negotiators have finished their work last month in Warsaw with minor agreements
but no breakthroughs on an agreement that would avert catastrophic climate
of the areas of greatest consensus in Warsaw was the
agreement reached on the United Nations Reduced Emissions from
Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) program, aiming to quantify the
environmental value of forests, giving forest nations cash credit for
preserving the ecosystems that help keep carbon out of the atmosphere.
percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. While forests are obviously
vital for a healthy planet, REDD+ may be no more than a hollow solution to
deforestation. It also presents a threat to the indigenous forest communities that
make up part of IPCCA.
2011, IPCCA members issued a declaration
in opposition to REDD+ and the livelihood threats that its implementation would
cause in indigenous communities.
doesn’t adequately respect the indigenous communities who live and manage the
forestland REDD+ is designed to protect. “REDD+ locks up forests, blocking
access and customary use of Indigenous Peoples and local communities to their
forests,” IPCCA members stated.
by providing cash credit for preserved forests, it’s likely that REDD+ will
sharply increase their market value, amplifying the vulnerability of indigenous
communities to land speculators.
the negotiation process, there has been some acknowledgement of these concerns.
The result is a proposal for “safeguards,” regulations to prevent the harms associated
with REDD+ while maintaining its emissions-reduction potential. These rules
include protections for indigenous peoples and local communities, safeguards
for biodiversity and improvements in governance.
agreement on REDD+ in Warsaw states that nations must report on how they are
meeting safeguards, but doesn’t elaborate on how the reporting will take place.
IPCCA argues that such rules will not protect indigenous communities.
Governments will ensure that the safeguards simply appear to be followed. As Simone Lovera of the Global Forest Coalition
are more or less free to provide any kind of information according to any kind
of system they want, with only some vague principles and a rather non-sensical
verification system to guide them.”
were there any real advances in Warsaw on the non-carbon benefits of forests.
Civil society has grown more aware of their importance, but negotiations are
still focused on monetizing non-carbon benefits for their incorporation into
problems for REDD+ might be even more fundamental, though. Forest conservation
is desirable, but not if it’s just an excuse to pollute more elsewhere. According
to the declaration: “The drivers of forest loss and forestland grabbing will
not be addressed by REDD+. Governments that are elaborating REDD+ policies are
also promoting economic sectors such as cattle ranching, bio-energy, mining,
oil exploration and agro-industrial monocultures that, ironically, are the main
drivers of forest loss.”
is a market-based approach through which outside actors try to commodify what
is sacred to Indigenous peoples,” the declaration stated. Instead, the global
climate regime could stand to learn a thing or two from the non-market
approaches of indigenous peoples, who have been effective environmental
stewards for centuries. Protecting indigenous territory has been shown to be an
effective forest conservation method in itself. IPCCA representatives will
continue to educate both parties and observers on the benefits of traditional
knowledge and local governance for reducing deforestation and forest
degradation when IPCCA members return to negotiations next
year in Lima.