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Indigenous Peoples Pushed for MRV Engagement In REDD and REDD+ as Rights Holders in COP15

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

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The Indigenous Peoples Forum on Climate Change (IIPFCC) constantly monitored the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen (COP15) negotiations. It continued to provide proposals and contributions as its members wanted COP15 to decide on a political framework to respect the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities (ILCs) and to enable their full and effective participation in climate mitigation and adaptation, including through REDD+.

The IIPFC suggested language on how the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) can contribute to make REDD+ monitoring anchored on a strong indigenous peoples’ rights framework, while ensuring that indigenous peoples’ traditional knowledge is integrated in methodologies for monitoring and reporting. It welcomed SBSTA’s recognition of the need to ensure full and effective engagement of indigenous peoples in Monitoring Reporting and Verification (MRV), but as rights-holders, any engagement in REDD+ must be conditional on the full implementation of their rights as recognized in applicable international standards and obligations, such as the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), to their free, prior informed consent (FPIC) and to their full and effective participation at all stages and in developing and presenting their own parallel reports on REDD+ and forest developments on the ground.

The IIPFCC reiterated that forests are more than carbon to indigenous peoples and local communities, important for resilient ecosystems, livelihoods and human well-being and the scope of MRVs must include respect for human rights, secure land tenure, clarification of carbon rights and fully capture multiple forest values. The indigenous peoples argue that they can provide methodologies based on their traditional knowledge, consistent with their conservation of forests, enhancement of biodiversity and their cultural and spiritual values and that SBSTA organized an expert workshop that secures the full representation of ILCs, chosen by them, to address methods, measures, criteria and indicators to assess the social, environmental, economic and cultural implications of REDD+ actions. The IIPFCC believes that such an activity will build their combined capacities to apply traditional knowledge and climate science to ensure robust methodologies for participatory REDD+ monitoring and reporting.

This call was fully supported by the Accra Caucus on Forests and Climate Change in their response to draft text on SBSTA 30 Agenda item 5 on REDD text for a decision on methodological guidance for activities relating to REDD and REDD+, recognizing the need for full and effective participation of ILCs and the contribution of their knowledge in all stages of monitoring and reporting of activities and associated safeguards and subject to their FPIC. Also recognizing the importance of promoting sustainable management of forests and co-benefits, including biodiversity, that may complement the aims and objectives of national forest programmes and relevant international conventions and agreements.

Both the ILCs and the Accra Caucus request all the parties to identify drivers and activities which result in increased deforestation and degradation in developing countries, and enact policies and measures to address these using the most recently adopted Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) guidance and guidelines as a basis for estimating anthropogenic forest-related greenhouse gas emissions by sources and removals by sinks, forest carbon stocks and forest area changes.

They also requested that independent monitoring, reporting and verification be carried out on the impacts of policies, measures and processes undertaken on the rights of ILCs, biodiversity, and other social and environmental safeguards and that further work may be needed by the IPCC, in accordance with any relevant decisions by the Conference of the Parties, to provide supplemental guidance on the application of methodologies for estimating anthropogenic forest-related greenhouse gas emissions by sources and removals by sinks, forest carbon stocks and forest area changes.

The SBSTA was requested to collaborate with relevant stakeholders to use appropriate guidelines for effective participation of ILCs in MRVs and that all Parties support and strengthen developing countries’ capacities to collect and access, analyse and interpret data, in order to develop accurate estimates, recognizing that developing countries, when establishing methodologies to establish national reference emission and reference levels should take into account national circumstances, respective national capabilities and capacities, historical data, relevant socio-economic factors, drivers of deforestation, and existing domestic legislation, policies and measures and this data should be independently reviewed and submitted to the COP.

Requests were also made to set up a distinct and separate complaints mechanism which is accessible by all stakeholders and which is independent, transparent and consistent with all other relevant Human Rights instruments including the UNDRIP and urges relevant international organizations, non-governmental organizations and all stakeholders to integrate and coordinate their efforts in order to avoid duplication and enhance synergy with regard these activities.

In the light of the above, the SBSTA was asked to consider the application of a correction factor to reflect national circumstances, historically low deforestation and forest degradation, developmental divergence, and respective capabilities and capacities, resolution of terms such as forest, conservation and sustainable management of forests, developing country Parties that are requesting support shall follow the guidance decided by the COP and adopt how to address international leakage if applying sub-national approaches for demonstration activities and the development of guidance in monitoring and reporting with the full effective engagement of indigenous people and local communities.

As a rationale for this, national circumstances can be addressed by ways other than applying a correction factor, such as fund based payments for countries with historically low deforestation levels protecting intact natural forests, which don’t rely on artificially creating an appearance of changes in carbon stocks. It is crucial that leakage issues are not constrained to the domestic level. Domestic leakage is alleged to be relatively easy to address through the application of national baselines, but international leakage is the real threat to REDD in terms of addressing forest loss or deforestation, and considerations of international leakage must be part of any international REDD agreement.

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

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