Indigenous Peoples in Ecuador reject REDD

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CONFENIAE, the confederation of indigenous peoples from the Ecuadorian Amazon (the Ecuadorian member organization of COICA), issued a statement on 3 August 2009 which strongly rejects REDD:

“We reject the negotiations on our forests, such as REDD projects, because they try to take away our freedom to manage our resources and also because they are not a real solution to climate change, on the contrary, they only make it worse.”

The full statement is below, and can be downloaded in English (pdf file, 113 KB) or Spanish (pdf file, 340 KB).

STATEMENT
Unión Base, Puyo August 3rd, 2009

CONFENIAE REJECTS ALL KINDS OF ENVIRONMENTAL NEGOCIATIONS ON FORESTS AND EXTRACTIVE POLICIES THAT DAMAGE THE TERRITORIES OF THE AMAZONIAN INDIGENOUS NATIONALITIES AND PEOPLES OF ECUADOR

CONSIDERING


That the Right to Plurinationality and Sumak Kawsay, enshrined in the Constitution of the Republic, and the Right to Self-Determination of the Ancestral Nationalities and Peoples, consecrated in international instruments like Convention 169 of the ILO [and] the universal United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, exist to guarantee that human beings and nature live together in a world in suitable conditions, and that they can develop based on the principles of solidarity, reciprocity [and] the conservation of the territorial space as a whole, for the security and survival of the present and future generations; and to guarantee a healthy environment, free of pollution, repression and the imposition of government policies on indigenous peoples;

That all these policies and extractive activities and negotiations on the forests and biodiversity in our Ancestral Territories will have unfathomable consequences, including the extinction of our identity as Ancestral Nations, [our] loss of the control and management of our territories, which would subsequently be managed by the State, foreign countries, multinationals, REDD negotiators or Carbon Traders; which would result in unprecedented misery, hunger and extreme poverty, just like what is happening right now to our indigenous brothers and sisters in the Northern Amazon of Ecuador because of geopolitical, economic and commercial interests;

RESSOLVES:

1. To warn and communicate to all the grassroots organizations of the structure of the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of the Ecuadorian Amazon – CONFENIAE, which is comprised of centers, communities, associations, federations, organizations and nationalities, in the framework of the Resolution and Mandate of the Congress held on May 28-31, 2009, that the Regional Organization of the Ecuadorian Amazon, will not permit interference nor representation, nor allow spokespersons to discuss nor dialogue, let alone take steps to negotiate in national or international forums our Natural Resources that exist in our Territories.

2. The CONFENIAE will not negotiate nor dialogue without the consent of the grassroots on the issues of Oil Extraction Activities, Mining, Hydroelectric Dams, the SocioBosque Plan, REDD business, Environmental Services, etc., since certain entities, like the Energy, Environment and Population institution, the World Bank and Carbon Traders in alliance with Latin American governments are trying to negotiate the lives of the Indigenous Nationalities and Peoples [and] undermine our Rights to our Territories.

3. We recognize that climate change is a problem and we demand that Annex I countries acknowledge their responsibility for greenhouse gas emissions, [and,] therefore, diminish the burning of fossil fuels, whose extraction has caused deforestation in the Amazon and grave social and environmental problems in our territories.

4. We reject the negotiations on our forests, such as REDD projects, because they try to take away our freedom to manage our resources and also because they are not a real solution to climate change, on the contrary, they only make it worse.

5. We inform COICA, of which we are a part, that, as Ecuadorian Amazonian representatives with the right to voice and vote, that no person, entity, NGO, etc., is authorized to speak on our behalf in favor or against any issue without our knowledge and participation.

Sincerely,

Tito Puanchir.

PRESIDENT “CONFENIAE”


PRONUNCIAMIENTO
Unión Base, Puyo 03 agosto 2009.

LA CONFENIAE RECHAZA TODO TIPO DE NEGOCIACIONES AMBIENTALES, SOBRE LOS BOSQUES Y POLÍTICAS EXTRACTIVAS, QUE AFECTEN LOS TERRITORIOS DE LAS NACIONALIDADES AMAZÓNICAS Y PUEBLOS INDÍGENAS DEL ECUADOR

CONSIDERANDO


Que, el Derecho a la Plurinacionalidad y el Sumak Kawsay, expresados en la Constitución de la República, y el Derecho a la Autodeterminación de las Nacionalidades y Pueblos Ancestrales, que rezan los Instrumentos Internacionales como el Convenio 169 de la OIT, la Declaración Universal de las Naciones Unidas sobre los Derechos de los Pueblos Indígenas, están para garantizar la vivencia y convivencia entre los seres humanos y la naturaleza, en un mundo de aceptables condiciones, un desarrollo basado en los principios de la solidaridad, reciprocidad, conservación de todo el espacio territorial, para la seguridad y existencia de generaciones, presentes y venideras, y para garantizar un ambiente sano, libre de contaminación, de represión, de sumisión por parte de las políticas de los ciertos gobiernos hacia los pueblos indígenas.

Que, toda política y actividad extractiva y de negociación de los bosques y biodiversidad en nuestros Territorios Ancestrales causará inimaginables implicaciones, entre ellas la extinción de la identidad de las Naciones Ancestrales, la perdida del control y el manejo de nuestros territorios que pasarían a ser manejados por el Estado, países extranjeros, transnacionales, negociadores de REDD o comerciantes de Carbono, todo lo cual devendría en miseria, hambre y pobreza extrema nunca antes vistas, tal como ahora ocurren con nuestros hermanos indígenas en la Amazonia norte del Ecuador por intereses geopolíticos, económicos y comerciales.

RESUELVE:

1. Alertar y comunicar a todas las bases de la estructura de la Confederación de las Nacionalidades Indígenas de la Amazonia Ecuatoriana -CONFENIAE, constituidas en los Centros, Comunidades, Asociaciones, Federaciones, Organizaciones y Nacionalidades, en el marco de la Resolución y Mandato del Congreso de 28-31 de mayo del 2009, que la Organización Regional de la Amazonía Ecuatoriana, no permitirá, la intromisión, ni representación, ni interlocutores para que discutan, dialoguen, aun mas, den paso a la negociación de nuestro Bienes Naturales existentes en nuestros Territorios en espacios nacionales o internacionales.

2. La CONFENIAE no negociará ni dialogará sin consentimiento de sus bases, sobre temas de negociaciones para Actividades Extractivas Petroleras, Mineras, Hidroeléctricas, Plan Socio Bosque, negocios REDD, Servicios Ambientales, etc, ya que ciertos organismos, como la institución Energía Ambiente y Población, Banco Mundial y los Mercaderes de Carbono, conjuntamente en alianza con los gobiernos Latinoamericanos, pretenden negociar sobre la vida de las Nacionalidades y Pueblos Indígenas afectando nuestros Derechos Territoriales.

3. Reconocemos el problema del Cambio Climático y exigimos a los países del Anexo 1 que reconozcan su responsabilidad en cuanto a las emisiones de gases con efecto invernadero, disminuyendo por tanto la quema de combustibles fósiles, cuya extracción ha causado la deforestación de la Amazonía y graves problemas sociales y ambientales en nuestros territorios.

4. Rechazamos las negociaciones sobre nuestros bosques, como los son los proyectos REDD, ya que pretenden quitarnos el libre manejo sobre nuestros recursos y porque además no son una solución definitiva al problema del cambio climático, al contrario, solo lo empeora.

5. Comunicamos a la COICA, de la cual somos parte, como representantes amazónicos ecuatorianos con derecho a voz y voto, que ninguna persona, organismo, ONG, etc, está autorizado a pronunciarse a nuestro nombre a favor o en contra de cualquier tema del cual no tengamos conocimiento ni participación.

Atentamente,

Tito Puanchir
PRESIDENTE “CONFENIAE”

Ines Shiguango
Vicepresidenta “CONFENIAE”

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6 Comments

  1. Spread out around a small airstrip in the Ecuadorian Amazon, the Huaorani community of Quehueri’Ono is a leading light in a country where eco-tourism destinations are some of the world’s best. Having won three awards, the Huaorani eco-tourism operation, in partnership with the operator Tropic, is proving an excellent way to protect their land and culture while providing a source of income.

    This story is even more successful given the predicament that the Huaorani finds themselves in. Vulnerable, heavily outgunned and with few if any rights to the oil beneath their land, they are often forced to deal with the invasion of progress epitomised by the dirty and toxic politics of the oil industry.

    Back of the envelope calculations suggest that eco-tourism is worth $200 million per year to Ecuador’s economy. Although oil sales dwarf this figure, the tribe are challenging the oil industry’s development credibility. By offering sustainable alternatives, they are harnessing new green markets which represent essential building block for the area’s future.

    Eco-tourism is a crucial means in which the Huaorani can connect with the outside world at a pace they can control. Gaining experience in marketing and as guides is invaluable training and is laying the foundations for the tribe to be in full control of the eco-tourism operation within a decade or so.

    The eco-tourism association, representing five Huaorani communities, is also working on a participatory mapping project in the North-West of their territory that will provide cutting edge data about their land. If the map is accepted by the political organization representing the tribe, an agreement could be reached to pay the Huaorani for their role in conserving the forest in their territory.

    This mapping project is part of a broader forestry initiative launched in September this year by the Ecuadorian government called Plan Socio Bosque. A voluntary scheme aimed at rewarding farmers and indigenous communities for protecting their forest, successful participants could be paid up to 30 dollars per hectare per year.

    This pioneering forestry initiative reflects the growing awareness that tackling deforestation is a key part of dealing with climate change. Emerging strategies seeking to reduce emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD) are seen as not only good for the climate and conserving biodiversity, but as an important source of finance for developing countries with populations dependent on forests for their livelihoods. The basic principle is to sufficiently compensate countries with tropical forests and high rates of deforestation to not cut down their forests. For that reason the Government of Ecuador will present Plan Socio Bosque as a national REDD initiative at the international climate change conference in Poland starting next week.

    Like many Amazonian tribes, the Huaorani are experts at sustainable forest management. Not only is deforestation bad for their health and culture but within the new eco-tourism and climate change era, it is also bad for business. The Huaorani are therefore a vital asset to new initiatives like Socio Bosque and the Ecuadorian economy through their knowledge and expertise in looking after forests. With the correct support and respect for their rights, the Huaorani and other indigenous peoples’ in the Ecuadorian Amazon have the potential to becoming key players in the region’s future.

  2. TheyAreAskingFor aVoice And aVote

    The title of this post – is misleading at best, damaging at worst. MUCHISIMO has been lost in translation from the Indigenous People’s own language – to Spanish – to English – to Chris Lang’s take on the story. The ongoing REDD project (Socio Bosque) in Ecuador was designed, planned and negotiated by the Ecuadorian Government and the WorldBank (no indigenous leadership present) and is managed by CI and GTZ. No way no how was ‘free and prior informed consent.’ involved. The tribal chiefs are now demanding to be INCLUDED in the design, negotiations and implementation of any project – REDD or otherwise, that is being planned – by outsiders – to take place on their land. CON RAZON !

  3. It is clear that indigenous peoples as well as other local communities with customary rights should in theory, enjoy every right to negotiate their interests in REDD initiatives. In practice this may prove difficult if indigenous and local peoples are dependent on intermediaries to “represent” them and/or negotiate on their behalf. The problem is a major issue to the success and long-term sustainability of carbon markets, voluntary or post-copenhagen.

    To date, there is no clear strategy that is being implemented for the design of a capacity building initiative at global, regional (continental) or sub-regional (e.g. Congo Basin, Amazonia etc) levels that will enable (a) free, prior, and informed consent (FPIC) standards to be realized (b)community (endogenous) analysis of optimal and feasible approaches to REDD that represent community interests and can prove sustainable (c) capacity building to enable communities to make informed decisions based on such analysis in more than a non-simpolistic manner (d) capacity building to enable all the management and oversight functions required of what obligatorily will prove to be a challenging adaptive management process to be in place.

    Simply stating that there should be FPIC, and that there should be community capacity building, as is often the case in pronouncements from major fora on the topic of REDD, obscures the thornier questions of: (1) what capacity building? (2) at what scales? (3) how will this be financed? (4) how can autonomy (versus dependency) be generated via the capacity building?

    As the CONFENIAE declaration illustrates, some indigenous peoples are clearly aware of the stakes and risks involved in REDD. Theyt also are demonstrating they have the ability to advocate positions that reflect their membership. For organizations sufficiently well organized, this is a great start and perhaps, CONFENIAE possesses all the skill sets I mention above so for them my comments may be superflous.

    For many communitires in Africa – indigenous or simply those that enjoy (or should enjoy) customary rights under the legal and judicial systems in which they operate, either the awareness of REDD issues, or the ability to advocate coherent positions, or the ability to take informed/representative decisions based on the full sense of what FPIC means, is dubious. This is arguably true across much of sub-saharan Africa offers the greatest REDD potential – e.g. the Congo Basin/central African countries in particular, where community level social capital is underdeveloped, and where communitires operate at granular levels, lacking economies of scale in voice and operational capacity.

    For REDD to work in the short term in such sub regions, and to be sustainable, this situation must change. It is very unclear, however, whether any entities are prepared to strategically invest in this type of capacity building. This may be due to the assumption that application of techniques liike participatory rural appraisal (PRA), rapid rural appraisal (RRA) ZOPP or other participatory community mobilization techniques that have been used for decades will prove sufficient. This assumption is however dubious, for there is little to indicate through public domain information that those techniques have created community level coapacities to act proactively, make informed decisions based on FPIC, and to adaptively manage the process. For REDD to work, consideration of approporiate methods to address the challenges will need to be demonstrated at scales that matter.

  4. The rules for REDD are not defined yet, hence I dont understand why people are against it. What is needed is to propose rules for REDD that favor the planet and indigenous peoples. I believe that the intention of indigenous peoples from Ecuador is to expel the organizations and enterpreneurs that currently are trying to continue their bussines out of the forests. However, it is a matter of justice to compensate indigenous peoples for their contribution to reduce green house gases.

    Las reglas sobre cómo funcionará REDD todavía no se han
    definido por lo que el pronunciamiento de los indígenas del Ecuador creo mas bien es para prevenir que sus tierras sean despojadas y/o mal utilizadas. Pero lo que hay que hacer es que el mecanismo REDD realmente sirva a las comunidades indígenas que habitan los bosques. Todavía tenemos tiempo.
    Hagamos una campaña global para que en Copenhaghe se cree un mecanismo REDD que no sea financiado por los mercados de carbono y en el que los pueblos indígenas tengan una voz determinante.

  5. Anyone familiar with Ecuadorian politics should not be surpised at this declaration by CONFENIAE. Regardless of the fact that rules and guidelines for REDD are yet to be defined, short term leaders continue to blow smoke at foreign institutions and accumulate political capital by opposing almost every new idea ever proposed. Unfortunately for indigenous organizations of the Amazon, the Correa administration (having recently suffered a dramatic split with CONFENIAE and the main indigenous political party) is requiring that all carbon project be directed through the Ecuadorian government. Thus, complaints of CONFENIAE are rendered somewhat moot.
    What this issue does bring to light, however, are 1) the necesity of a grassroots campaign among indigenous communities in places like the Amazon, highlighting the benefits of REDD programs, and 2) the importance of including various stakeholders when REDD negotiations do begin to get serious. It is clear from the CONFENIAE statement that there is a lack of understanding of the motivation behind REDD programs (it is possible that there is even a lack of understanding that deforestation causes carbon emissions). Without alternative income sources and incentives to protect forests, local communities will continue logging. However, the history of rampant corruption and misused aid money in countries such as Ecuador make worrisome the thought of offering incentives in the form of REDD programs. It is likely that REDD programs will benefit some more than others, but the potential opportunities for protecting tropical biodiversity while at the same time combating climate change cannot be wasted.

  6. Talves falta explicar mejor los mecanismos REDD. Responsabilidades de los beneficiarios, beneficios directos e indirectos, límites de intervención, plazos, valor económico de los servicos ambientales, otras formas de compensación y apoyos para mantener el bosque primario, así como de los apoyos para recuperar áreas ya afectadas por la deforestación.
    Sospecho que puede haber oposición de parte de los taladores del bosque y los comerciantes de esta maderas que están actuando en la selva amazónica ecuatoriana por décadas. Probablemente estos destructores del bosque primario, han acostumbrado a los indígenas a sistemas de pagos muy fácil, real y concreto. En caso de comprobarse mi hipótesis, me pregunto: cómo podemos desarticular este tipo de relación pragmática y de fácil acceso al dinero al que podrían estar acostumbrados los beneficiarios indígenas??

    Perdón por mi hipótesis. No quiero ofender a ninguna persona. Soy ecuatoriano adulto, profesional, investigador, consultor, y conozco la realidad, los hábitos, los comportamientos de los seres humanos. Parece que hay segmentos socio económicos que no están academizados o son ignorados a propósito.

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