From November 18-20, 2008, over 30 indigenous peoples and civil society representatives from throughout the Congo Basin gathered in Kinshasa to discuss forests, climate change, and proposed mechanisms for reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD). We report below on the outcomes.
One of the principal objectives of the meeting was to reorient the forest-climate debate from its current focus on financing to those issues and actions that indigenous peoples in the Congo Basin believe are necessary to ensure effective protection of the forests and the communities that live in and depend on them.
Participants issued a declaration at the conclusion of the workshop. Their principal demands included the following:
• Indigenous peoples must participate fully in discussions regarding forest management, as well as in the implementation and benefits from REDD;
• The recognition and protection of the rights of forest-dependent communities must be the cornerstone of any REDD mechanism;
• REDD mechanisms must address the underlying causes of degradation and deforestation; and
• REDD must not replace reductions in industrial emissions but be additional to them.
Much of the carbon emissions from the Congo Basin region is caused by forest degradation, especially from commercial logging, rather than outright deforestation. (Photo: K. Horta).
The participants also denounced the lack of transparency and inadequate participation of forest-dependent communities in the multiple new initiatives designed to support REDD in the Congo Basin, including the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) and the United Nations’ REDD programme. They argued that REDD mechanisms should respect the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and provide support for legislative reforms necessary to secure the land rights of forest-dependent communities.
Civil society representatives from several Congo Basin countries will be in Poznan, Poland, from December 1-12, 2008, to convey these messages to governments gathered at the UNFCCC Conference of Parties.