News from RRI »
Forest Peoples Programme: July E-news Update
The challenge of climate change has injected new energy – and funding – into forest policy-making. Ever since the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change agreed the need to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD), there have been sustained calls by indigenous peoples and concerned NGOs, that forest peoples’ rights must be secured as part of this initiative. Texts agreed in Cancun accept that REDD must respect human rights and ensure the effective participation of indigenous peoples and local communities, and funders must ‘safeguard’ these principles and ensure countries observe their international obligations. A new funder of REDD schemes, the Global Environment Facility has been persuaded to take more time developing its new safeguard policies to ensure consistency with these obligations.
Most of the articles in this newsletter focus on the battle to put these commitments into practice. In Peru, voluntary REDD schemes in Madre de Dios and San Martin are proliferating without adequately taking rights into consideration. Indigenous peoples insist that their rights to their forests must be secured first before areas are allocated to conservation schemes, otherwise they will be excluded. A guest article from the Nishnawbe Aski Nation sets out their concerns with a similar challenge in Canada. In Cameroon, a study by FPP and partners shows that protected areas linked with REDD funding have been designed without adequate consultation. Although both the World Bank and WWF protest that it is too early to make this charge, we contend that prior engagement with and consent from rights-holders is required by international law. Indeed, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples notes that ‘low-carbon development strategies’, such as dam-building programmes in Costa Rica, by avoiding meaningful consultation and adequate impact studies, are seriously compromising indigenous peoples’ rights and undermining their right to self-determination. In Peru, sustained advocacy by indigenous organisations has secured commitments from the government and the World Bank to provide additional readiness funds to address land tenure issues.
Building up the capacity of local communities and indigenous peoples to engage in these policy debates is a crucial part of this work. In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), we are working with local partners in Equateur Province to raise awareness about rights and REDD. In Uganda, DRC and Rwanda, FPP is helping Batwa communities to make 3-dimensional maps of their forest lands to show what these forests, from which Batwa have been excluded by protected areas, mean to them. Participatory map-making helps knit together communities and demonstrates to younger generations the value and relevance of the traditional knowledge of their elders. FPP and partners are now working with the IUCN to establish a new approach, dubbed the ‘Whakatane Mechanism’, to ensure protected areas respect indigenous peoples’ rights. We announce also an upcoming workshop on Gender and Land Tenure in Africa, taking place in Cameroon, to review how national land tenure laws need revising to meet each country’s international human rights obligations.
Getting forest peoples’ rights effectively recognised and protected requires mobilisation and advocacy at all levels from the very local to the most global. We go forwards energised by the vigour in this shared endeavour.
Marcus Colchester, Director
Ugandan Batwa complete 3-D Model of their Bwindi Forest ancestral area
In 2009 a group of Batwa representatives from Uganda travelled to Ogiek communities in Kenya to learn about their situation and the different advocacy strategies they were using. One of these strategies was the use of Participatory 3-Dimensional Modelling (P3DM), which helped the Ogiek engage Kenyan agencies on their rights to their ancestral territory, the Mau Forest. The Batwa walked away from this visit impressed by the simplicity of the P3DM technique and hopeful of replicating it in their own context. Two years later in June 2011, the Batwa, with support from the ARCUS Foundation, began their own three-dimensional modelling of their ancestral territory, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. More than 100 representatives from the Batwa communities surrounding Bwindi, including youth, elders, women and men attended the exercise over a three-week period. Read more
‘No signing of REDD contracts in Madre de Dios and San Martin’: Indigenous organisations call on their communities to exercise caution
San Martin and Madre de Dios are the two regions earmarked for the development of pilot REDD activities in Peru. Both regions are facing an avalanche of over 20 REDD projects oriented towards the voluntary carbon market. Many of these sub-national REDD+ projects are descending on the ancestral territories of indigenous peoples including the Shawi, Awajun and Kechwa in San Martin, and the Ese Eja, Yine, Shipibo, Amahuaca, Arakambut and Machiguenga in Madre de Dios. In Peru, approximately 20 million hectares of indigenous territories have no legal recognition which means that REDD may often pose a threat rather than an opportunity. Read more
Determined lobbying by Peruvian national indigenous organisation - AIDESEP - leads to government commitment to address outstanding indigenous territorial claims
On the 25th March 2011 in Dalat, Vietnam, members of the Forest Carbon Partnership Fund (FCPF) Participants Committee approved the third version of Peru’s national REDD Readiness Preparation Proposal (RPP) that the Ministry of Environment (MINAM) had been developing since 2009. Read more
Congo Basin Forest Peoples, Rights and Delivery of REDD Benefits
Forest Peoples Programme staff recently visited forest communities in Equateur province, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), who they have been supporting since 2009 with information-sharing and consultation meetings related to REDD and conflict prevention. During training and project monitoring visits FPP and our local partner CEDEN (Cercle pour la defense de l'environnement) held public meetings with around 2000 forest people from across the Lac Tumba conservation landscape. Read more
Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Issues: A Note on his official mission to Costa Rica
The UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (SRIP), James Anaya, has recently (24 to 27 April 2011) concluded an official mission to Costa Rica. In his report of that mission he makes a series of observations and recommendations concerning the situation of indigenous peoples affected by the Diquis hydroelectric project. Read more
Input into the Global Environment Facility environmental and social safeguards
The process of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) developing safeguards continues. In April this year an initial draft was released, and with minimal consultation, sent to the GEF Board for approval in May. The indigenous peoples’ focal points to the GEF, the GEF-NGO Network, other indigenous organizations and Forest Peoples Programme (FPP) all provided detailed input into the GEF Council deliberations, arguing strongly that the safeguards were not sufficient and would not act to improve development or environmental outcomes. Read more
Implementing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: an opportunity to influence GEF policy, Jen Rubis
As awareness of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples has grown, we as indigenous peoples have actively sought the implementation of this document in all institutions, policies and programmes that have the potential to impact us. To be able to address the exclusion that indigenous peoples face at the grassroots, we have consistently fought for the right to full and effective participation in mechanisms that affect us. Moving the battle upstream is not easy as we have to educate ourselves in a language and cultural environment that is far removed from our own processes of participation and decision-making. It takes time away from the priority – the persistent violation of our rights and resources at the community level. Read more
Could land reform succeed where conservation has failed?
Conservation organisations have been making great strides towards recognising that protected areas must respect the rights of indigenous peoples as enshrined in international law, including the right to give or withhold their free prior and informed consent to the establishment of new protected areas in their customary territories. Yet in practice conservation organisations often continue to exclude local people from using forest and other resources, and only consult them after they have drawn up management plans rather than jointly writing them. Read more
Guest article from the Nishnawbe Aski Nation of Canada - "Expropriation of Indigenous Lands for Government Designated Protected Areas in Northern Ontario, Canada"
Canada’s Auditor General commented in her June 2011 report that living conditions in First Nations reserves are still much worse than elsewhere in Canada. Reflecting on her ten years in office, she argued that a fundamental change is needed to address this issue. In 2010, Canada finally endorsed the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) after being one of four governments to vote against it during its passage through the General Assembly in 2007. Read more
Looking Ahead – Regional workshop on Gender and Land Tenure in Africa
A regional workshop entitled ‘Gender and land tenure in Africa’ will take place from July 26 to 29, 2011 in Edea, Cameroon. Organized by Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI), the Réseau des Femmes Africaines pour la Gestion Communautaire des Forêts (REFACOF), and Forest Peoples Programme (FPP), this workshop’s goals include creating a discussion forum on gender, rights to land, and forest resources in Africa and clarifying the applicable legal framework and protection mechanisms created to secure the rights to land and resources. This workshop will also provide an opportunity to share information on land and forest reforms that are taking place in several African countries. It will bring together approximately thirty participants, including representatives from forest communities and indigenous peoples. Read more
Draft concept note for pilot Whakatane Assessments now open for feedback
As mentioned in Forest Peoples Programme’s February E-Newsletter, a meeting was held at the IUCN CEESP Sharing Power conference in Whakatane, New Zealand, January 2011, between indigenous representatives, the chairs of three IUCN commissions (CEESP, WCPA and SSC) and sub-commissions (TILCEPA and TGER), key staff of the IUCN secretariat (the Director of the Environment and Development Programme and the Senior Adviser on Social Policy), and other staff from IUCN, Conservation International and Forest Peoples Programme. The main outcome of the meeting and subsequent follow-up discussions was an agreement to implement a series of measures to review the implementation of resolutions related to indigenous peoples adopted at the 4th World Conservation Congress (WCC4) in 2008 and to advance their implementation should there be a gap. Read more
Posted By Adam Houston at 2:09pm on July 12, 2011
This blog may contain links to external websites. These links should not be construed as endorsements by Rights and Resources of the content present. They are provided for informational purposes only.