Global Alliance of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities on Climate Change and Against REDD

Article by Hortencia Hidalgo, Autonomous Aymara Council, Chile

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During the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) COP-17 in Durban, South Africa, the voice of indigenous peoples and local communities against REDD was raised as the constitution of a Global Alliance was formed; representatives from the different regions of the world called for a moratorium on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+).

NO REDD!  Alliance of Indigenous Peoples and Local communities in Durban, 2011 (Photo © Rebecca Sommer)

NO REDD! Alliance of Indigenous Peoples and Local communities in Durban, 2011 (Photo © Rebecca Sommer)

The call for a moratorium is based on the precautionary principle which states that: “When any activity threatens to affect human health or the environment, precautionary measures should be adopted even if some cause-effect relationships are not scientifically established”. The moratorium demanded is based on implementing the precautionary principle in order to secure our rights, since most of the world’s forests remain in indigenous areas and territories.

REDD+ threatens the survival of forest dependent indigenous peoples and local communities and could result in the biggest land grab ever. We, the indigenous peoples, are having our rights violated as a result of REDD+ policy and program implementation, as well as suffering forced displacement, involuntary relocation, loss of land and territory, food sovereignty and food security, loss of traditional knowledge, and the absence of Free, Prior and Informed Consent as enshrined in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

We do not speak out about the safeguards set out in the Cancún agreements, since they do not establish legally binding obligations nor mechanisms able to guarantee our rights.

NO REDD! Alliance preparing for their press conference calling for a REDD moratorium (Photo © Rebecca Sommer)

NO REDD! Alliance preparing for press conference in Durban, 2011 - calling for a REDD moratorium (Photo © Rebecca Sommer)

REDD+ and the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) promote and privatize forests, trees and air through forest carbon trade and offsets, and the potential extension of these to include soils, agriculture, and, maybe even the oceans. This could jeopardize our relationship to what is sacred and undermine the rights of Pachamama (Mother Earth).

We denounce carbon markets, they will not stop climate change.

Carbon markets and REDD+ turn our territories and forests into carbon wastelands while those most responsible for the current climate crisis refuse to accept binding commitments to reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and continue to profit from their use of fossil fuels.

REDD+ promotes industrial tree plantations and could include genetically modified trees. Perverse incentives such as these are already increasing deforestation and the substitution of native forests with monocultures.

The future of humanity is in jeopardy as well as Mother Earth’s equilibrium, because fossil fuel usage continues to dominate, even though it is the main cause of today’s climate crisis. Every time that a community signs an agreement regarding REDD+ in a developing country, that provides credits for others to pollute; the project developers are being allowed to destroy the environment.

There are problems with the baselines used for calculations of how much deforestation has actually been prevented, and with leakage, permanence, monitoring, reporting and verification. But those in charge, both in the policy arena and in terms of designing specific project methodologies, cannot resolve those problems; REDD+ is undermining the climate change regime and violating the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities established by the UNFCCC.

NO REDD! Alliance press conference in Durban, 2011 (Photo©Rebecca Sommer)

NO REDD! Alliance press conference in Durban, 2011 (Photo©Rebecca Sommer)

During COP-17 we made an urgent call to the United Nations, the Human Rights Council, the High Commissioner for Indigenous Issues, the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, and human rights organizations, with respect to researching and reporting on violations caused by REDD+, and its policies and projects, as well as preparing reports, issuing recommendations and establishing preventative methods and reparations in order to guarantee the implementations of UNDRIP and other international measures.

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