in France, Norway

Indigenous Peoples excluded from French-Norwegian partnership on forests

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reddOn 11 March 2010, an international conference took place in Paris, hosted by French President Nicolas Sarkozy: the International Conference on the Major Forest Basins. While 64 nations took part in the conference, Indigenous Peoples were not invited.

A press release from the Forest Peoples Programme denounces the lack of transparency and participation in the discussions.

The Paris conference was widely hailed as a success, with a further US$1 billion committed. The Paris meeting is to be followed by a meeting in Oslo in May. “The REDD+ Partnership process must build real momentum for countries to move ahead with REDD+,” WWF Forest Carbon Initiative Leader Chris Elliott said in a statement. “It is important this remains an open and inclusive process.” Elliott seems oblivious to the fact that the process is not even remotely “open and inclusive”.

The risks posed by REDD for Indigenous Peoples are huge. Gabon’s environment minister, Martin Mabala, inadvertently revealed the risks the day before the Paris meeting. Associated Press reported him as saying that the world and indigenous populations need to view the forest differently. “Forests are a planetary asset and no longer the concern of individual countries,” Mabala said. “This is the business of all humanity.” In this view, the rights of Indigenous Peoples and local communities are rendered invisible by the world’s need for forests as stores of carbon.

According to Associated Press:

The 64 nations agreed to create a core structure of some 10 countries to work on the mechanics of equitably distributing funds and other issues. The idea is to arrive at the U.N. climate talks in Cancun, Mexico, in December with a concrete plan devoted specifically to the critical issue of deforestation.

Norway’s Environment Minister, Erik Solheim, explained the idea of the French-Norwegian partnership on forests to Reuters: “The idea is to establish a partnership of everyone who wants to be included” in safeguarding forests. “It will be open to everyone, even if you don’t contribute one single dollar, even if you don’t have a single tree,” he said.

Indigenous Peoples groups are demanding to be involved in this process. But the principle of free, prior and informed consent has already been stifled behind the closed doors of the Paris conference.

PRESS RELEASE – March 19, 2010

INDIGENOUS PEOPLES DENOUNCE LACK OF TRANSPARENCY AND PARTICIPATION IN FRENCH-NORWEGIAN PARTNERSHIP ON FORESTS AND CLIMATE DISCUSSIONS.

 
INDIGENOUS peoples were excluded when forest countries and donor governments met in Paris on March 11, 2010 to discuss a major forests and climate initiative. The parties met under an invitation from the French and Norwegian governments to start developing governance structures for the 3.5 billion USD Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) readiness funds announced in Copenhagen at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) COP15 last December. The UNFCCC negotiations are still far from delivering final commitments in full respect of indigenous peoples’rights.
 
“Failure to include indigenous peoples from the very inception of the French-Norwegian initiative is unacceptable. The lock-out from the Paris meeting is further evidence of the urgency to ensure full and effective participation of indigenous peoples at all levels of negotiations and discussions on issues related to their land, resources and territories and to their rights as recognized by international legal agreements and instruments such as the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP)” said Mina Setra, an indigenous representative from The Alliance of Archipelagic Indigenous People (AMAN), Indonesia.
 
“Lack of proper engagement and consultation with indigenous peoples is not only confined to international processes but is also a common feature of key REDD processes at the national level. We therefore urge governments to ensure that any architecture under discussion to administer REDD readiness funds be rights-based, accountable, transparent and participatory” said Pacifique Mukumba Isumbisho from CAMV (Support Center for Indigenous Pygmies and Vulnerable Minorities), Democratic Republic of Congo.
 
Forest Peoples Programme (FPP) continues to work with the broader indigenous peoples coalitions to ensure that any decision on interim REDD financing will be anchored to the recognition of Indigenous Peoples’ rights, such as the right to access to information, consultation and participation, the right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) and the right to their land and forests.
 
FPP calls on the Norwegian government to ensure that indigenous peoples are fully involved and consulted in the process leading up to the meeting to be held in Oslo in May when heads of government and heads of state are expected to approve the REDD partnership proposal.
 
For further information please contact:
 
Francesco Martone francesco@forestpeoples.org
Senior Policy Advisor
Forest Peoples Programme

 

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  1. Lang,

    Include the whole quote so people can get the context, don’t just cherry pick to present the angle you want. Finishing Mabala’s quote actually makes him look at more progressive than you make him out to be. Below delivers the context around the cherry picked quotes you used:

    “They emphasized that the task at hand is enormous, and long-term. Forest management must become participative, putting people who live off the forest at the heart of the program, the ministers said.

    Gabon’s environment minister, Martin Mabala, said the world and indigenous populations need to view the forest differently. For example, he said the term “wood cutter” should be replaced by the term “forest manager.”

    “Forests are a planetary asset and no longer the concern of individual countries,” Mabala said. “This is the business of all humanity.””

  2. @Chris – Thanks for this. Below is the Associated Press article in full. The context is an international meeting about forests and climate to which Indigenous People have not been invited. Mabala was presumably fully aware of this fact when he spoke to the AP journalist. The journalist spoke to Henri Djombo, the Republic of Congo’s sustainable development and environment minister, Martin Mabala, Gabon’s environment minister and one unnamed African minister. According to the article all three ministers “were unamimous” that

    “not enough money has been committed to the fight against deforestation – and they said the money earmarked so far should be funneled quickly to the relevant countries.

    “They emphasized that the task at hand is enormous, and long-term. Forest management must become participative, putting people who live off the forest at the heart of the program, the ministers said.”

    So, they are saying two things here:

    1. They need large amounts of money to carry out the enormous task of fighting deforestation.
    2. “Forest management must become participative, putting people who live off the forest at the heart of the program.”

    The first is pretty clear. The second could mean almost anything. The manager of a logging company could be described as living off the forest, as could the manager of an oil palm plantation or a pulp mill. As I pointed out in the post above, “the rights of Indigenous Peoples and local communities are rendered invisible by the world’s need for forests as stores of carbon.” The key word is “rights”. The ministers did not mention rights – at least as reported by Associated Press.

    Deforestation conference to turn plans to action
    By ELAINE GANLEY
    ASSOCIATED PRESS WRITER

    PARIS — French President Nicolas Sarkozy will open a daylong conference Thursday of some 40 nations to start turning plans into action to save the world’s forests and help rein in the noxious gases blamed for climate change.

    Ministers from countries of the Amazon and Congo river basins and Indonesia – whose massive forests, most at risk, are at the heart of efforts to end deforestation – were among those attending the one-day conference. A follow-up meeting is scheduled for May in Oslo, Norway.

    “The forest in danger. Massive planet-wide destruction continues,” France’s influential environment minister Jean-Louis Borloo said to reporters Wednesday ahead of the conference.

    The conference, with closed-door working groups, is looking to translate measures adopted at the U.N. climate summit in Copenhagen in December into concrete mechanisms – and funds.

    World Bank representatives and lending nations were also attending the meeting.

    To simply inventory the forests – counting the fauna and flora – is a necessary but hugely expensive “mammoth project,” said Henri Djombo, the Republic of Congo’s sustainable development and environment minister.

    Deforestation, which involves the burning of trees to clear land and the natural rotting of trees, is thought to account for up to 20 percent of carbon dioxide sent into the atmosphere – as much as that emitted by all the world’s cars, trucks, trains, planes and ships combined. Reducing deforestation is one of the most effective ways to reduce the emissions responsible for climate change.

    Indonesia and Brazil are the world’s third- and fourth-largest carbon emitters, after China and the United States. Deforestation for logging, growing crops or making room for cattle grazing, are the prime causes.

    A plan to help protect tropical forests by having rich nations pay the countries concerned fell apart in Copenhagen, though the forest program, known as REDD – for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation – survived.

    A portion of the $30 billion that world leaders agreed to spend over the next three years to help poor nations could go toward the forest program. World leaders agreed to spend a total of $100 billion by 2020.

    Finding mechanisms to disburse those funds quickly and fairly is among the tasks at the conference.

    Djombo and two other African ministers present with Borloo on Wednesday were unanimous that not enough money has been committed to the fight against deforestation – and they said the money earmarked so far should be funneled quickly to the relevant countries.

    They emphasized that the task at hand is enormous, and long-term. Forest management must become participative, putting people who live off the forest at the heart of the program, the ministers said.

    Gabon’s environment minister, Martin Mabala, said the world and indigenous populations need to view the forest differently. For example, he said the term “wood cutter” should be replaced by the term “forest manager.”

    “Forests are a planetary asset and no longer the concern of individual countries,” Mabala said. “This is the business of all humanity.”

  3. Lang,

    I agree with you that you can interpret, “Forest management must become participative, putting people who live off the forest at the heart of the program.”

    From one perspective, you could either be very cynical that this means enriching themselves and a bunch of loggers and not respecting the rights of indigenous peoples. Some may call that being realistic. Or, another perspective is to be optimistic and that the minister was including indigenous peoples and their rights in his comments.

    I look forward to seeing you at the April 6th, RRI meeting being held in London where IPs will be meeting with Norwegian and French government representatives. We can discuss in further.

    Cheers, Chris

  4. Chris

    How happily ignorant you show yourself to be, and I can only wonder whether you have ever been to this poor country, or to Gabon or anywhere else in the Congo sub-region.

    I do not know what Gabonese minister Mbala might think about indigenous people, but our own minister, Mr Djombo, is clear: his family keeps them (Ba’Mbenjelle Pygmees) as SLAVES, see http://www.internationalreportingproject.org/stories/detail/506/

    Meanwhile, people in the Likouala know that, though he has never admitted it, minister Djombo has interests in the areas biggest logging company, which has brought in 20 thousand immigrants to what used to be a village of 300.

    So who do you think mr Djombo is talking about when he says that “Forest management must become participative, putting people who live off the forest at the heart of the program.”?

    Whatever meeting is in London on April 6th, I am sure you will have lots to say about things you obviously know nothing about.

    If you want to lecture about ‘realism’, Chris, try finding out what the reality is first.

  5. @Chris – As I pointed out in the post and in my comment on 23 March, the key word is rights. It is entirely missing from the quotation, the article and in fact the entire Paris-Oslo REDD discussions.

    You comment that “another perspective is to be optimistic and that the minister was including indigenous peoples and their rights in his comments.” But to hold the belief that government ministers are including indigenous peoples and their rights although they mention none of the relevant words would be an extraordinary leap of faith. Especially given the context that Laurent points out, that would be panglossian, not optimistic.

    I won’t be going to the RRI meeting on 6 April 2010, I’m afraid. I’m sure it will be interesting to hear and see indigenous peoples talking to representatives of the French and Norwegian governments (and I look forward to seeing the reports from the meeting), but it’s an NGO-organised meeting. The point is that indigenous peoples were excluded from the meeting in Paris.

  6. Chris

    I am sure people working in the developed world and fans of a very cheap carbon offset mechanism for developing countries will start to call you in sordid terms as Mr Laurent I am sure a PR staff who works uncovered for a US carbon traders TNC or IFF.You are just telling the truth about REDD and multilateral agencies such as UN-REDD, governments and polluters do not like it.
    The fight will be hard but I think you are doing a very good effort to expose how tricky these consultations and mechanism is.