Archive for November, 2009

Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples in Tropical Forests and REDD: how to share the benefits and avoid risks?

Special guest article from Erika Pinto, Paula Franco Moreira*, Ricardo Rettmann, Paulo Moutinho, Flavia Gabriela Oyo França and Osvaldo Stella Martins, Instituto de Pesquisa Amiental da Amazônia (IPAM). For further information, please contact Paula Moreira (paulamoreira[at]@ipam.org.br)



The proposal of the REDD mechanism under the UN Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) must be based on strategies focused on the maintenance of native forest areas in order to conserve natural resources and ensure the integrity of their ecological functions and the provision of multiple environmental services. One of the aspects related to the conservation of ecosystems, which should be recognized as crucial if we want to promote a significant impact in reducing pressure on forests, is the guarantee of participation of the indigenous and traditional people in the REDD mechanism. Moreover, these are also the people most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.

In fact, in the case of the Brazilian Amazon, any effort made to combat its high rates of deforestation requires the effective participation of indigenous peoples, traditional communities and rural communities of smallholder producers. Thus, REDD resources that can be accessed through projects under regional REDD Programs should reach these key stakeholders in order to strengthen their role in guaranteeing the conservation of the Amazon rainforest in large-scale. This position has been advocated by groups like the Brazilian Amazon Forest People Alliance (Aliança dos Povos da Floresta), which brings together indigenous peoples (Coordination of Indigenous Organizations of the Brazilian Amazon – COIAB), extractive and rubber tappers traditional population (National Council of Rubber Tappers – CNS) and a network of smallholders in the Brazilian Amazon (Amazon Working Group – GTA).

According to a study conducted by IPAM on the costs and benefits for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation in the Brazilian Amazon (2008) (note 1), a national REDD program in Brazil should designate between 55% to 74% funds specifically to these population, which in turn can benefit 150 thousand families of the forest people in the Brazilian Amazon in terms of improvement of their livelihood, enhancing their territories protection and restoring degraded areas.

In the context of smallholder producers (note 2), which represents 84.4% of Brazilian farms (Agricultural Census/2006), incentives from REDD resources could support actions to improve agriculture practices, reforestation with native species, promote sustainable forest management and reduce the pressure on new areas of standing forest. Such incentives could result in the consolidation of a new rural development model that reconciles conservation and improvement in quality of life of these smallholders. In this respect, the first REDD project involving Rural Communities of Smallholder Producers in State of Pará, Brazil, have the goal to promote effective change in the rural development model of smallholders into a more sustainable basis and recognize REDD as an important opportunity to make this economic transition possible. The bases of this project are shown below.

  • The Transamazônica Highway Case: First REDD Project of Rural Communities of Smallholder Producers Recognizing the importance of the contribution of forest people in mitigating the effects of climate change, IPAM, in partnership with the local organization, the Fundação Viver, Produzir e Preservar (Foundation for life, Environmental Protection and Food Production – FVPP), provided technical assistance to develop the first pilot project of REDD for smallholders living in areas of expansion of agricultural frontier in the Amazon.
    Figure 1

    Area of Influence of the REDD project involving Rural Communities of Smallholder Producers along the BR 230 (Transamazonica Highway), Pará State, Brazil.

    The project, submitted to the Amazon Fund (note 3), aims to stop deforestation in the productive areas of 350 families of smallholders through allowing the implementation of Familiar Production Units Using Plans, designed with the goal of replacing conventional land use practices (such as slash-and-burn activities and extensive pasture) by sustainable ones (agroforestry systems, adoption of techniques to increase the productivity in opened areas, fire management, etc). In 10 years, the project should reduce the emission of approximately 3.1 million tons of CO2. This projected reduction is equivalent to the emissions of about 1.2 billion liters of diesel, enough fuel to allow almost three thousand trips around the Earth by car. Also, reduction foreseen by the project is equivalent to 15% of total annual emissions of Costa Rica (note 4).
    The project is grounded on the investments of REDD resources in improvements in production and generation of economic alternatives, especially in best agricultural practices, and not only on the payment of environmental services directly to families. Therefore, it is expected that, at the end of a 10 years period, a new economic logic and a new model of rural development that does not require more clearing of forested areas will be consolidated in the region.

  • Valuing the role of forest people on reducing the deforestation in their areas through a REDD mechanismIn the same way that communities of smallholder producers are organizing themselves to be recognized as providers of environmental services, many indigenous groups from the Amazon region are also involved in this debate about REDD mechanisms and the sharing of the benefits. They seek for recognition for their historic effort in conserving standing forests and, therefore, the maintaining carbon stocks. Only in the Brazilian Amazon, 23,4% (equivalent to 13 billion tons of carbon or 27% of the total stock) of the remaining forests are located in indigenous territories (note 5).
  • Recommendation to REDD Negotiators for the climate conference at COP 15, Copenhagen The 15th Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC have the potential to set the guidelines for a new climate agreement in which, for the first time, the maintenance of forests and the reduction of deforestation will be encouraged through an official international mechanism. REDD must be a mechanism capable of generating resources to promote the maintenance of the standing forest, improvement of socioeconomic and environmental conditions of stakeholders, with emphasis on traditional communities, family farmers and indigenous peoples. Its implementation in tropical countries should be conducted with full participation of stakeholders to avoid perverse incentives and possible violations of their rights.For this purpose, it should be a condition for participation in any REDD policy or program that the Party implementing this mechanism recognizes and enforces the territorial rights of indigenous peoples, traditional and local communities, and to the evidence that their land tenure situation is legalized or in process of legalization. Therefore, we recommend that there is an UN body responsible for (i) verifying the fulfillment of these conditions in the country that intends to access the REDD resources; (ii) report if the REDD resources are reaching the communities at the local level.

If this participation and access of REDD resources by the local communities are not ensured, effect results in achieving reduction of deforestation will hardly take place in the necessary scale and maintained in the long term, considering that indigenous peoples, traditional and local communities, are responsible for maintaining nearly one third of the whole standing forest of the Brazilian Amazon.

(1) Costs and Benefits of Reducing Carbon Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) in the Brazilian Amazon.
(2) Specifically those groups recognized by developing activities based on familiar agriculture, which is characterized by: properties smaller than 100 ha, labor work exclusively from their family and household income generated by productive activities mainly related to the related property (Definition summarized as per Article 3 of Law No. 11,326 of July 24th, 2006)
(3) The Amazon Fund aims to raise donations for non-reimbursable investments in actions to prevent, monitor and combat deforestation and to promote the conservation and sustainable use of forests in the Amazon.
(4) Climate Analysis Indicators Tool (CAIT) Version 6.0. (Washington, DC: World Resources Institute, 2009).
(5) Reduction of Carbon Emissions Associated with Deforestation in Brazil: The Role of the Amazon Region Protected Areas Program (ARPA).

*Paula Franco Moreira is a lawyer with a Masters degree of International Socio-Environmental Law from the London School of Economics. She coordinates the area of inclusion and empowerment of indigenous peoples and traditional communities in the process of defining public policies on global climate change at the Amazon Environmental Research Institute (IPAM) and is a representative of the Latin American and Caribbean civil society at the UN-REDD Programme’s Policy Board. Read more…


Read Full Post »

CARE International and the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Alliance (CCBA) will present their draft REDD + Social and Environmental Standards (REDD + SE) at a side event during COP-15 hosted by the government of Nepal. REDD + SE aims to help governments institute equitable REDD programs on a national level. The joint CARE/CCBA initiative has also been consulting with a few national governments on testing the standards on a national scale and aims to finalize the new standards in March, 2010.

This initiative is developing standards that can be used by governments, NGOs, financing agencies and other stakeholders to design and implement REDD and other forest carbon programs that respect the rights of Indigenous Peoples and local communities and generate significant social and biodiversity co-benefits. These standards will be designed to work for the new global REDD+ regime expected to emerge out of ongoing UNFCCC negotiations, that is for government-led programs implemented at national or state/provincial/regional level and for all forms of fund-based or market-based financing. The standards will consist of principles, criteria and indicators that define the issues of concern and the
required levels of social and environmental performance.

Draft Principles:

  1. Rights to land, territories and resources are recognized and respected.
  2. The benefits of the REDD+ program are shared equitably among all stakeholders and
    rights holders.
  3. The REDD+ program contributes to sustainable livelihoods and poverty alleviation for
    forest-dependent peoples.
  4. The REDD+ program contributes to broader sustainable development and good
    governance objectives.
  5. Biodiversity and ecosystem services are maintained and enhanced.
  6. All relevant stakeholders and rights holders are able to participate fully and effectively in
    the REDD+ program.
  7. All stakeholders and rights holders have timely access to appropriate and accurate
    information to enable good governance of the REDD+ program.
  8. The REDD+ program complies with applicable local22 and national laws and international
    treaties and agreements.

Download the draft REDD + Social and Environmental Standards [pdf]…

Read Full Post »

German Development Cooperation (GTZ) and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Secretariat has launched a new guide on Biodiversity and Livelihoods: REDD Benefits.

This brochure provides a wide array of tools and examples on how measures and policies can be shaped to simultaneously address climate change, biodiversity loss and poverty. It provides a basic introduction to biodiversity and livelihoods aspects, including identifying opportunities for synergies and mutual enhancement of the objectives of international agreements, and background information on the linkages between ecosystem-based adaptation and mitigation measures.

The brochure also describes concrete measures to achieve long-term success and the multiple benefits of mitigation and adaptation measures. These include participatory approaches and pro-poor policies, improving the adaptation capacity of forests to climate changes, maintaining species migration routes, and avoiding self-enforcing negative impacts of climate change.

“Forest ecosystems that have the ability to adapt to climate change can provide for the livelihoods of forest-dependent people and communities who are partners in safeguarding forests and supporting the mitigation of climate change. To sustain this partnership, these people should actively participate in decision-making, and financial compensation for their efforts is needed.” – Extract from the Good Practice Guide

Chapter 5 specifically focuses on indigenous and local communities as partners and beneficiaries of REDD efforts.

Download Biodiversity and Livelihoods: REDD Benefits [pdf]….

Read Full Post »

International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) have launched a new Good Practice Guide on Sustainable Forest Management: Biodiversity and Livelihoods. This booklet is part of a series of Good Practice Guides produced by the CBD. It provides a range of case studies and other materials to make the forest sector more biodiversity-friendly, and socially beneficial. It addresses the linkages between forestry, biodiversity, and development / poverty reduction. The summaries and examples included in this booklet show how biodiversity and sustainable economic development can go hand in hand. The primary target audiences for the guide are government officers and decision-makers in the various government agencies related to forestry (at global, regional, national and local levels), as well as development practitioners. A CD-ROM is also available.

Chapter II.c of the guide focuses specifically on the role of indigenous and local communities. Indigenous case studies include one from the Congo (on the use of GPS and community radio by Pygmy communities to protect cultural sites) and Malaysia (on biodiversity in production forests).

“Recent developments for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) have the potential to provide benefits to local and indigenous communities. However, a number of conditions would need to be met for these co-benefits to be achieved. Indigenous peoples are unlikely to benefit from REDD where they have no secure land tenure; if there is no principle of free, prior and informed consent concerning the use of their lands and resources; and if their identities are not recognized or they have no space to participate in policy-making processes and/or lack the capacity to engage on an equal footing.” – Extract from Sustainable Forest Management: Biodiversity and Livelihoods

Download the Good Practice Guide on Sustainable Forest Management: Biodiversity and Livelihoods [pdf]…

Read Full Post »

Carbon Trading – How it Works and Why It Fails, Tamra Gilbertson and Oscar Reyes, Critical Currents no. 7, November 2009

Carbon Trade Watch has released a new publication by Tamra Gilbertson and Oscar Reyes that outlines the limitations of an approach to tackling climate change which redefines the problem to fit the assumptions of neoliberal economics. It demonstrates that the EU Emissions Trading Scheme, the world’s largest carbon market, has consistently failed to ‘cap’ emissions, while the UN’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) routinely favours environmentally ineffective and socially unjust projects. This is illustrated with case studies of CDM projects in Brazil, Indonesia, India and Thailand where the publication argues that off-sets projects, even those that promote renewable energy, will not be a solution to climate change.

Chapter 4 examines REDD and Indigenous Peoples. Solutions proposed in Chapter 5 include measures to secure land tenure for Indigenous Peoples’ and forest-dependent communities.

“…Simplistic schemes to grow money on trees represent a significant setback for the complex work of protecting forests through defending the territorial and other rights of Indigenous Peoples and forest communities – who have currently and historically done the most to protect forest ecosystems.” – Extract from Carbon Trading – How it Works and Why it Fails

Download Carbon Trading – How it Works and Why It Fails[pdf]…

Read Full Post »

BioCultural Community Protocols: A Community Approach to Ensuring the Integrity of Environmental Law and Policy
Kabir Bavikatte & Harry Jonas (Eds.), Natural Justice and UNEP, November 2009.

This book illustrates the application of bio-cultural community protocols to a range of environmental legal frameworks. Part I focuses on the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and access and benefit-sharing. Part II looks at other frameworks to which bio-cultural protocols can be applied by indigenous and local communities, including REDD, the CBD programme of work on protected areas and payment for ecosystem services schemes. Part III looks more broadly at the meaning of bio-cultural protocols for environmental law.

Chapter 4 examines the promise that REDD holds for saving the world’s forests and the risks that it could present if designed and administered inappropriately. The authors also give an overview of how bio-cultural community protocols (BCPs) can play a role in reducing these risks and maintaining the local integrity of this international instrument. It includes an outline of a sample REDD Bio-Community Protocol.

“The use of community-based approaches to REDD such as [Bio-Community Protocols] could help ensure the local integrity of international efforts to save forests from degradation that contributes to climate change by rewarding ILCs for conserving their forests without excluding activities that they people rely upon for their livelihoods and bio-cultural ways of life.” – Extract from Bio-Cultural Community Protocols: A Community Approach to Ensuring the Integrity of Environmental Law and Policy

According to the authors, the development of bio-cultural protocols is one way in which communities can increase their capacity to drive the local implementation of international and national environmental laws. Such a protocol is developed after a community undertakes a consultative process to outline their core ecological, cultural and spiritual values and customary laws relating to their TK and resources, based on which they provide clear terms and conditions to regulate access to their knowledge and resources.

Download BioCultural Community Protocols: A Community Approach to Ensuring the Integrity of Environmental Law and Policy [pdf]…
Visit the Bio-Community Protocol case studies website…

Read Full Post »

Indigenous African leaders from East and Central Africa met in Bujumbura, Burundi to finalise a joint strategy and statement on climate change at a meeting funded by the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation EU-ACP (CTA), as part of a five year programme to strengthen the Indigenous Peoples of Africa Coordinating Committee (IPACC) indigenous network on the African continent.

Leaders from forest based communities in Gabon, Cameroon, DR Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda and Kenya participated in a joint UNIPROBA-IPACC policy meeting to set out their concerns, priorities, action plan and statement ahead of the 15th Conference of Parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, due to take place in Copenhagen Denmark.

Leaders emphasised that indigenous peoples are important stakeholders in climate stabilisation in Africa. All indigenous peoples are being hard hit by droughts and flooding in Africa, and they must educate their communities as to the causes and engage with national governments about equitable and sustainable responses.

”Currently, there are indigenous leaders who know more about REDD than people in government. REDD and carbon financing is new for all of us in Africa. The civil society and governments need to work closely on setting up a viable framework for benefit sharing from carbon financing. This is an opportunity for indigenous peoples. Governments need to understand also that REDD is closely linked to land rights and tenure security. Very few indigenous peoples currently have secure land rights, and that needs to be resolved in REDD is to work.” – Kanyinke Sena, an Ogiek activist from Kenya

Read the meeting summary…

Read Full Post »