Carbon Colonialism vs. Informed Consent: Indigenous Rights at COP 15

In the Asia-Pacific region, experiences with a small number of REDD pilot projects are demonstrating troubling trends: consent of local and indigenous peoples living in REDD project sites is so far not being sought, and there is limited involvement of local and indigenous people in decision making. This is creating conflict fueled by mistrust and opposition from communities, wary of finding themselves at the losing end of commercial interest in the resources on which they depend.

Indigenous Peoples’ Day on 12 December 2009 will bring multiple stakeholders and rights holders together to draw attention to indigenous peoples’ rights and contributions in the context of climate change. Throughout the negotiations I will continue tracking discussions and progress on these and other issues of interest for civil society and indigenous peoples in Asia-Pacific. Do you have thoughts, stories or questions to share? Take a minute to comment on this post and get the discussion going.

To address these concerns about involving indigenous peoples, the International Indigenous Peoples’ Forum on Climate Change (IPPFCC) is demanding that REDD and any other new agreements dealing with mitigation or adaptation adopt the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UN-DRIP), including free prior informed consent (FPIC) about any carbon trading projects in forest lands where indigenous communities live. This position is supported by a number of Asia-Pacific delegations (and fervently so by Bolivia and Venezuela) but facing opposition from developed countries including Canada, New Zealand and the United States.

If the UN-DRIP does not feature in an international REDD agreement, the necessary task of recognizing local and indigenous peoples’ rights will fall to national policy makers. This is not new. Many of those countries that do not object to including the UN-DRIP in a REDD agreement are the same countries that sustainable forest management advocates have been lobbying for tenure reform for years.

Successful REDD will require that governments in the region overcome past reluctance to transferring statutory land rights to local and indigenous peoples. A strong commitment at the international level may help. Companies can also help by demanding verifiable co-benefits such as those outlined in the Climate, Community and Biodiversity (CCB) standards as basic requirements for investment in REDD. Putting in place processes and mechanisms to meet these standards will require upfront support.

But what does this signal for the negotiations in Copenhagen? Developed countries will be looking to ensure that “certain conditions are met” before they commit to funding REDD in developing countries. At the same time, civil society and indigenous peoples’ organizations will be working to ensure that a REDD agreement does not simply allow ‘rich polluters,’ companies and other intermediaries to benefit from the natural resource management practices of local and indigenous peoples without their consent. Developing country governments will need to play a vital role in helping to prevent this following Copenhagen, regardless of the specifics of an international agreement.

Indigenous Peoples’ Day on 12 December 2009 will bring multiple stakeholders and rights holders together to draw attention to indigenous peoples’ rights and contributions in the context of climate change. This day will also feature a stock-taking of advocacy achievements in the climate change negotiations, and define next steps for beyond Copenhagen.

Posted by Allison Bleaney, REDD-Net Coordinator

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: