Archive for December, 2009

REDD is CO2lonialism of Forests

Special guest article from Fiu Mata’ese Elisara*/Executive Director of OLSSI, Samoa



The Australian newspaper (The Australian – The rush is on for sky money) calls REDD a ‘classic 21st century scam emerging from the global climate industry. The inclusion of forests in the carbon market raises a crucial property rights issue in that REDD will inevitably commodities and privatize the air which we breathe and forests which are homes for millions of indigenous peoples around the world’.

According to the World Bank report on REDD titled “Poster Child would Reward Forest Destroyers” it is evident that carbon traders require legal title to the carbon in the forests or rights to the land. REDD projects that utilize carbon market financing could compensate the culprits by generating profits for the loggers, polluters and forest destroyers. They will reduce forests to merely carbon sequestration experiments and for the benefit of large scale profit seekers and business investments from rich countries.

According to the Indigenous Environment Network publication on REDD – (R) Reaping profits; from (E) Evictions, land grabs; (D) Deforestation; and (D) Destruction of biodiversity, hundreds of REDD-type projects already exist on the voluntary carbon market without any clear and agreed upon framework that ensures the protection and respect for the rights of indigenous peoples to their lands and forests, respect for their indigenous and customary land tenure systems, as well as enhancement of their diverse traditional good governance practices. Many have resulted in militarization, evictions, fraud, disputes, conflicts, corruption, coercion, crime, mono culture plantations, and 30 to 100 years contracts and deals signed and agreed between Indigenous Peoples and climate criminals such as oil companies.

Most of the world’s forests are on Indigenous Peoples’ lands and according to FAO, 2008, some 1.6 billion people rely on forests which include some 60 million indigenous peoples who are entirely dependent on forests for their livelihoods, food, medicines, building materials, and existence. Unfortunately these peoples have been severely impacted both by the loss of forests cleared largely to grow crops and agro-fuel plantations for exports, to clean development mechanism (CDM) projects on reforestation and afforestation. For Indigenous Peoples who are often with no formal titles to ownership of their lands, many are already faced with being forcibly removed and evicted, sometimes violently, from their ancestral homes and community territories. The real concern here is the increasingly likelihood of Indigenous Peoples facing even more violation of their rights from the wrath of their own governments and companies that they engage in carbon markets business with, when the value increase in existing standing forests as carbon trading stocks in Indigenous Peoples lands and territories.

It is therefore the strong view of many Indigenous Peoples that the implementation of REDD projects in their lands and territories are extremely risky and should be rejected until there is guarantee that REDD projects will fully recognize the principles in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), respect the principle of free prior and informed consent, respect for their land tenure, protect their customary and territorial rights, and to ensure that the inevitable increase in the value of environmental services provided by their forests and ecosystems do not lead to these being forcibly taken away from them.

Furthermore, the commodification of forest carbon in REDD market-based trading is inherently inequitable and unfair since it compensate the culprit logging companies and related business interests as root cause of climate change but discriminate against Indigenous Peoples who have conserved forests all their lives. The ongoing rejection of REDD and REDD plus projects by Indigenous Peoples in their forests, lands and territories based on these continuing acts of injustices are therefore more than justified and need unconditional support.

Copenhagen is already shaping up to be a huge disappointment on the issue of REDD in the assessment of the International Indigenous Peoples Forum on Climate Change (IIPFCC), let alone Mother Earth. In Barcelona, Indigenous Peoples were profoundly disappointed at the lack of political will by parties to heed the call by IIPFCC that No Rights, No REDD and the refusal by many parties to make explicit mention of UNDRIP. But work continues to lobby support to accept language regarding the recognition of the rights of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities in the final outcome, and whilst there seems to be difficulty in reaching agreement on the principle of free prior and informed consent (FPIC), there is also ongoing lobby to find support for full and effective participation of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities. It remains to be seen in the final outcome of Copenhagen given its projected possible 6 to 8 pages political declaration if the efforts of the IIPFCC will have not been wasted.

* Fiu Mata’ese Elisara is the Director of Ole Siosiomaga Society (OLSSI) in Samoa. Read more…


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