On 7 December 2010, thousands of people in Cancun took part in Via Campesina’s International Day of Action for Climate Justice. In a press release Via Campesina announced that the protesters were opposed, among other things, to carbon markets and REDD. Not so, according to Environmental Defense Fund’s Chris Meyer.
In a post on EDF’s blog from Cancun Meyer claims that indigenous peoples were marching for rights, “not against reducing deforestation policies”.
Meyer’s “evidence” for this is a press release from what Meyer calls “the official indigenous peoples caucus”. The press release, from the International Indigenous Peoples Forum on Climate Change is dated 6 December 2010 and makes no mention of the march which took place the following day.
IIPFCC’s press release makes the following three demands:
- Full respect for our rights, including those contained in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
- Respect our right to Free Prior and Informed Consent.
- Recognition and protection for the traditional knowledge of indigenous peoples as a basis for the generation of effective solutions to climate change. Our strategies and local solutions based on traditional knowledge can provide real solutions to climate change.
The IIPFCC press release also demands that UNDRIPs is included in “All sections of the agreement to come out in Cancun, inter alia in the preamble section, Shared Vision, and in the REDD.”
EDF distorts the press release in an attempt to give the impression that IIPFCC supports REDD, on the somewhat shaky grounds that these demands have already been met. Taking each of the three points in turn:
- EDF notes that the reference to UNDRIPs is contained in an Annex on safeguards for REDD – IIPFCC is asking for it to be in the text itself.
- EDF points out that free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) is contained in UNDRIPs. That may well be enough for EDF, but as Meyer acknowledges, in a rare moment of honesty, “indigenous peoples would like to see it explicitly included.”
- On the third point, Meyer gives a fine example of EDF’s arrogance. He comments, “In a sense, they are saying ‘Work with us when you are designing REDD+ programs because we can make them better.’” But that’s not in any sense what IIPFCC states in its press release. It is pure fabrication by Meyer.
In fact, on the opening day of the UN negotiations in Cancun, IIPFCC produced a statement that makes clear their position on REDD and carbon trading:
Market-based mitigation strategies such as the Clean Development Mechanism and carbon offsets, including forest offsets and REDD, further threaten our human rights, including our right to free prior and informed consent among many others. Our land and territories, food sovereignty, bio-diversity, cultural practices and traditional life ways are being placed in further jeopardy, and we reject these false solutions.
When it was first posted, Meyer’s blog post was even more outrageous. It now includes the following correction:
A previous version of this post mentioned the indigenous peoples’ march was not in rejection of carbon markets, however the press release issued by the group does have language rejecting carbon markets.
The “language” from the International Indigenous Peoples Forum on Climate Change press release is as follows: “We also continue to reject the carbon market to be a false solution to climate change.” Which is a reasonably clear rejection of the financing mechanism for REDD that EDF is proposing.
But Chris Meyer’s worst lie is still there, towards the end of his blog post:
Back at today’s march, sure there were groups participating with an anti-REDD+ message – but they are not the majority.
Patrick Bond of the Centre for Civil Society at the University of KwaZulu-Natal took part in the march (REDD-Monitor was not there). “I was at the march,” he writes in a comment to Meyer’s blog post,
“and can testify that at least 1000 times I heard anti-REDD chants, and I saw at least 1000 anti-REDD tee-shirts, banners, signs, stickers and newspapers.
“I didn’t see or hear a single pro-REDD statement.”
Bond describes Meyer’s blog post as “the most embarrassingly inaccurate propaganda I’ve seen from EDF in quite a while.”
In an attempt to give some balance to EDF’s hopelessly biased report, here’s a short video from Democracy Now! about the Global Day of Action for Climate Justice in Cancun: