The long read
Under REDD+’s guise of an environmental win/win, it will create an economic incentive to make these forests & their peoples accessible. Carbon credit entrepreneurs, Government entities & NGOs have already started pushing REDD+ into the last remaining large forests, often, so the “Pushers” get a cut of the carbon credit action. The Guardian’s Sam Knight correctly wrote in about this overlooked toxic mix, “When money and trees mix, it is normally local people who get screwed”
Screwed is an understatement. REDD+ could cause the planet’s last great land grab, the destruction or impoverishment of millions of forest peoples & the loss of their unique resource management knowledge. These are the dire problems that 1.6 billion people who depend on the forests now face with the current REDD+ agreement.
REDD+ does not require crucial land & resource tenure and human rights for forest communities prior to funding.
Concerning these problems and unenforced rights the latest draft of REDD+ reads in Decision 1/CP.16:
“72. Also requests developing country Parties, when developing and implementing their national strategies or action plans, to address, inter alia, drivers of deforestation and forest degradation, land tenure issues, forest governance issues, gender considerations and the safeguards identified in paragraph 2 of annex II to this decision, ensuring the full and effective participation of relevant stakeholders, inter alia, indigenous peoples and local communities;”
The key toothless words there are “…request… to address …ensuring applied to the land tenure issues…. forest governance. This is vague UNese language wrapped in vague UNese providing the dangerous illusion of a safeguards that are not there.
REDD+ agreement in its current vague & dangerous form is to be included in the Paris COP21 agreement text. But it should only be included if it modified to stipulate that prior to REDD+ funding, that the resource & human rights of the forest peoples must be enforced or up to a sufficient standard & continue to show monitored improvement.
Concerning land tenure the World Bank’s Social Development Department stated the following:
“In one of the most robust studies available on the role of community-owned forests in carbon sequestration with data from 325 sites in 12 countries covering 594 user groups and 211 forest associations, Agrawal (2008) shows that the larger the forest area under community ownership the higher the probability for better biodiversity maintenance, community livelihoods and carbon sequestration. The growing evidence that communities and households with secure tenure rights protect, maintain and conserve forests is an important consideration for the world’s climate if REDD schemes go forward, and even if they do not.”
The private sector and intergovernmental organizations recognize that clear tenure rights are fundamental to secure and predicable transactions needed to compensate for the opportunity costs of reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation.
“…, prioritizing policies and actions aimed at recognizing forest community tenure rights can be a cost-effective step to improve the likelihood that REDD programs meet their goals.” World Bank SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT WORKING PAPERS Paper No. 120/December 2009
From our work and documentary interviews with Indigenous and non indigenous forest communities in 7 Latin American countries over 41 years, we believe that REDD+ should require that these resource rights be made statutory & binding for all indigenous people and other forest peoples whose rights do not conflict with the rights of adjoining indigenous peoples. These rights should be a prerequisite for the granting of REDD+ funds and funds should earmarked for their securing or resolution and enforcement.
Those who have title and benefit from their forests have a stake in their future and are the most likely to protect them. Governments have not protected these forests as effectively as those few forest peoples, that have human and tenure rights, and can depend on and defend their forest. These are rights most real democracies take for granted but now must be extended to forest people. One of the most cost and environmentally effective next steps will be to stipulate that prior to REDD+ funding human rights and resource tenure be enforced statutory rights.
Find further analysis of REDD+’s evolution thru the Paris Climate Conference at livingstoryfoundation.wordpress.com