina, Miguel Palacin, co-president of the world indigenous caucus lobbying the 17th UN Climate Change Conference in Durban, stated that the greater benefited of this initiative could be the corporations, instead of the peoples and the climate.

“We are not talking of public funds, we are talking of private funds, which will probably become a great business,” stated the Peruvian indigenous leader, who also leads the Andean Coordinating Committee of Indigenous Organizations, comprised of groups from Colombia, Ecuador, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina and his country.

According to Palacin, the communities he represents are paying attention to the fund’s negotiations in Durban, and are ready to denounce the economic interests of those who want to derive benefit from that mechanism.

Palacin also said that the caucus stays alert to the results of those talks, awareness of a second period of commitment of the Kyoto Protocol, which great mitigation goals for developed nations.

The creation of that instrument was approved in the recent climate conference in Cancun, as of its predecessor held in Copenhagen, Denmark, where industrialized nations promised to mobilize 100 billion USD per year by 2020, to mitigation actions and adaptation to climate change in developing countries.

On Thursday, the Coordinating Committee of Indigenous Organizations in the Amazon, bringing together indigenous peoples from nine countries, said the initiative for reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation, known as REDD, “will not pass through indigenous lands” if a new legal framework is not established.

The 17th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the 7th Conference of the Parties of the Kyoto Protocol began on November 28 and will conclude December 9.

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Pay-to-protect-forests program affecting indigenous rights.

Peruvian indigenous organizations along with the Forest Peoples Program, an international non-profit that defends the rights of native forest-dwelling peoples, said in a recent report that carbon emission reduction programs tied to the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation, or REDD, a United Nations-led program, are hurting indigenous rights.

The REDD aims to lower emissions of greenhouse gases, which contribute to global warming.  REDD+ promotes reforestation, the sustainable management of forests, and other activities that help maintain healthy forests and its programs provide financial incentives to leave carbon-absorbing forests intact.

The report “The reality of REDD+ in Peru: Between Theory and Practice — Indigenous Amazonian Peoples’ analyses and alternatives,” published Nov. 30 during the United Nations 2011 Climate Change Conference held in South Africa Nov. 28-Dec. 9, and written by the Forest Peoples Program, the Inter-Ethnic Development Association of the Peruvian Amazon, and the Native Federation of the Madre de Dios River and Tributaries, said that private companies are making conflicts over land and resources worse.

REDD is one of the Clean Development Mechanisms, or CDMs, included in the Kyoto Protocol that allow countries to invest in projects that mitigate these greenhouse gases caused by electricity generation, public and private transportation, heavy industry and deforestation.

A carbon credit is the right to release into the atmosphere 1 TM of carbon dioxide (CO2). For example, if a business has a 100,000 TM annual limit on CO2 emissions, and it not only reaches this but releases 10,000 TM more, it needs to acquire carbon credits equal to the excess amount.

At the same time, projects that stop producing greenhouse gases can obtain Certified Emission Reductions (CER); each CER represents 1 TM that is not released into the atmosphere, and can be sold in the carbon credit market.

Those who promote the REDD projects try to convince the indigenous people and local communities to accept agreements with the promise that they will be paid millions of dollars in exchange for the rights of large chunks of their land, said the report, adding that many of the agreements include confidentiality clauses and are negotiated without a translator, in spite of the fact that many of these communities don’t speak Spanish or English, in which the contracts are written.

One leader of the Bélgica community near the border with Brazil was quoted as saying in the report that these private companies sent them an agreement in which the community would be obligated to hand over their land’s administration rights to the project management for 30 years, stripping the community of its right to decide how to manage the land for themselves and generations to come.

According to the Forest Peoples Program and the indigenous organizations, some 20 million hectares (50 million acres) of Peruvian Amazon forest lacks legal recognition, which violates the Peruvian government’s international obligations to recognize and provide a secure environment to the indigenous peoples’ forested lands.

Private companies have taken advantage of this lax legal system, and request “conservation concessions” from the Agriculture Ministry since they are not legally recognized as indigenous lands even though it is their native territory.

The report adds that instead of taking money from the “insatiable” carbon credit market, there is a small cost to ensure that these land rights are respected and that the indigenous forest territories can be maintained by the community.

Basing a program on the respect for indigenous people’s rights has been proven to provide effective protection of forests, not only reducing emissions caused by deforestation but also because it reduces poverty, ensures food security and biodiversity, said the report. —Latinamerica Press.

Ten of the worst REDD-type projects

By Chris Lang, 23rd November 2011

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A recently released booklet, “No REDD Papers, Volume 1” (pdf file 2.5 MB), includes a list of 10 of the worst REDD-type projects affecting indigenous peoples. The booklet was produced by Carbon Trade Watch, Global Justice Ecology Project, Indigenous Environmental Network, Justseeds Artists’ Cooperative and Timberwatch Coalition.

The booklet also includes critiques of carbon trading, explanations of how REDD threatens Indigenous Peoples, local communities and forests. It looks at the potential beneficiaries of REDD and explains why REDD is not a solution. A fascinating article by Tom Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environmental Network explains why REDD cannot be fixed by attempts to detach it from the carbon markets, by attempts to ensure that the money “goes to the right place”, or by attempts to include free, prior and informed consent.

No REDD Papers, Volume I is a must read for all who seek to know the truth about this mercantilist tool called REDD. It is also highly recommended for those who believe that policies to fight the current climate chaos must see the people and Mother Earth, and not merely see trees as commodities for cash and carbon speculation.”

Nnimmo Bassey, winner of the Right Livelihood award in 2010, Executive Director of Environmental Rights Action/ Friends of the Earth, Nigeria (ERA/FoEN), Chair of Friends of the Earth International.

Here’s the list of the ten worst REDD-type projects, from No REDD Papers, Volume I:

Ten of the worst REDD-type projects[1] Affecting Indigenous Peoples & Local Communities

Latin America

1. Chevron uses armed guards for a REDD-type project in Brazil. The Nature Conservancy, General Motors, American Electric Power, Society for Wildlife Research and Environmental Education, and Chevron (previously known as Texaco), infamous for destruction caused in Ecuadorian Amazon, have implemented the Guaraqueçaba Climate Action Project in the ancestral territory of Guarani People with uniformed armed guards called “Força Verde” or “Green Force” who intimidate and persecute local communities; jailing and shooting at people who go into forest as well as forcibly entering and searching private homes without due authorization[2] “…[T]he project has caused devastating impacts on the local communities…”[3]

2. An Indigenous leader was criminalized for defending his people and territory from an Australian carbon cowboy who duped the Matsés People of the Peruvian Amazon into signing a REDD-type contract for perpetuity and written in English, which grants the carbon trader total control over the Matsés People’s land, way of life, intellectual property, forests and carbon. The contract also stipulates that anyone who denounces this scam will be sued.[4] The carbon trader has brought charges against Indigenous Matsés Leader Daniel Jimenez. National and international Indigenous Peoples’ Organizations, AIDESEP (National Organization of the Amazonian Indigenous Peoples of Peru) and COICA (Coordinating Body of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon Basin), demanded the expulsion of the carbon trader from Peru.[5] The carbon trader has censored and attacked the freedom of expression and freedom of press of a journalist who covered the story for
REDD Monitor.[6]

3. Indigenous Peoples in Voluntary Isolation are threatened by REDD-type plantation projects related to the Inter-Oceanic Highway and logging concessions to be implemented near their territories in the Peruvian Amazon. Indigenous Peoples in Voluntary Isolation avoid contact with other people and societies and live in remote regions. They are highly vulnerable for a number of reasons including their lack of defenses against common diseases. Contact with others such as REDD-type project implementers in the Madre de Dios region of the Peruvian Amazon could be disastrous for the Yora People and
the Amahuaca People who live in voluntary isolation.[7]

4. In Bolivia, BP, whose oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico was the biggest environmental disaster in the history of the United States, participates in the biggest REDD-type project in the world in the Chiquitano People’s territory, which helps it to greenwash its destruction of biodiversity and communities’ livelihoods.[8] Yet another example of the extractive industries like Dow, Rio Tinto, Shell, Statoil, BP Amoco, American Electric Power—AEP and BHB Billiton which have historically caused pollution and deforestation and are promoting REDD as a profitable opportunity to “offset” their ongoing pillaging of the planet. As noted in the New York Times, “… programs to pay for forest preservation could merely serve as a cash cow for the very people who are destroying them.”[9]

5. In numerous places in the world, REDD-type projects and policies are being implemented in violation of the right of Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC). In Ecuador, the government continues to develop a REDD program despite the fact that the most representative organization of Indigenous Peoples, the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador, (CONAIE), has explicitly rejected the implementation of all REDD+ policies and projects in the country.[10]

Africa

6. Despite Amnesty International’s recommendation to “stop immediately the practice of forced evictions,”[11] as Kenya’s Mau Forest is made “ready” for a UNEP-funded REDD+ project, members of the Ogiek People continue to suffer violent evictions, and Ogiek activists are attacked for protesting land grabs.[12] Minority Rights Group International includes the Ogiek People in their list of “Peoples Under Threat” from genocide, mass killings or violent repression[13] and this latest wave of evictions could threaten the cultural survival of the Ogiek People.

7. Over 22,000 people were violently evicted from the Mubende and Kiboga districts in Uganda to make way for the UK-based New Forests Company to plant trees, to earn carbon credits and ultimately to sell the timber.[14] According to the New York Times, “New Forests Company, grows forests in African countries with the purpose of selling credits from the carbon dioxide its trees soak up to polluters abroad.”[15] The New York Times also reports “… [V]illagers described gun-toting soldiers and an 8-year-old child burning to death when his home was set ablaze by security officers.[16] New Forests Company is 20% owned by the HSBC bank and investors in the project include the World Bank. Evicted successful farmers are reduced to becoming poorly paid plantation peons on the land they were evicted from. “Homeless and hopeless, Mr. Tushabe said he took a job with the company that pushed him out. He was promised more than $100 each month, he said, but received only about $30.”[17]

Asia

8. Two of the biggest greenhouse polluters on the planet, oil giants Gazprom and Shell, which is infamous for the genocide of the Ogoni People and environmental destruction in Nigeria’s Niger Delta, bankroll the Rimba Raya REDD project in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia.[18] The project is also supported by the Clinton Foundation and approved by the Voluntary Carbon Standard (VSC) and the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Alliance (CCBA). Nnimmo Bassey, the Director of Environmental Rights Action (FoE Nigeria) and Chair of Friends of the Earth International, says, “We have suffered Shell’s destruction of communities and biodiversity as well as oil spills and gas flaring for decades. Now we can add financing REDD for greenwash and profits to the long list of Shell’s atrocities.”[19]

Oceania

9. In Papua New Guinea, “carbon cowboys” are running amok, conning and coercing communities into signing away their land rights with fake contracts.[20] The land and power of attorney of 45,000 indigenous in East Pangia was handed over to a carbon trader.[21] “Carbon finance and REDD have triggered a ‘gold rush’ mentality.”[22] Scandals, scams and fraud abound.[23]

State to state: California, USA and Chiapas, Mexico

10. The State of California is promoting subnational carbon market REDD in Chiapas, Mexico, Acre, Brazil, Aceh, Indonesia and Cross River, Nigeria.[24] In Chiapas, Mexico, Tzeltal People of the community of Amador Hernandez denounce the California REDD project as a climate mask “to cover up the dispossession of the biodiversity of the peoples.”[25] The community has denounced what they perceived as a land grab. A year before, the villagers said, all government medical services, including vaccinations, had been cut off; several elderly people and children died due to lack of medical attention. This neglect, they believed, was due to their refusal to capitulate to the demands of REDD. “They’re attacking our health as a way of getting access to our land,” Martinez said.[26] The community has asked the governor of Chiapas to “suspend the state REDD+ project in the Lacandon Community Zone, as it constitutes a counterinsurgency plan that promotes conflicts between neighboring communities.”[27]

Notes:

[1] ^^ REDD-type projects are not necessarily official REDD projects but they are relevant to understanding potential impacts of REDD insofar as they involve forest carbon credits.

[2] ^^ PBS/Frontline World, Carbon Watch, Centre for Investigative Journalism, http://to.pbs.org/usTcsZ.
REDD Monitor, “Injustice on the carbon frontier in Guaraqueçaba, Brazil,” http://bit.ly/2g2Q0L.
Mother Jones, “GM’s Money Trees,” http://bit.ly/tqqtSN.
National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institute, Washington, DC, Fall 2011, “Conversations with the Earth,” http://bit.ly/thxogc.

[3] ^^ World Rainforest Movement, “Forest carbon project in Paraná, Brazil: Reduction of deforestation and persecution of local communities,” http://wrm.org.uy/.

[4] ^^ AIDESEP (National Organization of the Amazonian Indigenous Peoples of Peru), “Declaración de Iquitos,” http://bit.ly/tANafS.

[5] ^^ REDD Papers—Volume I (2011), “Colonizing territories with REDD: An Australian ‘Carbon Cowboy’ and the Matsés People in the Peruvian Amazon”;
REDD Monitor, “AIDESEP and COICA condemn and reject ‘carbon cowboy’ and demand his expulsion from Peru,” http://bit.ly/sgxlkz.

[6] ^^ REDD Monitor (2011), “A ‘carbon cowboy,’ internet censorship and REDD-Monitor,” and “‘Carbon cowboy’ [CENSORED] denounces indigenous chief in Peru,” http://bit.ly/sgxlkz.

[7] ^^ NO REDD: A Reader (2010), “Enclosure of forests and peoples: REDD and the Inter-Oceanic Highway in Peru,” http://bit.ly/vWgzdR.

[8] ^^ Cardona, T. et. al., “Extractive Industries and REDD,” in No REDD:A Reader (2010).

[9] ^^ New York Times, Elisabeth Rosenthal (2009), “In Brazil, Paying Farmers to Let the Trees Stand”, August 21.

[10] ^^ CONAIE, “Open Letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon demanding cancelation of all REDD projects,” REDD Papers—Volume I, original in Spanish, http://bit.ly/ul3YsT.

[11] ^^ Amnesty International, Kenya: Nowhere to Go: Forced Evictions in Mau Forest, “Incidents of forced evictions have been reported in different areas of the Mau Forest since 2004, affecting thousands of families,” http://bit.ly/u8c5am, p.1-2.

[12] ^^ See: International Working Group on Indigenous Affairs (2011), “Kenya’s ‘Forest People’ in Bitter Fight for their Ancestral Homes,” April 15. Minority Rights Group International (2011),
“Minority Rights Group Condemns Targeted Attacks on Ogiek Activists,” March 7. First Peoples International (2011),
“In new Kenya, old guard ‘land-grabbers’ attack key leaders -Ogiek land activists survive assaults.” Interim Coordinating Secretariat, Office of the Prime Minister on behalf of the Government of Kenya,
“Rehabilitation of the Mau Forest Ecosystem.” Los Angeles Times (2010),
“Kenyan tribe slowly driven off its ancestral lands.” Survival International (2010),
“Kenyan tribe’s houses torched in Mau Forest eviction,” April 8.
REDD Monitor (2009), “Ogiek threatened with eviction from Mau Forest.”

[13] ^^ The Standard, http://bit.ly/t0V8Ks.

[14] ^^ The Guardian (2011), “Ugandan farmer: ‘My land gave me everything. Now I’m one of the poorest’,” http://bit.ly/njik1U.
Wall Street Journal (2011), “African Land Acquisitions Comes Under Scrutiny,” http://on.wsj.com/v022iD.

[15] ^^ New York Times (2011), “In Uganda, Losing Land to Planted Trees—Slide Show,” http://nyti.ms/t4dDkL.

[16] ^^ New York Times, “In Scramble for Land, Group Says, Company Pushed Ugandans Out,” http://nyti.ms/ueK00N.

[17] ^^ Ibid.

[18] ^^ REDD Monitor (2010), “Shell REDD project slammed by Indigenous Environmental Network and Friends of the Earth Nigeria,” http://bit.ly/bEXM9j.

[19] ^^ Ibid.

[20] ^^ Gridneff, I. (2011), “Carbon conmen selling the sky,” The Sydney Morning Herald.

[21] ^^ “A Breath of Fresh Air,” video by Jeremy Dawes, http://bit.ly/S7RhK.

[22] ^^ Sydney Morning Herald, http://bit.ly/syhyY4.

[23] ^^ REDD Monitor, “REDD Projects in Papua New Guinea ‘Legally untenable’,” http://bit.ly/a7oVi6.

[24] ^^ REDD Monitor, “Just what REDD Needed. Carbon Offsets and another Abbreviation. Welcome to R-20,” http://bit.ly/rzMems.

[25] ^^ REDD Monitor (2011) Statement from Chiapas, Mexico: REDD project is a climate mask “to cover up the dispossession of the biodiversity of the peoples,” http://bit.ly/pNsIjL.

[26] ^^ Ibid.

[27] ^^ Climate Connections (2011), “Environmental, Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights Groups Reject International Offsets in California’s Global Warming Solutions Act,” http://bit.ly/uao2lc.

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