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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:

  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.

  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.

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).


Alejandro Argumedo,

International Coordinator

Indigenous Peoples’ Biocultural Climate Change Assessment (IPCCA) initiative

Asociación ANDES

Tel: +51 84 245021


In Durban

Jose Proaño

Land is life

Telf +27 (0)793370519

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.


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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]


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]


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]


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]


[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,
REDD Monitor, “Injustice on the carbon frontier in Guaraqueçaba, Brazil,”
Mother Jones, “GM’s Money Trees,”
National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institute, Washington, DC, Fall 2011, “Conversations with the Earth,”

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

[4] ^^ AIDESEP (National Organization of the Amazonian Indigenous Peoples of Peru), “Declaración de Iquitos,”

[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,”

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

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

[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,

[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,”, 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,

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

[15] ^^ New York Times (2011), “In Uganda, Losing Land to Planted Trees—Slide Show,”

[16] ^^ New York Times, “In Scramble for Land, Group Says, Company Pushed Ugandans Out,”

[17] ^^ Ibid.

[18] ^^ REDD Monitor (2010), “Shell REDD project slammed by Indigenous Environmental Network and Friends of the Earth Nigeria,”

[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,

[22] ^^ Sydney Morning Herald,

[23] ^^ REDD Monitor, “REDD Projects in Papua New Guinea ‘Legally untenable’,”

[24] ^^ REDD Monitor, “Just what REDD Needed. Carbon Offsets and another Abbreviation. Welcome to R-20,”

[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,”

[26] ^^ Ibid.

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

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