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The Copenhagen Disaccord: The Copenhagen Accord leaves room for doubt, disappointment… and little hope.

Special guest article from Paula Moreira*, Instituto de Pesquisa Amiental da Amazônia (IPAM). For further information, please contact Paula Moreira (paulamoreira[at]@ipam.org.br)


On 19 December, 2009, the Copenhagen Conference of the Parties (COP-15) closed, leaving much doubt as to the validity of the “Copenhagen Accord”, and what the next steps should be for governments to minimize the effects of global warming. The result of COP-15 was merely a political declaration which Heads of State called the Copenhagen Accord.

There is no question that this accord contains several problems. It is not legally-binding and the manner in which the accord was reached was unfair. The Accord was not reached in the UN Plenary, or through its working groups officially established under the Bali Action Plan. (Decision 1/COP.13). Instead, this supposedly global accord was drawn up behind closed doors by just a few Heads of State, thus making it politically impossible to secure its approval in Plenary by all the countries. So, a political accord was reached by 25 countries, out of the total 192 members of the United Nations. Finally, the accord does not set targets for reduction of greenhouse gases for developed countries nor mitigation actions for developing countries.

Despite all of these criticisms, it is worth emphasizing that there were some positive aspects included in the documents which, although a mere political declaration, can be used to build a legitimate and legal binding agreement which must be drawn up in the coming months. Firstly, the Copenhagen Accord was proposed by a group of countries which, for the first time, included the United States. Participation of the US represents an important step in the right direction for climate change mitigation. The declaration also recognizes the scientific view that the rise in global temperature should be less than two degrees centigrade to avoid human interference with the climate.

“Declaration” of Copenhagen’s Highlights

  • Financing
    With respect to financing, developed countries committed US$30 billion in additional resources during the period 2010-2012, specifically to help developing countries who are most vulnerable to the effects of climate change. In the context of meaningful and transparent mitigation actions, the developed countries committed to jointly mobilizing US$100 billion per year up to 2020. These resources will be used to help to address the needs of developing countries. The funding would come from public, private, bilateral and multilateral sources including alternative sources of finance. The Copenhagen Green Climate Fund– part of the Copenhagen Accord—would be the financial entity of the United Nations Convention on Climate Change that will support projects, programmes, policies and other activities in developing countries, including REDD+, adaptation, capacity-building, technology development and transfer.
  • Emissions
    Detailed emissions plans are set out in two annexes to the Copenhagen Accord; one shows targets for the developed world and the other lays out voluntary actions in developing countries. However, given that China has refused to allow international verification of its efforts, the Declaration provides no possibility of monitoring voluntary actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions taken by developing countries. The requirements of the plans in the annexes have not been fulfilled with the corresponding numbers related to countries’ targets and actions.
  • Forests
    The Copenhagen Accord recognizes the importance of reducing emissions caused by deforestation or forest degradation, and accepts the need to provide incentives to finance such actions using resources from the developed world.

Brazil’s potential leadership

Despite the disappointment and legal ambiguity concerning the effectiveness of the accord, Brazil should be commended for announcing a pledge of US$5 billion to help the most vulnerable countries in the world adapt to climate change. As highlighted by our Senate Marina Silva, by taking this symbolic gesture, developing countries are capable to embarrass rich countries and put them in an uncomfortable position, unblocking the negotiation. Furthermore, the target of reduction of emissions announced by Brazil in Copenhagen (36,1% – 38,9% of 2005 emission levels until 2020) became law though the Presidential Approval of the Climate Change National Policy on 29th December, 2009 showing the world that the country’s position tabled in Copenhagen was really a compromise.

The next steps

The President of the COP announced that the next climate change conference would be in Mexico, in November-December 2010. Nevertheless, many NGOs are urging countries to work for a strong agreement with political legitimacy in the next six months.

What is left, for the moment, is a mixture of feelings. A huge frustration of having spent a great deal of money and time to see this horror show of COP 15, not least the abysmal organization which left participants queuing for hours in the snow, without achieving a satisfactory outcome to the COP.

On the other side, the sole feeling of hope that Countries manage to transform the Copenhagen Declaration into a UNFCCC legal binding agreement in the next 6 months, with the fulfilled annexes of numbers of mitigation targets by developed nations and actions by developing countries, in particularly encouraged by the voluntary actions by developing countries such as the Brazilian example mentioned above.

Please, distinguished delegates, we call for action and not more disappointment in the next 6 months. Otherwise many of us, UNFCCC observers and climate campaigners, will be obliged to focus our work and energy on specific mitigation actions at regional and local level, giving up on the United Nations Climate Convention (UNFCCC) processes, in order to avoid more climate catastrophes that are already in place. We don’t have more time. We need action.

*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…


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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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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…

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



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



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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Pacific Comments on REDD
Special guest article from Fiu Mata’ese Elisara/Executive Director of OLSSI, Samoa




Some 15 participants from Tonga, PNG, Solomon, Vanuatu, Kiribati, Cooks, Samoa, NZ and Australia attended a Pacific workshop on REDD held in Nukualofa USP Centre, Tonga, from 29 to 31 July 2009. Representing indigenous peoples, civil society, and governments, they also discussed related issues such as climate change, forest protection, and role of indigenous peoples and local communities that severely impact our region on a daily basis.

Specific concerns of indigenous peoples raised in the meeting included their rights in line with United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), particularly their rights to free, prior and informed consent, sovereign right to self-determination and rights to lands, territories, environment and natural resources that needed to be upheld and respected.

Participants were deeply alarmed by the accelerating climate devastation brought about by unsustainable development, and experiencing profound and disproportionate adverse impacts on Pacific cultures, human and environmental health, human rights, well-being, traditional livelihoods, food systems and food sovereignty, local infrastructure, economic viability and their very survival as indigenous peoples.

The meeting called consumer nations to adequately address the issue of ecological debt to the global south and not shift liability for their own unsustainable production and consumption to those nations, like the counties in the Pacific, not responsible for the high level of climate emissions.

There was also concern about insufficient capacity building on forests and climate change discussions and negotiations in the communities, the lack of adequate resourcing, funding and representation of indigenous communities at international climate discussions and negotiations, and the failure of governments to adequately and accurately represent the views of indigenous and forest-dependent communities in the region.

The meeting wished to remind governments that Pacific peoples and especially indigenous peoples are on the front line of climate change, whether they are from ‘developed’ nations or not, and do not automatically have access to the benefits of a developed economy.

Call for Action

The meeting, by way of its Tonga Declaration, stated its concern that in its current form REDD is misleading and is a false solution to climate change. It erodes indigenous land rights and fails to account for the long term and ongoing conservation and land management of forested areas by Pacific countries, indigenous peoples, and forest dependent communities. Participants called for all nations in the Pacific to sign on to the UNDRIP and for any agreement on forests to fully and explicitly uphold the rights under UNDRIP, the Convention on Biodiversity (CBD), and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). All rights under UNDRIP must be included into the CBD and UNFCCC, and the customary and territorial land rights of Indigenous Peoples and forest-dependent communities must be recognised and enforced by any international agreement on forest policy.

The meeting called for the suspension of all REDD initiatives in indigenous lands and territories until such a time as Indigenous peoples’ rights are fully recognised and promoted, and community consent has been obtained. The linkage of REDD to markets risks allowing Annex-1 countries to avoid responsibility for reducing emissions in their own countries and could even increase net carbon emissions. Carbon offsetting and the inclusion of REDD credits in carbon markets will do nothing to address the underlying causes of climate change, nor will carbon offsetting and market mechanisms provide the predictable and reliable funding required for addressing deforestation.

Participants demanded that forests not be included in carbon trading schemes, and call on all governments to halt deforestation and keep fossil fuels in the ground; not trade one for the other. Forests need to be protected, but they must be protected by strengthening and enforcing forest legislation, not using market mechanisms.

The meeting supported the call for binding emissions reductions targets for Annex 1 countries of at least 45% below 1990 levels by 2020, and at least 95% by 2050 and other elements of the AOSIS positions. Annex 1 countries must therefore deliver on their commitments to making real and effective emission reductions.

Participants were alarmed that some international climate and forest agreements were not legally binding and that there was a disconnection between these international negotiations and inadequate national greenhouse targets and obligations.

It called for real and genuine solutions to climate change, not false solutions like ocean fertilisation, REDD, bio-fuels and monocultures for plantations that erode and violate the rights of Indigenous peoples and forest-dependant communities, and destroy biodiversity.

Participants objected to the current definition of forests under the CBD, UNFCCC and the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) and demanded that any definition of forests must strongly differentiate between plantations and natural forests to incorporate fundamental indigenous understandings of forests and account for the vast differences in carbon storage capacity.

Whilst the participants supported the positions of the Pacific Council of Churches (PCC) and Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) on adaptation responses and emission targets, they nevertheless recognised the non-negotiable positions of some small island nations and their sovereign rights to continue to exist as countries and to fight climate change to the end.

Participants were also gravely concerned about inaccurate carbon accounting, and the vast amounts of money allocated by donor nations for the protection of forests through flawed solutions to climate change, including REDD and called for accurate carbon accounting on forests, and for any funding for REDD, appropriate technology transfer must be prioritised for community based forest management schemes, managed through strengthened mechanisms within the UNFCCC that include impacted communities and in accordance with Indigenous rights under UNDRIP. Donor nations should not fund international financial institutions, like the World Bank to implement projects that support flawed solutions to climate change.

The workshop thanked the Kingdom of Tonga and the University of the South Pacific (USP) in Tonga for their hospitality, and expressed their gratitude to the Global Forest Coalition and the Government of the Netherlands for their coordination and funding of the workshop.

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The Tuvalu Position on REDD deserves strong AOSIS, Pacific, and Indigenous Peoples’ support in the outcome of COP15 of the UNFCCC in Copenhagen
Special guest article from Fiu Mata’ese Elisara/Executive Director of OLSSI – Samoa

The Different Proposals on REDD in the UNFCCC: REDD proposals will lead to forest protection only if the needs and rights of local communities are being effectively addressed. Unfortunately with the exception of the proposals by Tuvalu and Norway, most do not sufficiently respect local peoples’ rights. With assessments also from FERN and Forest Peoples Program (FPP), the following are pertinent comments relevant to this call for support for the Tuvalu and Norway positions on REDD.

Forest Retention Scheme: Tuvalu has proposed a Forest Retention Scheme to provide incentives to communities for protecting and retaining forests. There are three components to this scheme, which include a Community Forest Retention Trust Account; Forest Retention Certificates and an International Forest Retention Fund to provide funding for communities to set aside forest areas or to manage them in a sustainable manner. Communities could draw on a prescribed percentage of their own trust account, to establish measures to combat and reduce deforestation and degradation.

Community Forest Retention Trust Accounts (CFRT Account) : Communities that wish to establish projects to conserve forest areas or manage them on a sustainable basis would seek funding to establish a CFRT Account. Communities could draw on a prescribed percentage of this account to establish measures to combat emissions from deforestation and forest degradation. The remaining amount would be set aside in the CFRT Account. A community could then draw upon the interest from the Account on an annual basis, based on the concept of being paid an annual ‘rent for environmental services’.

Forest Retention Certificates: Once the CFRT Account is established, communities could apply for Forest Retention Certificates which are based on an estimate of the amount of GHG reduced by the project (based on current emission trends compared with potential actions to reduce these emission trends). At the end of a prescribed period (five years) certificates equivalent to a determined amount of CO2 avoided would be issued by national governments, which would need to report annually to the COP. A committee would be established under the COP to ensure that there was not an over-issuance of these certificates. At the end of a prescribed period of time (possibly ten years), the area of forest originally set aside or sustainably managed by the community would be independently assessed. An independent auditor would also assess whether the CFRT account was still in operation. If the project and the account are verified, communities could redeem a prescribed percentage of their Certificates. This process would be repeated every ten years.

International Forest Retention Fund: Funding for the redemption of these Certificates would come from a proposed International Forest Retention Fund established under the Convention. Tuvalu has suggested a levy on inter-national aviation and bunker fuels to finance this fund, which could raise in the region of US$24 billion annually. Redemption of the Certificates would be granted ex-post, although communities have had access to interest from the initial CFRT Account. Communities could deposit these redeemed Certificates into their CFRT Account or use the money as the community sees fit. Procedures for assessment and auditing would be kept as simple as possible to minimize transaction costs. The Certificates could only be redeemed to the International Forest Retention Fund. The fundamental component of this scheme is founded on the principle that the certificates cannot be sold, transferred or traded.

Tuvalu does not support forest carbon trading, largely because leakage will inevitably occur so long as the demand for global commodities continues to put pressure on forests. Tuvalu has recently proposed addressing international leakage through demand-side measures. This would mean that importing countries would have to ensure that forest product imports are derived from sustainably managed forest. Ian Fry suggests creating carbon deficit levies (CDLs) for importing countries. Annex I parties would then accumulate CDLs for importing forest products resulting from deforestation activities in developing countries. These would appear as emissions in national GHG inventories and so would in effect be the opposite of certified emissions reductions (CERs), whereby countries would be adding emission increases to their assigned amount.

Norway: Substantial, predictable, results-based and long-term financial flows to developing countries are required for a post-2012 REDD mechanism – and establishing such flows should be the focus of the mechanism, as it is these flows that make REDD different from past forest protection schemes. Therefore a robust, effective and sustainable system for mobilizing financial resources, and a credible results-based mechanism to distribute them, should be the corner-stone of a future REDD mechanism. Biodiversity should be protected through careful policy design, and any regime should ensure the involvement of indigenous peoples and local communities, who should be involved in the construction of mechanisms that compensate them for the forest protection they promote.

The proposal advocates a combination of fund- and market-based mechanisms. Markets are needed to mobilize the private sector, although they are less effective for countries with low rates of deforestation, and less relevant for capacity-building activities. REDD must be additional to deep emissions cuts from Annex 1 countries – so a market-based mechanism will require collective emissions cuts from developed countries of more than 25% – 40%. If a fund-based mechanism is used, it is essential that adequate finances are raised (relying on development aid type donations will not be acceptable). To this end Norway has proposed a system for the auctioning of allowances as a potential source of REDD funding.

The focus should primarily be on REDD, but incentives also need to account for conservation, sustainable forest management, and enhanced carbon stocks to provide incentives for countries with historically low deforestation rates, or those who have stopped deforesting. A broad scope including all forest activities will reduce the risk of leakage. An independent monitoring system will be required (of emission reductions and reference levels) to ensure credibility.

Reference levels in principle should be based on historical emissions data, but due to the lack of incentives that this principle would provide for countries with historically low rates of deforestation, Norway is open to other approaches for setting reference levels. A national approach, eventually leading to monitoring of all forests in the country, is needed to account for intra-national leakage. International leakage must be addressed. In the early stages, when fewer countries are participating, approaches to address international leakage need to be explored, although Norway has no specific suggestions in this proposal.

The proposal also suggests that there should be close coordination and integration of preparations made through the United Nations REDD Initiative, the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility and other initiatives: not as a substitute for REDD under the UNFCCC, but to stimulate early action and capacity building.

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