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Archive for October, 2009

For the first time worldwide, free & ready-to-use high-resolution satellite data is now available to monitor forests & help reduce emissions from deforestation & forest degradation. The monitoring system has been launched by FAO and other partners as part of the Global Forest Resources Assessment. The monitoring system delivers data in a global sample grid at 13 000 locations and provides tools for their interpretation. It is designed to improve global and regional information on forest change in FAO’s assessments of forests. For a country the sample grid can be intensified and become a cost-efficient approach to measure national forest trends.

“This brings a revolution to the forest monitoring field. Never before have data of this kind been provided directly to users in developing countries. Monitoring will be cheaper, more accurate and transparent for countries that want to participate in reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation.” – FAO Director General Jacques Diouf.

Visit the Global Forest Resources Assessment website…

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The October issue of the UN-REDD Programme newsletter, featuring news on: five new countries that joined the UN-REDD Programme; the first regional consultation between indigenous peoples’ organizations from Asia and the Pacific and the UN-REDD Programme; and the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s request for funding of a Congo Basin approach for monitoring, reporting and verification.

Recommendations from the regional consultation included:

  1. taking advantage of the opportunity that REDD provides for engagement among the various stakeholders: CSOs, indigenous peoples, local government, private sector, and others
  2. strengthening the opportunities for multi-stakeholder dialogue
  3. addressing the widespread need for REDD training and awareness raising
  4. a call to the UN-REDD Programme and to the United Nations in general to support governments to improve their means of communication and working relationships with indigenous peoples and their organizations

The Newsletter also includes an analysis on best practices in engaging civil society in REDD in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and promoting co-benefits of forests. It reports on the XIII World Forestry Congress’s support of the inclusion of REDD-plus in the agreement on long-term cooperative action under UNFCCC.

Read the October issue of the UN-REDD Programme newsletter…

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Update on Indigenous UNFCCC Preparations
Special guest article from Fiu Mata’ese Elisara/Executive Director of OLSSI, Samoa

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FiuE

The few Pacific indigenous peoples’ representatives joined more than 200 of their indigenous brothers and sisters from around the world in Bangkok on Wednesday 07 October 2009 to call on all Parties to recognize and respect the inalienable collective rights over their lands, territories and resources. Policies and actions that are being negotiated now like REDD as just one example, directly affect their ancestral lands, territories, oceans, waters, ice, flora, fauna and forests thereby also affecting the survival and livelihoods of over 370 million Indigenous Peoples all over the world.

In a stock-taking plenary of the Ad-hoc Working Group in Long-term Cooperative Action (AWG-LCA) under the Bali Action Plan held on 2 October 2009 in Bangkok, developing countries expressed their strong concerns over efforts by developed countries to undermine their commitments under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) by shifting their responsibilities to the markets and in weakening their obligations at the Bangkok climate talks. They said that it was not only the Kyoto Protocol that was being “killed”, but also the Convention itself which was being buried under a new structure that would no longer be recognizable. Several developing countries said that it was simply unfair, unreasonable and unhelpful for developed countries to hide their conflicting economic interests behind efforts to re-enact olden days “land grabs” with modern days “sky-grabs”.

Indigenous peoples see much fraud in the current climate change negotiations and see the false solutions to climate change being proposed such as REDD, for example, as CO2lonialism of forests giving the carbon markets power and license to buy and sell permits to pollute through ‘allowances’ and ‘carbon credits’ targeting forests in their territories and lands.

“REDD commoditizes and privatizes the air and forests where carbon traders require legal title to the carbon in the forests and usurp the rights of indigenous peoples to their lands. REDD utilizes carbon market financing to generate profits for the culprit loggers, polluters and forest destroyers, and reduce many of their home forests in indigenous peoples lands and territories to mere carbon sequestration experiments and economic investments.” – Indigenous Environment Network

For Indigenous Peoples, REDD and REDD plus in any Copenhagen outcome must protect intact natural forests, enhance biodiversity, and restore degraded natural forests and not plantations which in their view are not forests, and should be excluded. Copenhagen must include ambitious targets for ending deforestation by 2020. Parties must affirm that traditional sustainable uses are not deforestation and are crucial components for effective adaptation and should address real drivers of deforestation such as large scale industrial activities like logging, cattle ranching, agro-fuel production, and must not benefit from any climate agreement on forests. Policies and measures that stop drivers of deforestation and trade agreements must be included to ensure that they do not contradict or undermine the goal of halting deforestation and degradation.

REDD financing should be additional to, and not a substitute for emission reductions under a climate agreement and must be via a transparent, reliable, additional to official development assistance, and accessible public-funded mechanism under the UNFCCC. Developed countries have a historical responsibility for climate change and must provide adequate financial resources to assist developing countries address the dangerous impacts of climate change. Benefits must reach indigenous peoples and local communities who are forest dependent peoples in an equitable, just, and fair manner.

In their call on the parties, the key messages the indigenous peoples presented in Bangkok further stressed that in the climate change discussions so far, their inalienable, collective rights over their lands, territories, and resources are not being recognized nor included in the discussions despite their ongoing submissions and lobbying. The full participation of indigenous peoples in the planning, design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of all measures are not being taken seriously into account by parties. The empowerment of indigenous peoples and local communities in their view is critical to the successful adaptation strategies to climate change.

Indigenous Peoples around the world are being directly affected by the devastating impacts of the climate change effects like floods, typhoons, cyclones, drought, king tides, sea level rise, etc. are real ongoing contemporary signs that are manifested in the disasters affecting the Philippines, Indonesia, India, Samoa, etc. during the September/October 2009 Bangkok meetings. Mother Earth is aching painfully and terribly as a result and is trying her best to balance herself back to some form of equilibrium by reacting in these ways. These are further reasons why indigenous peoples continue to demand the respect by everyone, especially the rich developed countries with the huge historical responsibilities for greenhouse gas emissions and immense ecological debt to developing countries and indigenous peoples for generations of exploitation of their natural resources including forests, for the rights of Mother Earth to be respected and protected.

Formed in 2000, the International Indigenous Peoples Forum on Climate Change (IIPFCC) has facilitated the presence of over 200 indigenous representatives from around the world to participate in and try to influence the Bangkok climate change talks as part of a concerted advocacy strategy leading up to Copenhagen.

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Indigenous Peoples and REDD-Plus
Special guest article from Fiu Mata’ese Elisara/Executive Director of OLSSI, Samoa

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FiuE

In the Bangkok UNFCCC meetings held from 28 September to 9 October 2009, REDD Plus was been trashed by many indigenous peoples as a process aimed at
Reaping profits; from
Evictions, land grabs;
Deforestation; and
Destruction of biodiversity;
Plusthe involvement of Industrial Plantations, GMO Trees and Protected Areas!

Despite the difficult process in these UNFCCC meetings, close to 200 Indigenous Peoples participants including a handful of Pacific representatives are still fighting for REDD processes to be rights based, as defined in UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and other international instruments and agreements regarding the human rights of indigenous peoples and local communities. The right to free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) is a precondition to any activity impacting on indigenous peoples and their lands and consultation is not a substitute for consent. The full and effective participation of indigenous peoples and local communities must be guaranteed throughout the entire REDD process which includes design, planning, implementation and monitoring.

Indigenous peoples say that any lasting reduction of emissions from deforestation and forest degradation is not possible without their full and effective participation and provision of secure tenure for them and forest-dependent local communities. The tenure rights of indigenous peoples and local communities must be recognized, ensured, protected and enhanced throughout REDD related processes and an any accessible, independent and transparent complaints mechanism providing timely redress for adverse impacts of REDD on indigenous peoples and their lands must be included in an international climate agreement.

Whilst Indigenous Peoples see the basic idea behind REDD as simple – that being developing countries that are willing and able to reduce emissions from deforestation should be financially compensated for doing so – REDD is still in their view a CO2lonialism of forests because it in fact allows the northern polluters to buy permits to continue to pollute the atmosphere through ‘carbon credits’ by promising not to cut down forests and plantations in the south where most of the lands and territories are owned by indigenous peoples and local communities.

In its policy proposal on climate change circulated in Bangkok the International Indigenous Peoples Forum on Climate Change (IIPFCC) quoted its Anchorage Declaration

“…that Mother Earth is no longer in a period of climate change, but in climate crisis….Indigenous peoples have a vital role in defending and healing Mother Earth. We uphold that the inherent rights of indigenous peoples…must be fully respected in all decision-making processes and activities related to climate change…” – Anchorage Declaration

With specific reference to indigenous peoples territories and REDD, the IIPFCC asserted that the global economic transition to sustainable, low carbon development will require revitalization of diverse local economies, including support for indigenous peoples’ self determined development. Economic planning combined with adaptive management to climate change will need to apply an ecosystem-based approach, and must fully respect the rights and interests of indigenous peoples and local communities.

Securing indigenous peoples’ rights to our ancestral lands, forests, waters and resources, provides the basis for sustainable local social, cultural, spiritual and economic development and some insurance against our vulnerability to the impacts of climate change. This is also beneficial towards improving ecosystem governance, ecosystem resilience and the delivery of ecosystem services.

Many forests are within the traditional lands and territories of indigenous peoples and IPs around the world live in and depend upon forests for their survival and to enjoy their fundamental rights to forests and land tenure. They are of cultural, social, economic and spiritual significance for IPs and provide benefits for humankind. Accordingly, the rights of IPs, including their land and resource rights, must be recognized and respected at al levels (local, national and international) before they can consider REDD initiatives and projects. The recognition of their rights must be in accordance with international human rights law and standards including the UNDRIP and ILO Convention 169, among other human rights instruments.

If there is no full recognition and full protection for IPs rights, including the rights to resources, lands and territories, and if there is no recognition and respect of the rights of free, prior and informed consent of the affected IPs, they will oppose REDD and REDD+ and carbon offsetting projects, including CDM projects. All decision-making processes on REDD and REDD+, clean development mechanism (CDM), land use and land use change and forests (LULUCF), agriculture forestry and other land use (AFOLU) as well as other ecosystem-based mitigation and adaptation measures and projects must be conditional to the FPIC of IPs.

IPs contend that their laws, regulations, and plans shall be recognized as authoritative and determinative as to the risks, values and benefits associated with measures to adapt to, or mitigate for, climate change effects within the territorial jurisdiction of tribal governing bodies. The IIPFCC affirm their global solidarity and unity to realize the enjoyment of their collective rights and the recognition of their vision, indigenous knowledge and their contribution to solving the climate change crisis for which REDD and REDD+ is one of the many false solutions promoted by the rich polluting countries in the UNFCCC and Kyoto Protocol processes and basis of their rejection of these proposed mitigation options.

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More than 100 stakeholders have been involved in a collaborative initiative facilitated by The Forests Dialogue (TFD) to build an effective international mechanism for tackling the climate, community and biodiversity issues associated with deforestation. The publication “Investing in REDD-plus” reflects unique consensus amongst forest stakeholders across business, environmental and scientific sectors and from indigenous peoples and forest-based communities, who met in a stream of intensive dialogues this year.

The report recommends that REDD-plus should be designed as a performance-based mechanism that achieves real CO2 emission reductions by reducing deforestation and degradation, and through conservation, sustainable forest management and the enhancement of carbon stocks. A phased approach will enable REDD-plus to address the drivers of deforestation according to country-specific circumstances. Each phase of REDD-plus should be funded through a portfolio of financial resources that make optimal and coordinated use of both markets and funds, as well as other sources of finance. Safeguards must guarantee equitable participation and distribution mechanisms for indigenous peoples and local communities as well as biodiversity conservation.

” REDD-plus projects must demonstrate: … Social integrity—by recognizing, protecting and respecting the rights of Indigenous Peoples and local communities and ensuring that they can develop their livelihoods and share the benefits of REDD-plus” – Extract from Investing in REDD-plus

Download Investing in REDD-plus: Consensus on frameworks for the financing and implementation of REDD-plus [pdf]…

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After being nominated and self-selected by civil society organizations (CSOs) worldwide, the CSO representatives to the UN-REDD Policy Board were announced to be: Pacifique Mukumba Isumbisho, Support Center for Indigenous Pygmies and Vulnerable Minorities; Effrey Dademo, the Papua New Guinea Eco-Forestry Forum; Paula Moreira, Amazon Environmental Research Institute; and Rosalind Reeve, Global Witness.

One full member seat and three observer seats on the Policy Board are reserved for representatives of civil society, and full member status will rotate among the group of CSO representatives at least once per year. The CSO representatives will, inter alia, participate in and provide input for Policy Board meetings and share and disseminate information among their networks and constituencies.

Read the UN-REDD press release…

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