Rainforest in Peru.
Lack of meaningful consultation with indigenous communities over forest carbon projects is causing social conflict and undermining efforts to responsibly reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in Peru under the REDD mechanism, argues a new report released during international climate talks in Durban.
The report, authored by three Peruvian indigenous organizations — AIDESEP, FENAMAD and CARE — and the Forest Peoples Programme, says that several REDD pilot projects “are already undermining the rights of indigenous peoples, and are leading to carbon piracy and conflicts over land and resources” in Peru.
A statement from the Forest Peoples Programme explains:
Project developers are roaming the jungle attempting to convince indigenous peoples and local communities to enter in to REDD deals with promises of millions of dollars in return for signing away their rights to control their land and forest carbon to third parties. Many deals are being conducted using strict confidentiality clauses and with no independent oversight or legal support for vulnerable communities. Some of these peoples are not yet fully literate in Spanish, but are being asked to sign complex commercial contracts in English that are subject to English law. Many communities have already come to regret some early deals made with carbon traders and NGOs, and are now attempting to extricate themselves.
The report, which cites examples from eight of the 35 active REDD pilot projects covering some 7 million hectares in Peru, says that some communities’ lack of secure land rights is a further complication for efforts to establish REDD+ projects in Peru. It notes that some 20 million hectares of indigenous territory in the Peruvian Amazon aren’t legally recognized by the Peruvian government, yet some of these areas are now being targeted as “conservation concessions” for REDD projects, potentially restricting the rights of indigenous people to use these lands.
While the report expresses alarm about how REDD is progressing in Peru, it proposes another alternative: use REDD funds to secure indigenous peoples’ territories and support community-based efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
“These community and rights-based approaches are cost-effective and proven to protect forests,” said a statement issued by AIDESEP.
“Only in this way can REDD truly become an opportunity for indigenous peoples instead of a threat,” added Alberto Pizango Chota, President of AIDESEP.