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Forest Peoples Programme April e-Newsletter
The continuous, sometimes subtle, violence of conservation and development against indigenous peoples continues, unchecked even at the highest levels by the most worthy-sounding agencies of the United Nations.
As this newsletter reports, the Global Environment Facility, the international mechanism of choice for helping developing countries meet their global obligations under the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, is stumbling badly, adopting an out-dated policy on indigenous peoples designed to ‘mitigate’ impacts rather than respect rights already affirmed by the UN. Meanwhile, conservation organisations in Central Africa are paying lip service to a requirement to consult with indigenous peoples, before asking for international recognition of protected areas as UNESCO-recognised World Heritage Sites.
Now, indigenous peoples preparing for the United Nations 20th anniversary of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development express concern that a similar sham will be played out in Rio de Janeiro in June, where they fear a focus on the ‘Green Economy’ promises to do more to promote corporate ventures than ensure respect for their human rights. All this despite the fact that it is now nearly five years since the UN General Assembly agreed ‘minimum standards’ to protect indigenous peoples’ rights and explicitly required United Nations bodies to ‘promote respect for and full application of the provisions of’ the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (citing Article 42).
And this is doubly anomalous when it is these same UN-derived standards that are being, slowly but surely, applied through national and local problem-solving processes. The UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of the Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of Indigenous Peoples is working hard to remedy the problems of the Teribe people of Costa Rica, who are facing forced resettlement from their territory due to the Diquís dam.
The so-called voluntary standards of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, which, consistent with the UN’s human rights regime, require member companies to respect communities’ customary rights and their right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC), are helping the Vai people of western Liberia to enter into negotiations with the Malaysian transnational, Sime Darby, and seem to have encouraged the Liberian Government to rethink a policy of development at all costs and replace it with a rights-based approach to development. Let’s hope that the forest peoples of the Democratic Republic of Congo, whose lands carbon brokers are speculating on, can now ensure the same respect for their rights by companies like Wildlife Works Carbon, which ascribe to similar principles through the ‘Verified Carbon Standard’.
We all know that so-called sustainable development only works if people’s rights are respected. We need joined-up-thinking by the UN to make this real. The ‘Rio +20’ conference in June would be a good place to make this evident.
Liberia: Agri-business expansion threatens forests and local communities’ livelihoods
Agri-business expansion in Africa is a major threat to the forests and livelihoods of African peoples. Where governance is weak and the rights of local communities and indigenous peoples are insecure, agricultural development is disadvantaging local people. Awareness of the social and ecological impact of agri-business expansion in South East Asia has led to new standards for acceptable palm oil development. The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), a third-party voluntary certification process, has adopted a set of Principles and Criteria that is substantially consistent with a rights-based approach, and which seeks to divert palm oil expansion away from primary forests and areas of critical High Conservation Value (HCV) while prohibiting the takeover of customary lands without communities’ Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC). Increasingly, adherence to the RSPO standard is becoming a requirement for access to the European market and major palm oil producing conglomerates seeking to maintain market share are now members of the RSPO. Read more
Costa Rica: UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples follows-up on progress regarding the recognition of the rights of indigenous peoples affected by the proposed Diquís Dam
Professor James Anaya, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, visited Costa Rica from 23-27 March 2012 on an official mission to hold meetings with indigenous peoples’ representatives and members of communities affected by the proposed Diquís Dam, State representatives, and UN staff. His visit included meetings in six different indigenous territories where indigenous peoples from Boruca, Cabagra, China Kichá, Curré, Salitre, La Casona, Térraba, and Ujarrás participated. His visit is considered by many as an historic step towards advancing the recognition and respect of indigenous peoples’ rights in Costa Rica. Read more
Report by CEFAID questions the validity of the consultations in Cameroon for the World Heritage Site nomination of the Tri-National de la Sangha (TNS) protected area
The Tri-National de la Sangha (TNS) is a protected area with a landscape approach spanning three countries: Cameroon, Central African Republic (CAR) and the Republic of Congo. In 2010, the three countries jointly nominated the area as a UNESCO World Heritage site. This nomination was considered by the World Heritage Committee in June 2011. IUCN, as the World Heritage Committee’s Advisory Body responsible for evaluating the proposal, recommended that the nomination of the TNS be deferred - IUCN considered a substantial revision and subsequent full re-evaluation of the proposal necessary. Instead, the Committee’s decision taken in June 2011 was to refer the proposal, meaning that only some additional information (rather than a substantial revision) would be required and that the nomination could be resubmitted in 2012. Read more
Carbon Concessions in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) Neglect Communities
In 2011 the private Canadian company Ecosystem Restoration Associates (ERA) signed a management contract with the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) for a former logging concession of almost 300,000 hectares that adjoins the western reaches of Lac Mai Ndombe in Bandundu Province. Carbon trading and the generation of carbon credits through forest preservation and enhancement is the main objective of the ERA project. As part of our global project targeting support to communities in REDD pilot areas, and in the DRC, in March 2012, Forest Peoples Programme (FPP) and Cercle pour la defense de l’environnement (CEDEN) staff travelled to the region where we held meetings with the customary leaders from 6 communities living inside the ERA concession area. The objective of these meetings was to find out what was happening on the ground, and the extent to which communities were informed about goals, objectives and modus operandi of ERA staff. Read more
Indigenous peoples call on Global Environment Facility to honour its commitments
Indigenous peoples’ organisations have long called on the Global Environment Facility (GEF), as major global finance institution providing funding for government environmental projects and programmes, to adopt a specific policy on indigenous peoples in line with international standards. In October 2010, the GEF CEO, Monique Barbut, finally announced that the GEF would develop its own set of safeguard standards and would address the specific concerns of indigenous peoples. After a somewhat rushed process with limited participation, in November 2011 the GEF adopted a set of minimum safeguard standards on social and environmental assessment, involuntary resettlement, natural habitats and indigenous peoples. However, the final minimum standards approved by the GEF Council have been sharply criticised by indigenous peoples’ organisations for being based on outdated World Bank policies, and for restricting the GEF commitment to respect free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) only to those countries that have ratified ILO Convention 169. Read more
RIO+20 Conference might promote green economy and development at the expense of human rights and environmental justice - Parallel events will highlight demands and contribution of Indigenous Peoples
The UN Conference on Sustainable Development - Rio+20, is aimed at ensuring full implementation of international commitments on environment and social development. However, there are concerns that it will neglect the urgent need to respect indigenous peoples’ rights, traditional knowledge and self-determined development. Read more
Posted By Angela Strader at 6:06pm on April 23, 2012
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