REDD in Honduras: Still no agreement between Indigenous Peoples, Afro-Hondurans and the government

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On 8 February 2012, the Indigenous Peoples Confederation of Honduras (CONPAH) wrote a letter to the State Secretary of Natural Resources and Environment, about the lack of consultation relating to the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility in Honduras. Six months later, the problems have still not been resolved.

CONPAH has now written another letter, addressed to Benoit Bosquet, Coordinator of the FCPF, that explains that although a series of meetings has taken place between CONPAH and representatives of the Honduran Government there is still no agreement in the REDD+ process between Indigenous Peoples, Afro-Hondurans and the government. CONPAH is looking for an agreement that will guarantee “the full respect and exercise of our rights in the phase of preparation, implementation, and monitoring and evaluation of REDD+ in Honduras”.

Meanwhile the government “continues to carry our non-consulted actions on REDD+”, including giving their approval for Rainforest Alliance to conduct a baseline study in the Mosquitia region. The government is also expanding the agrofuels sector (palm oil, sugar cane and sunflower plantations) and planning hydroelectric dams that will affect the Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve.

The letter is posted in full below and is available in Spanish on the FCPF website (pdf file 537.9 kB).

Tegucigalpa, MDC August 21, 2012

Dr. BENOIT BOSQUET
Coordinator, Forest Carbon Partnership Fund (FCPF)
World Bank Environmental Department
Washington, D.C., USA

RE: Still no agreement between indigenous peoples and Afro-Hondurans and the Government in REDD+ Honduras processes

Dear Dr. Bosquet,

As you are aware, at the start of this year, we the Indigenous Peoples and Afro-Hondurans making up the Confederation of Autochthonous Peoples (Confederación de Pueblos Autóctonos de Honduras-CONPAH), were surprised to learn that the Government of Honduras had presented the R-PP document to the World Bank PFCP you coordinate, with no type of consultation process much our Confederation to send a letter on February 18, 2012, to Dr. Rigoberto Cuellar, Minister of the Secretariat of State in the Offices of Natural Resources and Environment (SERNA), with a copy to you, in which we expressed our rejection of the process carried out in formulating and presenting the R-PP due to the absence of consultation, in noncompliance and infringement of the rights guaranteed in multiple international instruments as procedures and safeguards required by the FCPF itself. Weeks later, we learned of the recommendations issued by the FCPF-contracted TAP, which unfortunately failed to present adequately the binding nature of compliance with our rights and with safeguards, focusing instead on other issues. We would like to believe that the omission was not deliberate, as we would not want to think that the FCPF is not committed to full respect and exercise our rights.

AS a result of the letter we sent to Minister Cuellar, at the end of February he recognized that the document had been sent without being consulted or obtaining the FPIC of our peoples. He also extended an invitation to begin a process of dialogue and seek understandings to guarantee full and effective participation of indigenous and Afro-Honduran populations linked with our confederation. On May 18 of this year we held the first meeting for convergence and dialogue between CONPAH and its federations with the representation of the Honduran Government, headed by Minister Cuellar. To date four such meetings have been held between the parties and we formed commissions, one political and one technical; the latter has begin to include some of our concerns in the draft R-PP document. Despite efforts on our part, it has still not been possible to reach a political agreement with the Government of Honduras guaranteeing the full respect and exercise of our rights in the phase of preparation, implementation, and monitoring and evaluation of REDD+ in Honduras.

It should be mentioned that while we have maintained a dialogue with the Government, it has been observed that the Government continues to carry out non-consulted actions on REDD+ or related processes affecting our lands, territories and natural resources, including our forests, which in no way contributes to generating trust among the parties. As example, the Government of Honduras, through SERNA and the Forest Conservation Institute (Instituto deConservación Forestal (ICF) have given their endorsement for Rain Forest Alliance to conduct the baseline studz in the Mosquita region without a consultation enabling prior free and informed consent. In addition, SERNA has been disseminating the preliminary draft of the Mining and Hydrocarbons Law, thus far without including a consultation plan toward obtaining the FPIC of our peoples, very much despite the fact that the extractive industry is currently affecting and could intensify its impacts on territories and natural resources. The Honduran Government is moreover supporting the expansion of agro fuels (African palm, sugar cane and sunflower). Furthermore, with the justification of diversifying the energy matrix, the Government has given several of our rivers in concession to private and public companies for the construction of hydroelectic dams (e.g., Patuca III Hydroelectric Dam, which will not only step up the advance of the agricultural frontier toward the Mosquitia, but also compromise the integrity of the Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve, recognized as World Heritage by UNESCO and currently on the list of endangered sites.) All these public policies, programs or projects have been approved and are being executed without respect for our legitimate right to be consulted and ensuring FPIC. We likewise see these initiatives as being incoherent with the objectives of REDD+ because far from halting deforestation, they intensify it.

Within this context, we have pacted with the Government of Honduras that this R-PP document be presented to the FCPF on August 23rd under the understanding that it is still a draft document whose content and scope is still pending political agreement with the indigenous and Afro-Honduran peoples and organizations linked with CONPAH and that we would await TAP/FCPF recommendations, including those related to ensuring our rights in the preparation of REDD+. For the purpose of guaranteeing access and transparency of information, we ask that you send us a copy of the report generated by the TAP. We also wish to trust that in what remains of the year, it will be possible to continue dialogue with the Government of Honduras and negotiate a political agreement in which our rights are guaranteed.

In the hope that by March of next year the R-PP document will be finalized and all of the recommendations made by CONPAH and its federations will be included, we remain

Signature


PHOTO credit: Río Plátano by C. Wieder.

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