Seeing 'REDD'?

Seeing 'REDD'?

Forests, climate change mitigation and the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities

By Tom Griffiths.

Governments will decide by the end of 2009 how developing country forests will be included in global efforts to mitigate climate change as part of a new post-2012 climate regime. Current negotiations seek consensus on the most effective methods and incentives for ‘reducing emissions from deforestation and for degradation’ (REDD), under which Northern countries would pay Southern countries for forestry practices within their national borders. One proposal is to give them aid money for the purpose. Another is for Southern countries to sell the carbon locked up in their forests to the North to allow Northern industries to continue polluting as usual under a global system of carbon trading. Other proposals recommend a combined public fund and market approach.

In parallel with the global climate negotiations, agencies like the World Bank and UN as well as donors like Norway have established a series of large international forest and climate initiatives to support governments to design REDD strategies and implement ‘demonstration’ activities. Donors are under pressure to generate early results and developing country governments are scrambling to secure REDD funds. At the same time, there is a rapid proliferation of voluntary REDD initiatives run by conservation NGOs, local governments and carbon finance companies seeking to make profits out of carbon in standing tropical forests.

As REDD proposals and projects gather momentum, indigenous peoples, forest movements and forest policy experts emphasise that effective and sustainable policies on forests and climate change mitigation must be based on the recognition of rights, respect for the principle of free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) and requirements for progressive forests sector tenure and governance reforms. They warn that without these preconditions, REDD incentives and methodologies will suffer serious moral hazards (paying polluters and forest destroyers), risk marginalising forest peoples and fail to tackle the underlying causes of deforestation.

This review highlights that while there is a growing recognition among many governments that indigenous peoples and local communities need to be consulted and rights addressed, existing intergovernmental proposals on decisions on REDD contain no clear commitments to address rights and equity issues. It is also noted that although new international forest and climate funds like the UN REDD Programme have pledged to uphold the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and to apply a rights-based approach, they seem reluctant to condition REDD funds on rights recognition and they lack effective oversight and accountability mechanisms. Scrutiny of the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility finds that its own rules that require prior consultation with forest peoples have not been applied in its early operations as governments developing REDD plans for the Bank have so far failed to properly involve forest peoples.

It is concluded that a business-as-usual approach to forest policies and governance must not be an option for climate change mitigation in forests. Government negotiators in Poznan and beyond must take on board the constructive proposals that indigenous peoples and civil society have placed on the table. They must also ensure that indigenous peoples and civil society have a seat at the negotiating table in the international climate negotiations as well as at forest and climate negotiations at the national and local levels. REDD money must be made conditional on recognising rights and improving forest governance, and REDD mechanisms must include tools to monitor implementation of governance and other reforms necessary for rights recognition.


The report can be downloaded in full from Forest Peoples Programme. Click here to download

Tags: Poverty REDD

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