in Bolivia

UN climate negotiations start in Bonn – two responses from civil society

UN climate negotiations start in Bonn - two responses from civil society, PHOTO: RAN

As the UN’s climate negotiations resumed yesterday in Bonn, Germany, the Ecosystems Climate Alliance released a statement calling for a new UN forest definition – one that makes clear the difference between native forests and monoculture plantations. A second Ecosystems Climate Alliance press statement released today outlines “outstanding REDD issues” to be addressed in Bonn.

Meanwhile a petition has been launched demanding that the UN negotiations include the proposal from the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth (Cochabamba, Bolivia, 20-22 April 2010).

The statement from the World People’s Movement for Mother Earth, as they call themselves, includes the following proposal on forests:

“The creation of a mechanism for the integral management and conservation of forests that, unlike REDD-plus, respects the sovereignty of states, guarantees the rights and participation of indigenous peoples and forest dependent communities, and is not based on the carbon market regime.”

Ecosystems Climate Alliance’s press statements are below, followed by the statement from the World People’s Movement for Mother Earth (in English and Spanish).

For immediate release: 31 May 2010
Contact: Don Lehr, dblehr@cs.com, +1.917.304.4058

Campaigners call for change on UN forest definitions to protect the climate

Bonn – As climate change negotiations resume here this week, a coalition of environmental campaigners has called on the UN’s scientific and technological advisory body(1) to create a new forest definition that differentiates natural forests from plantations. This is needed to prevent global efforts to protect forests and the climate from being undermined, according to the Ecosystems Climate Alliance (ECA).

The UN’s current definition of “forests” fails to distinguish between intact natural forests, modified natural forests, and plantations. Complex, biodiverse natural forests, therefore, could be logged or burnt and replaced with plantations – and this action would be regarded as having caused no change in the “forest.” Such a loophole allows deforestation and forest degradation to occur without sanction.

“The Bonn meeting represents an important opportunity to address revision of the UN’s forest definition,” said Sean Cadman of The Wilderness Society. “A new definition must be developed that properly distinguishes between natural forests and plantations, and eliminates the loophole that currently allows forests to be clear-cut or converted to plantations under the guise of protecting them and reducing emissions.”

The conversion of natural forests, whether to wood plantations or oil palm plantations, creates substantial greenhouse gas emissions, with up to 80% of carbon lost to the atmosphere depending on the type of forest ecosystem destroyed and the type of plantation which replaces it. In total, deforestation and forest degradation accounts for 12 to 20 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

“The emissions are particularly high from conversion of carbon-rich peatlands in Indonesia and Malaysia to large-scale oil palm and acacia,” said Susanna Tol of Wetlands International.

“Forests can be pushed to the point of ecosystem collapse and still not be classified ‘deforested’ under the current definition,” said Peg Putt of The Wilderness Society.

“The issue of clarifying natural forest definitions on a biome basis(2) has been on the UNFCCC agenda for years because of application problems in developed countries, but it’s repeatedly shunted onto the back-burner,” said Alistair Graham of Humane Society International. “Now is the time to make sensible forest definitions a priority, since the tricky definitional maneuvers we see now reveal that the safeguard provisions in the REDD text under negotiation are insufficient on their own.”
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(1) Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice, known as SBSTA.
(2) The definitional revisions must address differentiation of “natural forests” into separate “biomes” (for example, “cool/temperate,” “wet tropical,” or “peatswamp” forests) to reflect the wide-ranging carbon and biodiversity values of different biomes, and the varying management problems they face and conservation opportunities they present.

The Ecosystems Climate Alliance is an alliance of NGOs committed to keeping natural terrestrial ecosystems intact and their carbon out of the atmosphere. We work to ensure this is done in a way which is equitable, transparent, consistent with the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities, and which takes place alongside deep and urgent cuts in fossil fuel emissions. ECA comprises Australian Orangutan Project, Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), Global Witness, Humane Society International, Nepenthes, Rainforest Action Network, Rainforest Foundation Norway, The Rainforest Foundation U.K., Wetlands International, and The Wilderness Society.

For immediate release: 1 June 2010
Contact: Don Lehr, dblehr@cs.com, +1.917.304.4058

As UN Climate talks resume, protecting natural forests and peatlands and enforcing safeguards must be top priorities

BONN, Germany – As talks resume here today toward a new global deal to prevent catastrophic climate change, negotiators will be seeking a way forward on the challenge of reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD).

Stemming the tide of forest loss is a key link in the global effort against climate change. Forest destruction and degradation including loss of peatforest soils account for up to 20 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Establishing a strong agreement to halt that destruction — and mobilizing the funds to implement It — could help protect forests and peatlands, forest-dependent peoples, and the planet as a whole. But a flawed REDD agreement could threaten all three — jeopardizing intact forests and the rights of forest communities while creating loopholes that undermine real greenhouse gas reductions.

Hopes for a comprehensive and effective agreement on climate change were dashed in the final days of the Copenhagen talks last December. Parties made steady progress on a draft agreement for REDD, but it could not be finalized before the broader negotiations broke down. That draft included safeguards to ensure respect for the rights of indigenous peoples, prevent conversion of natural forests to plantations, protect biodiversity and ecosystems, and improve forest governance, but left pivotal questions unanswered. Resolving the issues that remain on REDD — including the crucial issues of monitoring and implementing the safeguards — will be critical to the success of the next climate summit in Cancun, Mexico this November.

“The question Parties must answer here is whether REDD is intended to protect the planet or protect business as usual. The safeguards are only safeguards if they are actually implemented, monitored and enforced. Without that, they’re no more than a paper tiger,” said Dr. Rosalind Reeve of Global Witness.

The Parties must also address other outstanding REDD issues, including:

  • Setting a clear and ambitious global goal to halt emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries by 2030, with reductions of at least 50% by 2020;
  • Setting funding priorities to ensure that REDD funds go first to protecting intact natural forests, avoiding drainage of peat soils, and improving forest governance, rather than to funding plantations and business as usual logging under the veil of “Sustainable Management of Forests”;
  • Establishing “national” baselines for forest status and trends, and rejecting calls for “sub-national” forest accounting whereby countries receive REDD funds for avoiding deforestation/forest degradation in one region while continuing to log in another.
  • Establishing a long-term REDD financing mechanism that clarifies how financial support will be mobilized, which countries will be eligible to receive funding, and whether longer term finance will be provided by funds, the market, or a combination of both.

Several recent processes, including the “REDD+ Partnership” agreement launched at last Thursday’s Oslo Climate and Forest Conference, have ramped up efforts to mobilize and coordinate funds from developed countries for REDD implementation. Apprehension is high among civil society campaigners that these schemes may become operative before strict guidelines on implementing and monitoring safeguards have been approved.

“The draft REDD text contains critical provisions to protect the rights of indigenous peoples, protect biodiversity, and build effective forest governance structures. It is vital to ensure that in the process of fast tracking REDD, implementing and monitoring the safeguards, along with ensuring protection of natural forests, are made the top priorities for funding,” said Nils Hermann Ranum of Rainforest Foundation Norway.

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The Ecosystems Climate Alliance is an alliance of NGOs committed to keeping natural terrestrial ecosystems intact and their carbon out of the atmosphere. We work to ensure this is done in a way which is equitable, transparent, consistent with the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities, and which takes place alongside deep and urgent cuts in fossil fuel emissions. ECA comprises Australian Orangutan Project, Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), Global Witness, Humane Society International, Nepenthes, Rainforest Action Network, Rainforest Foundation Norway, The Rainforest Foundation U.K., Wetlands International, and The Wilderness Society.

People’s Voices Must be Heard in Climate Negotiations

Official UNFCCC Negotiating Text Ignores World People’s Conference Solutions

In April 2010 more than 35,000 people from 140 countries gathered in Cochabamba, Bolivia and developed the historic Cochabamba People’s Agreement a consensus-based document reflecting substantive solutions to the climate crisis. We, the undersigned organizations, both participated in and/or supported this historic process. Reflecting the voices of global civil society and the agreements reached in 17 working groups, the Plurinational State of Bolivia made an official proposal, comprised of the core components of the Cochabamba People’s Agreement, to the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action (AWG-LCA) under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Since then, the accord has gained support and recognition by various nations and regional bodies including ALBA (Bolivarian Alliance of Our Americas) and UNASUR (Union of South American Nations).

We are therefore deeply concerned that the new text proposed in the AWG-LCA as a basis for climate change negotiations does not reflect any of the main conclusions reached in Cochabamba.

The Chair and the Vice Chair of the AWG-LCA (from Zimbabwe and the United States respectively) have instead incorporated all of the proposals of the Copenhagen Accord, which does not even have the consensus of the United Nations.

We urge the UNFCCC to embrace the conclusions reached by social movements, indigenous peoples and international civil society in Cochabamba. It is both undemocratic and non-transparent to exclude particular proposals from the negotiations, and it is imperative that the United Nations listens to the global community on this issue critical to humanity.

We call on all countries in the United Nations, and in particular the President and Vice-President of the AWG-LCA, to include the core conclusions of the Cochabamba People’s Accord in the negotiations in the run-up to Cancun. These life- and earth-saving proposals include:

1. A 50% reduction of domestic greenhouse gas emissions by developed countries for the period 2013-2017 under the Kyoto Protocol, domestically and without reliance on market mechanisms.

2. The objective of stabilizing greenhouse gas concentrations at 300ppm.

3. The need to begin the process of considering the proposed Universal Declaration on the Rights of Mother Earth to reestablish harmony with nature.

4. The obligation of developed countries to honor their climate debt toward developing countries and our Mother Earth.

5. The provision of financial resources equal to 6% of GDP by developed countries to help confront the climate change crisis.

6. The creation of a mechanism for the integral management and conservation of forests that, unlike REDD-plus, respects the sovereignty of states, guarantees the rights and participation of indigenous peoples and forest dependent communities, and is not based on the carbon market regime.

7. The implementation of measures for recognizing the rights of Indigenous peoples must be secured in accordance with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and applicable universal human rights instruments and agreements. This includes respect for the knowledge and rights of indigenous peoples; their rights to lands, territories and resources, and their full and effective participation, with their free, prior and informed consent.

8. The incentivizing of models of agricultural production that are environmentally sustainable and that guarantee food sovereignty and the rights of indigenous peoples and small-scale farmers.

9. The protection and recognition of the rights and needs of forced climate migrants.

10. The promotion of the establishment of an International Climate and Environmental Justice Tribunal.

11. The consideration of a World Referendum on Climate Change that allows the people to decide what will be done about this issue, which is of vital importance to the future of humanity and Mother Earth.

We demand that the conclusions established by the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth, which protect life and Mother Earth, be incorporated into the negotiating text during the negotiations in Bonn, Germany, from May 31st to June 11th, 2010.

There cannot be an equitable, transparent, and inclusive negotiation process, nor true solutions to the urgency of the climate crisis, if the AWG-LCA negotiating text ignores the voices of the peoples of the world that the negotiators should be representing.

La voz de los pueblos debe ser oida en negociaciones climaticas

Texto Oficial de negociacion de la CMNUCC ignora las soluciones de la Conferencia Mundial de los Pueblos

En abril de 2010 mas de 35.000 personas de 140 paises se reunieron en Cochabamba, Bolivia y desarrollaron el historico Acuerdo de los Pueblos, un documento basado en el consenso, que refleja las soluciones sustanciosas a la crisis climatica. Nosotros, las organizaciones abajo firmantes, participamos y/o apoyamos este proceso historico. Como reflejo de las voces de la sociedad civil global y los acuerdos alcanzados en 17 grupos de trabajo, el Estado Plurinacional de Bolivia hizo una propuesta oficial, compuesta por los componentes centrales del Acuerdo de los Pueblos de Cochabamba, al Grupo de Trabajo Especial sobre la Cooperacion a Largo Plazo (GTE-CLP) en el marco del Convenio Marco de Naciones Unidas sobre el Cambio Climatico (CMNUCC). Desde entonces, el acuerdo ha ganado el apoyo y el reconocimiento de diversas naciones y organismos regionales como el ALBA (Alianza Bolivariana de Nuestra America) y UNASUR (Union de Naciones Suramericanas).

Por consiguiente, nos preocupa profundamente que el nuevo texto propuesto en el GTE-CLP como base para negociaciones climaticas no refleja ninguna de las principales conclusiones alcanzadas en Cochabamba.
El Presidente y el Vicepresidente del GTE-CLP (de Zimbabwe y los Estados Unidos, respectivamente) han incorporado en su lugar, todas las propuestas del Acuerdo de Copenhague, que ni siquiera tiene el consenso de las Naciones Unidas.

Instamos a la CMNUCC a adoptar las conclusiones alcanzadas por los movimientos sociales, pueblos indigenas y sociedad civil internacional en Cochabamba. Es a la vez antidemocratico y poco transparente excluir determinadas propuestas de las negociaciones, y es imperativo que las Naciones Unidas escuche a la comunidad mundial sobre este problema critico para la humanidad.

Hacemos un llamado a todos los paises de las Naciones Unidas y, en particular al Presidente y el Vicepresidente del GTE-CLP, a fin de incluir las conclusiones fundamentales del Acuerdo de los Pueblos en las negociaciones en el periodo previo a Cancun. Estas propuestas de preservacion de la vida y la tierra incluyen:

1. Una reduccion del 50% de las emisiones internas de gases de efecto invernadero por parte de los paises desarrollados para el periodo 2013-2017 en virtud del Protocolo de Kyoto, a nivel nacional y sin depender de los mecanismos de mercado.

2. El objetivo de estabilizar las concentraciones de gases de efecto invernadero a 300 ppm.

3. La necesidad de iniciar el proceso de considerar la propuesta de Declaracion Universal sobre los Derechos de la Madre Tierra para restablecer la armonia con la naturaleza.

4. La obligacion de los paises desarrollados a que honren su deuda climatica hacia los paises en desarrollo y a nuestra Madre Tierra.

5. El suministro de recursos financieros equivalente al 6% del PIB de los paises desarrollados para ayudar a enfrentar la crisis del cambio climatico.

6. La creacion de un mecanismo para la gestion integral y la conservacion de los bosques que, a diferencia de REDD-plus, respete la soberania de los Estados, garantice los derechos y participacion de los pueblos indigenas y comunidades dependientes de los bosques, y no este basado en el regimen del mercado de carbono.

7. La implementacion de medidas para reconocer los derechos de los pueblos indigenas deben ser garantizados de conformidad con la Declaracion de las Naciones Unidas sobre los Derechos de los Pueblos Indigenas y los instrumentos y acuerdos universales de derechos humanos. Esto incluye el respeto por los conocimientos y los derechos de los pueblos indigenas, sus derechos a las tierras, territorios y recursos, y su participacion plena y efectiva, con su consentimiento libre, previo e informado.

8. El incentivar los modelos de produccion agricola que sean ambientalmente sostenibles y que garanticen la soberania alimentaria y los derechos de los pueblos indigenas y los pequenos agricultores.

9. La proteccion y el reconocimiento de los derechos y necesidades de los migrantes forzados por causas climaticas.

10. La promocion de la conformacion de un Tribunal Internacional de Justicia Ambiental y Climatica.

11. La consideracion de un Referendum Mundial sobre el Cambio Climatico que permita al pueblo decidir que se hara sobre este problema, que es de vital importancia para el futuro de la humanidad y la Madre Tierra.

Exigimos que las conclusiones establecidas por Conferencia Mundial de los Pueblos sobre Cambio Climatico y los Derechos de la Madre Tierra, que protegen la vida y la Madre Tierra, sean incorporados al texto de negociacion durante las negociaciones en Bonn, Alemania, del 31 Mayo al 11 Junio 2010.

No puede haber un proceso de negociacion equitativa, transparente e incluyente, ni verdaderas soluciones a la urgencia de la crisis climatica, si el texto de negociacion del GTE-CLP ignora las voces de los pueblos del mundo cuyos negociadores deberian representar.

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  1. I strongly support and believe that new definition of forests is required to protect REAL forests and carbon stocks, and biodiversity.

  2. @Nophea Sasaki – Thanks for this comment. Here’s a link to a post from last year on REDD-Monitor about the problematic UN definitions of “forest” – with a link to the paper you co-authored with Francis Putz in Conservation Letters.

  3. Kestabilan Perubahan Iklim di dunia tidak dijamin oleh adanya Mekanisme REDD dan CarBon Trade.

    Banyak mekanisme dicetuskan di atas bumi ini karena ingin melakukan suatu hal yang baik tapi tanpa melalui suatu kajian yang lengkap, begitu juga dengan Mekanisme REDD yang setiap tahun dibicarakan namun keputusannya setiap tahun juga tidak ada yang sesuaiu untuk seluruh tipologi kawasan dan masyarakat pribumi yang hidup bergantung dari keberadaan hutan tersebut.

    Setelah berubah menjadi REDD++ pun sebenarnya belum sepenuhnya baik untuk diberlakukan pada Negara yang beragam suku seperti di Indonesia. Papua adalah satu-satunya pulau yang masih memiliki hutan hujan tropis di kawasan Asia dan Pacific, namun mekanisme REDD tersebut tidak berpihak kepada mereka, karena mekanisme itu diciptakan untuk Civil Society bukan untuk Indigenous People, maka walaupun mereka memiliki hutan secara fakta, namun dana untuk pengelolaannya akan bergulir lebih dahulu kepada kepentingan Negara dahulu dari Pusat sampai kabupaten. Sehingga memang tak ada manfaatnya bagi Masyarakat Pribumi, dan sebaiknya kembali kepada Pengelolaan Hutan Berbasis Hukum Masyarakat Pribumi yang berkelenajutanlah yang seharusnya di dorong untuk Kawasan Hutan Hujan Tropis mengingat dari ketiga Kawasa Hutan Tropis di Kathulistiwa adalah milik Indigenous People.

    Dan memberikan penjelasan yang benar kepada masyarakat pribumi agar mereka dapat melakukan program itu dan tahu menempatkan diri pada situasi negosiasi pemanfaatan hutan.