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NGO letter to the Interim REDD+ Partnership raises fundamental questions

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NGO letter to the Interim REDD+ Partnership raises fundamental questions, PHOTO: Ricardo Beliel-Alamy

On 7 September 2010, 34* NGOs from 20 different countries sent a letter to the co-chairs of the Interim REDD+ Partnership. The letter provides comments on the Partnership’s draft Workplan and denounces “the protracted lack of political will to ensure proper participation of civil society and indigenous peoples’ organisations in the processes of the Interim REDD+ Partnership.”

On 21 August 2010, the Interim REDD+ Partnership circulated a REDD+ Partnership Work Programme (pdf file, 60.8 KB). The Work Programme was sent via email to an apparently random selection of organisations, some that are not even working on REDD. Needless to say, many key actors, in particular indigenous peoples organisations were excluded from the Partnership’s email list.

The Interim REDD+ Partnership has not yet released any notes from its meeting in Brasilia in July nor from its meeting in Bonn in early August. On 5 August 2010, REDD-Monitor asked for a copy of the notes from the Brasilia meeting. In his reply, dated 6 August 2010, Paul Chung, the Director of Communications at the Coalition for Rainforest Nations, stated that

“We are actually just now finalizing notes from the IPR meeting in Brasilia. I would be happy to share them with you once they are finalized.”

On 30 August 2010, REDD-Monitor asked whether the notes of the Brasilia meeting had been completed and asked for the notes of the meetings that took place in Bonn in early August. Here’s Chung’s response:

From: Paul Chung
To: Chris Lang
Date: 31 August 2010 03:18
Subject: RE: Interim REDD+ Partnership

Dear Chris,

The Partnership continues to work on a number of documents from recently completed meetings. I am happy to report that all these documents will be made available on the REDD+ Partnership website which is now being designed by the Facilities Management Team of the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility and the Programme Team of the UN-REDD Programme.

I will do my best to give you advance notice of when the website goes live.

Best regards,

Paul

_____________________
Paul Chung
Director of Communications
Coalition for Rainforest Nations

In other words, notes of the Interim REDD+ Partnership’s meeting will be released, but at some unspecified future point in time. And, in the case of the Brasilia meeting, not before the next meeting of the Partnership took place in Bonn. Clearly this is unacceptable.

The Interim REDD+ Partnership will be meeting again during the UN climate meeting in Tianjin, China in early October. It will be interesting to see whether the Interim REDD+ Partnership continues to blunder around in the dark, or whether it allows some transparency into its proceedings.

But the problems with the Interim REDD+ Partnership are not just limited to a lack of transparency. As the letter below points out through a series of questions, the Partnership is skating over a series of issues of crucial importance to REDD. REDD-Monitor looks forward to posting the Interim REDD+ Partnership’s response to these questions.

7 September 2010

To the Co-chairs Interim REDD+ Partnership,

The undersigned organizations are providing comments on the draft Workplan of the Interim REDD+ Partnership. However we also take this opportunity to reiterate our disappointment with the protracted lack of political will to ensure proper participation of civil society and indigenous peoples’ organisations in the processes of the Interim REDD+ Partnership.

Following the Brasilia meeting where civil society was given one week notification to participate, many civil society organisations registered the unacceptability of the lack of participation through submissions to the co-chairs of the Partnership, and in turn suggested acceptable approaches the Partnership could take regarding the engagement of civil society and indigenous peoples’ organisations. It is thus profoundly disappointing that the Partnership again failed to engage with indigenous peoples and civil society members who were prepared to meet them and present on issues during the recent meetings in Bonn, following which we are now tasked with commenting on the 2010 work plan with no previous participation or contribution to its development.

Engagement of all stakeholders in the design, planning, monitoring and implementation of the process is an essential part of the effective implementation of polices to reduce deforestation and forest degradation. The modalities proposed so far by the Partnership do not satisfy the minimum requirements for effective participation and consultation, and therefore we urge that the workplan include a process to develop concrete and effective procedures to ensure proper participation and input to the Partnership initiatives. Simply using a mailing list that has been put together randomly, including organisations that are not working on REDD and excluding key actors, notably indigenous peoples organisations, is not an acceptable way to pretend that stakeholders are engaged in an effective and fair manner.

Additionally, we would like to point to an issue contained in the Workplan that is of particular significance to us. Notably, the draft Workplan mentions one area of work related to the effectiveness of REDD – Work program component 3: Discussion on effectiveness of multilateral REDD+ Initiatives. This will be one of the issues that will be dealt with in the announced workshop that will take place in Tianjin on October 2nd.

We recommend that in order to properly evaluate the effectiveness of REDD, a clear evaluation grid or terms of reference will have to first be developed, and made subject to public comment and input. We believe that the scope provided in the draft Workplan to assess effectiveness of REDD activities does not take into full consideration social and rights-related aspects that are key, especially in the readiness phase since they will form the architecture for any further activity and REDD implementation.

In this regard, we strongly recommend that any evaluation of REDD effectiveness will have to take into consideration the following criteria:

    Governance:

    Have readiness activities thus far supported reforms in the governance sector that would create an enabling institutional framework to protect the rights of indigenous peoples’ and local communities, secure land tenure and land rights, tackle illegal logging and other drivers of deforestation?

    Proper diagnosis of causes of deforestation:

    Have the readiness activities carried out thus far been based on a proper identification of the real drivers of deforestation, or have they excluded such drivers of deforestation such as large scale extractive activities and infrastructure development while putting the blame to traditional practices followed by indigenous peoples and local communities? Have readiness activities carried out thus far ensured the proper inclusion of policy measures and processes aimed at supporting livelihoods, values, worldviews, knowledge systems and initiatives which promote the integrity of forest ecosystems, and recognized the contribution that indigenous peoples conservation practices can provide?

    Non-carbon values of forests:

    Have the readiness activities thus far properly integrated non-carbon forest values (biodiversity, livelihoods, cultural connections, etc) in the elaboration and assessment of proper response measures? Is the protection of natural forests and biodiversity conservation prioritised?

    Respect for indigenous peoples rights:

    Have readiness processes thus far properly respected international obligations and instruments related to indigenous peoples, such as those contained in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples?

    Recognition of the role of indigenous peoples in forest conservation:

    Do multilateral REDD initiatives fully recognize the contribution of indigenous peoples’ and local communities traditional forest management and conservation methods as efficient and cost-effective ways to ensure the integrity of forest ecosystems? It should be noted that the role of indigenous peoples’ protected areas in mitigation and adaptation, and the relevance of indigenous peoples’ traditional knowledge, in capturing and nurturing the full spectrum of forest values, from cultural to biodiversity values, recently has been also recognized at the meetings of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA) of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

    Respect of the rights for adequate access to information, adequate access to participate in decision making processes, adequate access to justice and the Free and Prior Informed Consent:

    Have readiness processes and activities thus far respected the internationally recognized obligations to ensure proper access to information, public participation and access to justice in environmental matters. An evaluation of the effectiveness of REDD should also consider whether enablers have been put in place to ensure not only participation and consultation, but also respect for Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) of indigenous peoples in relation to the design, planning and the implementation of REDD readiness plans and activities affecting indigenous peoples

    Have REDD readiness processes and activities thus far envisaged tools to ensure the long term sustainability of consultation processes as well as capacity building activities to ensure the informed participation of affected parties such as indigenous peoples and local communities?

    Compliance with international social and environmental standards:

    We note that the Workplan envisages holding a specific workshop on experiences in the implementation of ‘safeguards’. However, we iterate that an essential part of the criterion assessing the effectiveness of readiness initiatives is compliance with international human rights and environmental standards. We therefore recommend that compliance with international human rights and environmental standards should be included among the criteria upon which to assess the effectiveness of REDD activities carried out thus far, in terms of effectiveness and impact on indigenous peoples and local communities.

Signed:

Centre d’accompagnement des Autochtones Pygmées et Minoritaires Vulnérables (CAMV), DRC
CARE International
Centre for Environment and Development (CED), Cameroon
Centre for Sustainable Rural Development (SRD), Vietnam
Centro de Planificación y Estudios Sociales (CEPLAES), Ecuador
Centro Humboldt, Nicaragua
Civic Response, Ghana
ClientEarth, UK
Community Forestry Conservation Network (MJUMITA), Tanzania
Dynamique des Groupes des Peuples Autochtones (DGPA), DRC
Ecoforestry Forum, PNG
Federation of Community Forestry Users (FECOFUN), Nepal
FERN, Belgium and UK
Forest Peoples Programme
Friends of the Earth (FOE), US
Fundacion Pachamana, Ecuador
Global Witness
Greenpeace International
Indonesian Civil Society Forum on Climate Justice
Maasai Community Outdoor Educators, Kenya
Maison de l’Enfant et de la Femme Pygmees (MEFP), CAR
Observatoire congolais des droits de l’Homme (OCDH), RoC
Organisation Concertée des Ecologistes et Amis de la Nature (OCEAN), DRC
Papua NGOs Forum, Indonesia
Practical Solution Nepal
Perkumpulan HuMa, Indonesia
Rainforest Foundation Norway
Rainforest Foundation UK
Rainforest Foundation US
Reseau des Communicateurs de l’Environnement (RCEN), DRC
Society for New Initiatives and Activities (SONIA), Italy
Sustainable Development Institute, Liberia
Sustainability Watch Network, Central America
Tanzania Forest Conservation Group


UPDATE – 13 September 2010: This post previously stated that 32 organisations had signed on to the letter. Two were accidentally omitted. They have now been added to the list of signatories.

Back to text ^^

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Leave a Reply

  1. The letter dated 07 September by the group of NGOs is useful and constructive. It proposes solutions which will no doubt be welcome to all working to ensure full participation.

    However, as is often the case on this website, the article is spoilt by the author trying to dramatize proceedings. So the meeting’s minutes are not yet ready, you sent two emails, and were politely told that when they are ready they will be made public and you will be the first to know. It is disappointing that things can take a longtime, but these are the products of people having a lot to do with finite resources. Not exactly a conspiracy is it?

  2. @Ed Walter – The solutions that the NGOs are presenting are solutions that they have been presenting for several years, and which have been documented on this website and elsewhere. The reason that they are asking these questions is that they are currently completely excluded from the Interim REDD+ Partnership.

    I’m not trying to dramatize anything. The Interim REDD+ Partnership is currently one of the main international fora for negotiations on REDD. It is extremely non-transparent. The first meeting in Paris was held behind closed doors. An NGO letter dated 12 April 2010 demanded that the Paris-Oslo process (as the Interim REDD+ Partnership was then called) be made “more transparent and participatory”. Almost five months later NGOs are demanding the same thing.

    The Interim REDD+ Partnership meeting in Brasilia took place in mid-July. The only information about what happened in that meeting came from NGOs. No official notes are available. The same goes for the meeting in Bonn. I agree that the lack of transparency may not be a conspiracy (but then I didn’t mention the word conspiracy). Let’s face it though, typing up the notes of a meeting and making them publicly available is very simple and does not take much time. If the Interim REDD+ Partnership wanted to be transparent it could easily do so.

  3. Ed Walter : “However, as is often the case on this website, the article is spoilt by the author trying to dramatize proceedings…”

    100%.

    Lang will go to any length to be the game-spoiler. He is least bothered about transparency and integrity. For him, what matters is notoriety. He sees himself as a ‘saviour’ without realising the madness of his actions.

    Indigenous communities are the biggest losers in his mad conquest to spoil any benefit that such communities stand to gain. A truly worthless and delusionary man.
    JM

  4. @Justin Muir – I’ll take this point by point. Please read my response above to Ed Walter. I’m not trying to dramatize anything. I am bothered about transparency and integrity, which is why I’m reporting that the Interim REDD+ Partnership is completely non-transparent.

    If what mattered to me were notoriety, surely I’d be doing something a little more high profile than running a website on REDD, wouldn’t I?

    I’m sorry if this is a disappointment to anyone, but I am not a saviour. I’d prefer people to think for themselves than follow a “saviour”.

    Please read the Anchorage Declaration. Indigenous peoples are asking for the following:

    “We uphold that the inherent and fundamental human rights and status of Indigenous Peoples, affirmed in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), must be fully recognized and respected in all decision-making processes and activities related to climate change.”

    On REDD, the Declaration states that,

    “All initiatives under Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) must secure the recognition and implementation of the human rights of Indigenous Peoples, including security of land tenure, ownership, recognition of land title according to traditional ways, uses and customary laws and the multiple benefits of forests for climate, ecosystems, and Peoples before taking any action.”

    Hence the concern about the Interim REDD+ Partneship negotiations taking place behind closed doors.

  5. I think that the comments Chris makes about the REDD+ partnership are completely valid, and neither the comments, nor Chris, nor this website are ‘worthless’.

    The fact that a major inter-govental meeting on REDD+ was held in July and the only information about what went on comes from NGOs (who were invited to the meeting with less than one week’s notice) is not a case of ‘busy people’.

    At every stage of this Partnership there has been virtually no engagement of stakeholders or rightsholders and this continues to get worse, rather than improve. This is the opposite to the demands made by indigenous peoples in the Anchorage Declaration, as Chris points out above, and it is not likely that REDD will benefit those who continue to be completely excluded from decision making processes.

    It is not only NGOs, but many governments who are increasingly concerned about the intransparant and chaotic nature in which the Partnership is progressing. Every other initiative on REDD has manged to establish some sort of stakeholder participation process (FCPF, UNREDD) and we expect the same from the Partnership.