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REDD may harm forest people, alleges report

REDD is a threat to forest people, alleges report

REDD may harm forest people, alleges report

Rhett A. Butler,
December 2, 2008

A new report finds that the World Bank is not doing enough to protect indigenous rights under its mechanism to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD).

The report — titled “Cutting Corners: World Bank’s forest and carbon fund fails forests and peoples” — was issued by the Forests and the European Union Resource Network (FERN) and the Forest Peoples Program (FPP) at the start of UN climate negotiations in Poznan, Poland.

“Cutting Corners” alleges that the Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) — which provides seed funding for REDD projects — has rushed its review process and is failing to follow its own rules set to protect indigenous people and forest communities. Such groups fear that without a proper framework, REDD could be used by governments and carbon traders to force forest people off their lands.

“In this flawed process forest communities have not been properly consulted. As a result, donors could be complicit in a new global drive reinforcing old top-down policies that will only lead to more forest destruction,” said Saskia Ozinga, Coordinator of FERN. “We have seen from the EU’s FLEGT process, which aims to control illegal logging, that a proper consultation process will take years, but trying to shortcut consultations will just lead to long-term failure.”

Villager employed as a conservation worker at a reforestation project in Tanjung Puting National Park, Indonesia

“If measures to respect the rights of forest peoples are at the heart of efforts to combat deforestation, then forest and climate policies could do some good,” added Tom Griffiths, Coordinator of the Forest Peoples Program’s Responsible Finance Program. “It is alarming that the early government plans, approved by the World Bank, are simply business as usual. None of these REDD plans deal with the critical issues of governance, human rights, land tenure reforms and Free, Prior and Informed Consent.

“To attain sustainable forest and climate initiatives, forest peoples must be fully consulted about their design. International donors must also ensure that human rights and forest sector reforms are guaranteed before any international funding is released to developing countries for their national actions on forest and climate issues.”

“Cutting Corners” comes shortly after Friends of the Earth International (FOE), an environmental activist group, announced its opposition to REDD via a report titled “REDD Myths“. At the UNFCCC talks in Poznan, FOE says it will oppose attempts to include forests in carbon markets.

“During the climate talks, we will be demanding that forests are kept out of carbon markets, that plantations are entirely excluded and land rights are enforced as the basis of any forest policy,” said Joseph Zacune, Climate and Energy Coordinator with FOE. “If governments are serious about tackling climate change, deforestation must be stopped once and for all. To do this we need to tackle the consumption of agrofuels, meat and timber products which is driving deforestation and support good governance of forest resources.”

Other analysts say REDD — in a form that recognizes rural peoples’ rights — offers the best hope for preserving forests in the future while simultaneously fighting global warming.

“REDD can benefit biodiversity conservation as well as indigenous and rural peoples,” wrote Daniel Nepstad, Stephan Schwartzman, and Paulo Moutinho in a report published last year. “To succeed, national REDD programs must be consistent with UNFCCC and other UN principles, be transparent and have the active involvement of indigenous peoples and forest communities.”

“Rejecting REDD will not defend indigenous rights. Substituting official aid from developed countries for carbon market funding will not be a better, less risky alternative for reducing deforestation. Indigenous rights abuses, often caused by the same activities that drive deforestation, must be addressed directly.”


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