FEATURED ARTICLE: NATIONAL WILDLIFE FEDERATION: Our Call for an Ambitious Global Climate Agreement Has Been Answered: A Summary.


Our Call for an Ambitious Global Climate Agreement Has Been Answered

12/15/2015 // By David Burns


Delegates watch as Secretary Kerry voices U.S. support for the Paris Agreement. Photo by David Burns
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Delegates watch as Secretary Kerry voices U.S. support for the Paris Agreement. Photo by David Burns


Yes NWF, forests are important for reducing green house emissions, but what about the forest peoples who have been the forests’ best protectors?

REDD+ in the Paris Agreement (REDD) does not require the enforcement of the land tenure and safeguards (read Human Rights) for forest peoples, rather it endangers them.
REDD’s text in Decision 1/CP.16 states:
“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…”

The key non-binding words there are, “…requests…to address…” applied to the “…land tenure issues… forest governance…safeguards.” This is vague “UNese” language providing the dangerous illusion of safeguards that are not there. The fate of millions of forest peoples reside in the difference between enforcing resource and human rights vs requesting that they be addressed.

This National Wildlife Federation (NWF) blog states, “NWF encourages governments to ramp up financing for REDD+ before and after 2020…”. Money for REDD seems to be easier to come by than requiring the rule of law in remote forests. REDD could be easily gamed unless it requires standards for resource tenure and human rights. There will never be enough environmental cops to protect these forests from either those who are “above or outside the law”, or protect those “below the law” , marginalized forest people, who have no long-term legal stake in their forests.

The world’s unprotected forests and their peoples primarily exist because these forests were not profitable to exploit due to inaccessibility or danger. REDD is creating an economic incentive to now make these forests and their peoples much more profitable to exploit but without the enforcement of the rights that will protect forest peoples & create well regulated markets. Carbon credit entrepreneurs, Government entities and NGOs have started promoting REDD without the enforcement of required safeguards in the last remote forests

According to Ninawa Huni Kui, the president of the Federation of the Huni Kui people in Acre, Brazil in the Brazilian Amazon, the community he is from is no longer to fish in their own land, to cultivate food, or to practice agriculture. All of these activities are banned and have been declared illegal, and people are jailed if they participate in agriculture or go fishing. Leaders are being criminalized for opposing the [REDD] project,..”

Jorge Furagaro Kuetgaje, climate coordinator for COICA, the Indigenous People of the Amazon Basin stated, “For us to continue to conserve the tropical forests … we need to have strong rights to those forests. Death should not be the price we pay for playing our part in preventing the emissions that fuel climate change.” . A Global Witness report found that at least 116 environmental activists were murdered in 2014, and 40% of the victims were indigenous.” .

NWF & other REDD supporters, what is the strategy to amend REDD to ensure the recognition and enforcement of resource tenure and human rights for forest peoples prior to REDD payment or funding?

A, Agrawal’s study “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.” Agrawal, A (2008) Livelihoods, carbon and diversity of community forests: trade offs and win wins?’

World Bank SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT WORKING PAPERS Paper No. 120/December 2009 stated, “…the cost range of recognizing community tenure rights (average $3.31/ha) is several times lower than the yearly costs estimates for …. an international REDD scheme ($400/ha/year to $20,000/ha/year).” “…a relatively insignificant investment in recognizing tenure rights has the potential to significantly improve the world’s carbon sequestration and management capacity…, 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.”

?Got The Golden Rule?
How is REDD effective and just, if it only is requesting to address land tenure rights, forest governance, safeguards and participation for marginalized traditional forest peoples? Would the Paris Agreement negotiators and REDD promoters sign an agreement not to have their family’s property rights or human rights enforced but just request them to be addressed? Not to secure those rights prior to REDD funding or payment for marginalized forest peoples with minimal legal means and sophistication is unethical.

What is the strategy to apply the “Golden Rule” so that that prior to REDD funding or payments, human rights and customary resource tenure become enforced statutory rights?

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