COP21’S REDD+ News and Comments



Climate talks: rich countries should pay to keep tropical forests standing

Tropical forests provide a bargain climate service, cheaply reducing emissions. The Paris summit should agree payments for anti-deforestation programmes

A deforested area near Novo Progresso, in Brazil’s northern state of Para, pictured in 2009
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A deforested area near Novo Progresso, in Brazil’s northern state of Para, pictured in 2009. Photograph: Andre Penner/AP



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This article’s proposal should also require the enforcement of safeguards for forest peoples prior to release of the payments it calls for. It would then offer a truly sustainable & justice solution.

It hints at the greatest danger,” Still, many forest-rich developing countries are committed to protecting their forests, as evidence grows that the short-run gains are not worth the costs, and are often captured by a few at the expense of the many. These costs, in the worst cases, are counted in land wars and abuse of local people’s rights.” Those abuses & land wars could be reduced if the “REDD+” draft agreement requires crucial land & resource tenure and human rights for forest communities prior to funding.

The current draft of REDD+ & the Paris negotiations does not require those rights. The latest draft of REDD+ reads in Decision 1/CP.16: “72. … 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…. safeguards . This is vague “UNese” language qualifying vague “UNese” providing the dangerous illusion of safeguards that are not there. Leaving these rights vague certainly is a faster way to get Governments that do not want to enforce resource tenure & human rights for their forest peoples to cut deals with Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) & funders.

The world’s largest forests & their peoples primarily exist because these forests were not profitable to exploit due to inaccessibility, danger or fear of diseases. REDD+’s is creating an economic incentive to now make these forests & their peoples accessible. Carbon credit entrepreneurs, Government entities & NGOs have already started pushing REDD+ into the last remaining large forests. These “REDD+ pushers” are often more interested in to getting a cut of the carbon credit action than protecting the rights of forest people. “The Guardian”’s Sam Knight wrote about REDD+ in his article (, The incredible plan to make money grow on trees, “When money and trees mix, it is normally local people who get screwed”

Screwed is an understatement. REDD+ without enforced resource & human rights 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 dangers that 1.6 billion people who depend on the forests increasingly face, due to the current REDD+ agreement.

These disastrous land grabs could be avoided while increasing the benefits of REDD+ and lowering its costs according to the World Bank’s Social Development Department: “In one of the most robust studies available on the role of community-owned forests in carbon sequestration, 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, Living Story Foundation believes 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 forest peoples. These rights should be a prerequisite for the granting of REDD+ funds and funds should also earmarked for their securing or resolution and enforcement.


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