in Vietnam

“Do you want your forest to be conserved?” Free, Prior and Informed Consent in Vietnam

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In March 2009, the UN-REDD Programme Policy Board approved US$4.4 million for Viet Nam’s National UN-REDD Programme. UN-REDD chose two districts in Lam Dong, – Di Linh and Lam Ha – to pilot REDD+ in Vietnam. From January to June 2010, the programme carried out a process of Free, Prior and Informed Consent in the two districts. There are at least two versions of what actually took place.

The first version is the official version, as documented in a video produced by the UN-REDD Vietnam programme. According to this version, the villagers were delighted to learn about climate change and REDD and happily gave their consent. Here’s an extract from the voice over, towards the end of the video:

“A new day begins with the echoes of gongs which sounded over high mountains and jungles. This wonderful sound seemed to be magnified in the atmosphere of green forest with vitality. This enjoyment is shared with the villagers’ radiant smiles as they have belief in REDD implementation and look forward to the day that REDD payment mechanisms will be officially implemented in Vietnam.”


UPDATE – 18 March 2017: The video has been removed from YouTube.


The Center for People and Forests (RECOFTC) was hired to produce an evaluation and verification of the FPIC process in Lam Dong (pdf file 673.2 KB). The Executive Summary of RECOFTC’s report concludes that

Most FPIC principles were adhered to and guidelines on how to undertake E&V were followed with some modifications. Three major issues were highlighted by the mission:

  • Some information could not be provided to local people: Although the UN-REDD Viet Nam Programme attempted to communicate with local people, some information could not be provided, particularly the risks and costs associated with the program.
  • Lack of time for internal discussion in the village: The timeframe of the village meetings was too short (two hours) to fully inform the villagers about the issues introduced by the facilitation team.
  • Lack of a grievance and review mechanism: There was no mechanism, independent of the FPIC team, to review any complaint made by local people.

In fact, RECOFTC’s report is critical of the FPIC process that was carried out in Lam Dong province. It includes, for example, a time-line for the “FPIC Process” in Thon 1 Village, one of the villages in Lam Ha District. The meeting started at 3:10pm. Climate change was explained until 3:45 pm. There then followed 45 minutes explaining REDD. At 4:30 pm came an “Introduction about the need to vote for UN-REDD.” Twelve minutes later villagers voted by secret ballot. That took three minutes. Villagers received UN-REDD caps and raincoats, voting results were announced and at 4:52 pm UN-REDD took a group photo and the “FPIC process” was finished.

Another description of the FPIC process in Lam Dong comes from a report published by Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact in December 2010. The report, titled, “REDD+ Implementation in Asia and the Concerns of Indigenous Peoples,” (pdf file 43.0 MB) provides an interesting overview of REDD and indigenous peoples in Asia. The section on REDD in Vietnam was written by the Center for Sustainable Development in the Mountainous Areas (CSDM). (Luong Thi Truong, of the Center for Sustainable Development in the Mountainous Areas, was part of the team that wrote the RECOFTC FPIC evaluation and verification report.)

On FPIC, CSDM wrote the following:

While it is very commendable on the part of the government of Vietnam and UN-REDD to have taken the initiative to pilot the implementation of FPIC among ethnic minorities, it is also important to draw the lessons from this experience as a guide to further FPIC processes not only in Vietnam but also to other REDD+ countries. It should be noted that the FPIC process was conducted in a very short period of time, and the key question asked was very general as “do you want your forest to be conserved?” without further explanation on the implications of REDD+ to their livelihoods, land tenure as well as on their views on benefit sharing, resource management, culture and identity among others. Inspite of the limitations in the piloting of FPIC, it nevertheless demonstrates the goodwill of both the government of Vietnam and UN-REDD to engage with ethnic minorities at least in the pilot areas of REDD+. Most of those who participated in this process said it was the first time for them to be involved in any consultation process.

In other words, villagers were asked whether they wanted their forest to be conserved, to which they answered “yes.” CSDM continues:

In general, most of the ethnic minorities know very little about climate change and almost nothing about REDD+. Even in the two districts of Lam Ha and Di Linh, REDD+ still unclear to them, although UN-REDD teams have explained these concepts during FPIC processes.

 

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  1. In August 2010, UN-REDD produced a report about the FPIC process in Vietnam, published after the RECOFTC evaluation report: “Applying the Principle of Free, Prior and Informed Consent in the UN-REDD Programme in Viet Nam” (pdf file 3.3 MB).

    Pages 45-49, “Conclusions and Implications for Conducting FPIC for REDD+,”
    are particularly interesting. Anything to do with FPIC and REDD is learning by doing: “Without a lot of previous experience on which to design the process, the UN-REDD Programme made a conscious decision to try to implement FPIC, honouring the well-established principles as far as was possible, and accepting that the process would not be perfect, and errors would be made.”

    If UN-REDD is being honest and attempting to make the process at least somewhat transparent, why does the UN-REDD video on FPIC in Vietnam make no mention of the problems encountered?

    In its August 2010 report, UN-REDD confirms that:

    The independent evaluation revealed that villagers often were not clear about what they had agreed to. Most believed that they were agreeing to the concept of forest conservation – which is certainly part of the implications of REDD+, but not the whole story.

    Let’s think about carbon trading for a moment. UN-REDD is promoting a version of REDD that will be financed by carbon trading (despite the fact that this has not yet been agreed in the UNFCCC negotiations on REDD). On its website, UN-REDD explains REDD as follows:

    REDD strategies aim to make forests more valuable standing than they would be cut down, by creating a financial value for the carbon stored in trees. Once this carbon is assessed and quantified, the final phase of REDD involves developed countries paying developing countries carbon offsets for their standing forests.

    Several questions arise from this:

    * Have villagers in Di Linh and Lam Ha districts in Lam Dong province understood that by agreeing to REDD, they are agreeing to trade some of the carbon stored in their forests against continued emissions by rich countries?

    * And that they can only trade the carbon stored in the trees that would have been cut down had the UN-REDD programme not arrived in their village and started talking about REDD – i.e. the avoided deforestation?

    * And that any income they might receive through a REDD mechanism will be dependent on the vagaries of an as yet non-existent global market for forest carbon?

    * And that the question of who owns the carbon stored in the trees is, as yet, unresolved?

    Neither the RECOFTC evaluation report, nor the UN-REDD August 2010 discuss carbon trading.

  2. Chris,

    There is only one question that arises from this style of completing an FPIC process on REDD with a local community WITHIN TWO HOURS.
    And that is:
    How can anyone with any common sense take such a process serious?

    Peter Dam
    Coordinator PES Trial Project
    FORCERT: Forest Management & Product Certification Service
    Papua New Guinea

  3. * Have villagers in Di Linh and Lam Ha districts in Lam Dong province understood that by agreeing to REDD, they are agreeing to trade some of the carbon stored in their forests against continued emissions by rich countries?
    # The people have been told this through workshop consultations how can they understand everything, what can they agree with?
    * And that they can only trade the carbon stored in the trees that would have been cut down had the UN-REDD programme not arrived in their village and started talking about REDD – i.e. the avoided deforestation?
    # Logging companies have been raping the forests of Cambodia for some time now , but most certainly now , loggers are licking their lips over the species of quality of timber in Vietnam.What was supposed to be logged and what could or is being logged are 3 different stories.Probably the first scenario of ripping the Vietnam off.
    * And that any income they might receive through a REDD mechanism will be dependent on the vagaries of an as yet non-existent global market for forest carbon?
    #UNFCCC Redd in Vietnam will be a US aid program , controlled by the USA( there is nothing else to add)
    * And that the question of who owns the carbon stored in the trees is, as yet, unresolved?
    #Of course it is unresolved with the forest people,but it is resolved with the USA , Vietnam is a communist country!
    Neither the RECOFTC evaluation report, nor the UN-REDD August 2010 discuss carbon trading.
    #Do you really want to know why?
    I can give you a hint, REDD+ in Vietnam will never be transparent

  4. It works like this rich countries control land tenure of forest countries.
    REDD+ then allows a vehicle to create smoke and mirrors with forest nations environments.
    Meanwhile the rich countries go to work securing a carbon (price or tax)in their countries which say is 36 US dollars.
    The aid monies previously paid or pledged is then packaged into redd+ scenario with a very low whole sale price of emissions per tonne.
    Say at a cost to the rich countries of around 1.20 US per tonne of emissions.
    The rich countries then are able to pay for the aid and redd+ and still make a huge profit at the expense of the forest people and their governments, but in Vietnam there is no say for the people because of the communist polices.
    Mean while back at the ranch the rich countries can then make International public announcements to support their actions and then pat themselves on the back at the expense of their own citizens