Will Germany insist on free, prior informed consent in the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility?

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Will Germany insist on free, prior informed consent in the World Bank's Forest Carbon Partnership Facility?

Last year, the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) adopted a new Human Rights Policy. The new policy is mandatory and includes a requirement for free, prior and informed consent for indigenous peoples and local communities.

Germany’s human rights policy can be downloaded here (pdf file, 587.3 kB). The section of the policy on indigenous peoples is worth quoting at length:

“Protecting the human rights of indigenous people on all continents remains a challenge for the future. In most countries, indigenous people are still largely excluded from political, economic and cultural life. Their continued exclusion curtails not only their development prospects but also harbours conflict potential with implications for political stability. The active participation of indigenous peoples in public life is one of the rights enshrined in ILO Convention No. 169 and is essential for the realisation of their human rights. Conflicts over natural resources can only be resolved and sustainable development achieved if indigenous peoples are directly involved in decisions which affect them. The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples defines standards to protect their individual and collective rights. In order to ensure that programmes and projects have no adverse effects on indigenous peoples (“do no harm” principle) and to improve their conditions of life, the principle of free, prior and informed consent must be adhered to in the planning of measures which affect indigenous peoples and local communities.”

Germany’s new policy is stronger than the standards required by other aid agencies, including the World Bank. The policy mentions this specifically:

“The World Bank, the IMF and the regional development banks consider an explicit human rights-based approach to be problematical, but these institutions are now increasingly turning their attention to the issue of human rights compliance as well. The BMZ endorses, promotes and advocates for this approach.”

But on the issue of free, prior and informed consent there is a clear difference between Germany’s policy and that of the World Bank. In its policy on indigenous peoples, the World Bank requires only free, prior and informed consultation and “broad community support for the project”. In an interview with REDD-Monitor, the World Bank in Indonesia explained that,

“World Bank projects that affect Indigenous Peoples will not be approved unless it is found that there has been free, prior and informed consultation of the Indigenous Peoples leading to their broad community support.”

The Bank even argues that free, prior and informed consent “does not yet have a universally accepted definition”.

Nevertheless, Germany continues to fund the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility. Shortly after the UN climate meeting in Durban last year, Germany committed a further €30 million to the FCPF. Germany has given more money than any other country to the FCPF, a total of €84 million (about US$110 million).

In a press release announcing the commitment of funds, Germany’s Minister of Economic Cooperation and Development, Dirk Niebel, said that,

“Germany supports countries that actively and through their own efforts are taking this path towards climate protection. The FCPF is such an important instrument, because developing countries, donor countries, private business, indigenous peoples and civil society organizations cooperate on designing solutions for the protection of forests.”

Unfortunately, Niebel made no mention of the human rights of the indigenous peoples and local communities who are on the receiving end of the FCPF.


PHOTO Credit: AIPP – UNDRIP info poster.

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