in Ecuador

Ecuador’s conflict between oil extraction, indigenous rights and REDD

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Last month, the Government of Ecuador announced a new round of oil concessions covering a total area of almost three million hectares of indigenous peoples’ land. The area includes the territories of indigenous peoples who are involved in the government’s Socio Bosque scheme.

Meanwhile, on 26-27 October 2012, the Ninth UN-REDD Programme Policy Board Meeting took place in Brazzaville, Democratic Republic of Congo. At the meeting, the Government of Ecuador presented a report about REDD in Ecuador. The government must have just forgotten to mention the oil concessions.

Leaders of the Shuar, Achuar, Shiwiar, Sápara and Kichwa indigenous peoples have rejected all oil industry activities on their lands. But the bidding process is planned to go ahead this month.

Indian Law Resources Center wrote to the co-chairs of the UN-REDD Programme Policy Board requesting that the Policy Board investigates “the impact of the oil and gas concession process on Socio Bosque, on the rights of indigenous peoples and on the objectives of the UN-REDD Programme”. The letter also requests that the Policy Board identifies concrete actions to be taken by UN-REDD and the Government of Ecuador to protect the human rights of indigenous peoples. The letter is below in English and Spanish.

The threat to Ecuador’s Indigenous Peoples and their forests is not REDD, it is the oil industry. But so far, neither UN-REDD nor Socio Bosque have managed to stop the oil concessions in the Ecuadorian Amazon. The question is whether UN-REDD or Socio Bosque can stop oil extraction and if so, how?

Ecuador is home to the Yasuní initiative, which is supposed to leave oil below the Yasuní National Park in return for US$3.6 billion – about half the value of the oil. But the money has not appeared. A recent article in Le Monde Diplomatique describes the project as “beset by difficulties”. Yasuní is now accepting money from corporations and has raised a total of US$200 million.

Indigenous organisations in Ecuador have also written letters protesting the oil concessions:

Sarayaku indigenous peoples have produced a “call to action” video to protect their territory from the oil industry and Amazon Watch has set up a petition to be sent to Ecuador’s President, Rafael Correa:

Indian Law Resource Center

 
October 26, 2012
 
Carola Borja
Under Secretary for Climate Change
Ministry of Environment, Ecuador
Co-Chair, UN-REDD Programme Policy Board
 
Ibrahim Thiaw
Director of the Division of Environmental Policy Implementation
UNEP
Co-Chair, UN-REDD Programme Policy Board
 
Dear Co-Chairs:
 
The Indian Law Resource Center is a non-profit law and advocacy organization established and directed by Indians of the Americas. We have consultative status with the United Nations and the Organization of American States, and we have been advocating for indigenous peoples’ rights to lands, territories and resources for over 30 years.
 
The purpose of this letter is to bring to your attention serious concerns brought to us by indigenous peoples in Ecuador, including those participating in Ecuador’s National REDD Program, Socio Bosque. We believe that this may be of interest to you in light of the fact that the Government of Ecuador is presenting its Semi-Annual 2012 Progress Report on Activities Implemented under the UN-REDD Programme Fund during this, the ninth session of the UNREDD Policy Board.
 
Note that the Government of Ecuador has been promoting petroleum activities in indigenous peoples’ lands associated with Socio Bosque. The Government announced this month the opening of the 11th Round of petroleum concessions which will open up close to three million hectares of indigenous peoples’ ancestral territory to development. The concession process involves the territories of indigenous peoples participating in Socio Bosque. The Sapara nation, for example, which possesses legally recognized land title and has included part of their territory in a contract with Socio Bosque, has seen their lands placed into concession blocks by the Government, to be auctioned next month without their consent. While the Sapara people have entered into a REDD contract with the Government of Ecuador to preserve their lands and biodiversity, the Government is now severely undermining that effort.
 
We have received troubling reports from indigenous nations and confederations in Ecuador that the petroleum concession process is going forward without indigenous peoples’ free, prior, and informed consent (see attached). In fact, various indigenous leaders have rejected any presence of petroleum activities on their territories, citing great risks to their rights and environmental integrity. Leaders have also criticized the recently passed Decree 1247, which establishes the protocol for free, prior and informed consultation in the licensing process, as failing to comply with international law, and for being developed without consultation of indigenous peoples.
 
These developments appear to constitute serious human rights violations, and they call into question the adequacy of protections for the rights of indigenous peoples in Ecuador’s National REDD Program, Socio Bosque. As you are aware, under REDD safeguards and related policies, UN-REDD, which is funding Ecuador’s National REDD Program, and FAO as the implementing agency, have an obligation to ensure that REDD projects are not contributing to violations of the rights of indigenous peoples.
 
We therefore respectfully request that the Policy Board in its oversight capacity undertake the following actions:
 
1) Thoroughly investigate the impact of the oil and gas concession process on Socio Bosque, on the rights of indigenous peoples, and on the objectives of the UN-REDD Programme.
 
2) Identify concrete actions to be taken by UN-REDD and the Government of Ecuador to ensure that the human rights of indigenous peoples, including rights to their lands, territories and resources, are fully protected, consistent with international law and relevant UN-REDD policies.
 
Sincerely,
 
Armstrong Wiggins
 
Armstrong Wiggins
Washington Office Director
Indian Law Resource Center
Tel: (202) 547-2800
Fax: (202) 547- 2803

 
CC:
UN-REDD Policy Board Indigenous Peoples Observers
Dr. Yemi Katerere, UN-REDD Secretariat Head
President of the Republic of Ecuador Rafael Correa
Minister Marcela Aguiñaga, Ministry of the Environment Ecuador
Minister Wilson Pastor, Ministry of Non-Renewable Natural Resources of Ecuador
Mr. Max Lascano, Manager of Socio Bosque Program
Mr. Diego Zorilla, UNDP Country Representative, Ecuador
Mr. Jorge Samaniego, FAO, Country office Representative, Ecuador
Mrs. Margarita Astralaga, UNEP/ROLAC Regional Director
Ms. Barbara Hess, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), Director
Ecuador Office
 

 

Indian Law Resource Center

 
26 de Octubre de 2012
 
Carola Borja
Subsecretaria de Cambio Climático
Ministerio de Ambiente
Co-Presidentes, Junta Normativa del Programa ONU-REDD
 
Ibrahim Thiaw
Director de la División de Implementación de Políticas Ambientales
Programa de las Naciones Unidas para el Medio Ambiente (PNUMA)
Co-Presidentes, Junta Normativa del Programa ONU-REDD
 
Distinguidos Co-Presidentes:
 
Indian Law Resource Center (Centro) es una organización de abogacía legal, sin fines de lucro, fundada y dirigida por abogados y expertos indígenas de las Américas. El Centro cuenta con estado consultivo ante Naciones Unidas y la Organización de Estados Americanos, y ha estado abocado a la defensa de los derechos de los pueblos indígenas a sus tierras, territorios y recursos por más de 30 años.
 
El propósito de esta carta es llamar su atención con respecto a serias preocupaciones puestas en nuestro conocimiento por los pueblos indígenas de Ecuador, incluyendo aquellos participando en Socio Bosque, el Programa Nacional REDD de Ecuador. Esto puede ser de vuestro interés, en tanto el Gobierno de Ecuador está presentando su Informe Semestral de 2012 sobre el avance de las actividades implementadas bajo el Fondo del Programa ONU-REDD en el marco de la actual sesión de la Junta Normativa del Programa ONU-REDD.
 
Nótese que Ecuador está promoviendo proyectos petroleros en tierras indígenas asociadas al propio Socio Bosque. En efecto, el Gobierno acaba de anunciar este mes la apertura de su undécima ronda de concesiones petroleras, la cual abre alrededor de tres millones de hectáreas de territorios ancestrales de los pueblos indígenas para el desarrollo. El proceso de concesión involucra los territorios de los pueblos indígenas participando en Socio Bosque. La Nación Sapara, por ejemplo, la cual tiene su territorio legalizado y ha acordado con Socio Bosque afectar parte de su territorio, se ha encontrado con sus tierras inmersas en bloques concedidos por el Gobierno para licitación el próximo mes sin su consentimiento. Si bien el pueblo Sapara ha acordado un contrato con el Gobierno para preservar sus tierras y biodiversidad, el mismo Gobierno está ahora minando seriamente ese esfuerzo.
 
Hemos recibido preocupantes informes de parte de naciones y confederaciones indígenas de Ecuador, las cuales indican que el proceso de concesión está avanzando sin el consentimiento libre, previo e informado de los pueblos indígenas (ver documento adjunto). De hecho, varios líderes indígenas han rechazado toda presencia de actividades petroleras en sus territorios, arguyendo serios riesgos a sus derechos e integridad ambiental. Además, los líderes han criticado el Decreto 1247 recientemente aprobado, el cual establece el protocolo de consultas libres, previas e informadas en el marco de los procesos de licencias, por cuanto no satisface estándares del derecho internacional y fue desarrollado sin consulta con los pueblos indígenas.
 
Estos acontecimientos parecen constituir serias violaciones de derechos humanos, y nos conducen a cuestionar la idoneidad de las medidas estatales de protección de los derechos de los pueblos indígenas en el marco de Socio Bosque, el Programa Nacional REDD de Ecuador. Como es de vuestro conocimiento, el Programa ONU-REDD, el cual está financiando el Programa Nacional REDD de Ecuador, y la agencia implementadora FAO, tienen la obligación de asegurar que los proyectos REDD no contribuyan a la violación de los derechos de los pueblos indígenas a la luz de las políticas y salvaguardias REDD.
 
Por lo expuesto, respetuosamente solicitamos que el Junta Normativa inste a la Secretaria en su rol supervisor del programa conjunto con Ecuador que adopte las siguientes medidas:
 
1. Investigue los impactos de los procesos de concesión de petróleo en perjuicio de Socio Bosque, de los derechos de los pueblos indígenas, y de los objetivos del Programa ONUREDD.
 
2. Identifique acciones concretas que el ONU-REDD y el Gobierno de Ecuador están tomando para asegurar que los derechos de los pueblos indígenas, incluyendo los derechos a sus tierras, territorios y recursos, sean plenamente protegidos en concordancia con estándares del derecho internacional y relevantes políticas de ONU-REDD.
 
Atentamente,
 
Armstrong Wiggins
 
Armstrong Wiggins
Director, Washington Office
Indian Law Resource Center
Tel: (202) 547-2800
Fax: (202) 547- 2803

 
CC:
Junta Normativa del Programa ONU-REDD Observadores Pueblos Indigenas
Dr. Yemi Katerere, ONU-REDD Secretariat Head
Presidente de la Republica del Ecuador Rafael Correa
Ministra Marcela Aguiñaga, Ministerio de Ambiente
Ministro Wilson Pastor, Ministerio de Recursos No Renovables
Sr. Max Lascano, Gerente Proyecto Socio Bosque
Sr. Diego Zorilla, Coordinador Residente Ecuador/Representante Residente de PNUD
Sr. Jorge Samaniego, Oficial a Cargo de FAO-Ecuador
Sra. Margarita Astralaga, Directora Regional Oficina Regional para América Latina y el Caribe (PNUMA)
Sra. Barbara Hess, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), Directora Oficina Ecuador
 

 

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  1. It is crucial to clarify that Ecuador’s SocioBosque, a national REDD-type program, is NOT an alternative to oil exploitation but rather is precisely designed to fork over the Amazon to the oil and mining industries. So, of course “the Government of Ecuador has been promoting petroleum activities in indigenous peoples’ lands associated with Socio Bosque.” SocioBosque’s real purpose is to do just that. SocioBosque is a green mask to trick indigenous communities into signing away their rights to their territories so that extractive industries can pillage them. The Director of SocioBosque admitted as much in this video interview.
    Max Lascano, Director of SocioBosque admits Oil and Mining is part of SocioBosque, May 10, 2012. Posted by Acción Ecológica 26/08/20
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dPvmqTVX04o
    Here is the English translation of the transcript.
    Max Lascano, Director of SocioBosque: Mining is part of the strategic resources of the State, of course. So with or without SocioBosque, mining activities could occur if they are priorities of the State. So, yes, if it is strategic decision of the State, it is possible that in a SocioBosque area, mining exploitation could occur.
    Interviewer: Or oil [exploitation]?
    Max Lascano: Yes, oil or mining.
    #
    Of course, the fact that Ecuador’s REDD-type SocioBosque serves to promote extractive industries is not an exception. REDD is a front for extractive industries throughout the world. Some of the most devastating extractive industries promote REDD and have REDD-type projects including mining monster Rio Tinto, British Petroleum (which trashed the Gulf of Mexico) Shell (infamous for causing genocide against the Ogoni People in the Niger Delta) and Chevron-Texaco (infamous for causing both genocide in and destruction of the Ecuadorian Amazon).
    It is time that once and for all, REDD be rejected as the perverse sham it is, whereby the worst extractive industries and climate criminals not only get permits to keep polluting and causing climate change, but also grab the lands and territories of Indigenous Peoples and local communities for more mining and oil exploitation. Enough is enough! No REDD! No SocioBosque! Hands off the Amazon!