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]…


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…

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…

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…

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…

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.

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.