On 8 July 2009, the Rights and Resources Initiative and Chatham House held a meeting on “Forests, Governance and Climate Change” at the Royal Society in London. Among the speakers was Marcus Colchester of the Forest Peoples Programme, who spoke about the importance of recognising rights in the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility.
His presentation, “Safeguarding Rights in the FCPF” is available here. Colchester makes a series of important points about the FCPF, starting with “Why rights matter” and how the World Bank is supposed to recognise those rights. The Bank has 10 safeguards, of which three are particularly relevant for REDD: Indigenous Peoples, Forests and Involuntary Resettlement.
Colchester notes that the World Bank is “seeking to channel funds for REDD”. The FCPF “initially ignored rights” and included no participation. However, the FCPF has issued a charter which provides certain guarantees on the recognition of rights, including the following:
The operation of the Facility, including implementation of activities under Grant Agreements and Emission Reduction Programs, shall: … Comply with the World Bank’s Operational Policies and Procedures, taking into account the need for effective participation of forest dependent indigenous peoples and forest dwellers in decisions that may affect them, respecting their rights under national law and applicable international obligations.
Clearly, according to its Charter, the FCPF has to comply with the World Bank’s safeguards. “When are the safeguards triggered?” Colchester asks, adding that at present this is a moving target. He outlines some of the surprises from the Participants Committee (the FCPF’s governing body) meeting in Montreux in June:
- R-PLANs have become R-Preparation Proposals
- Panama & Guyana ‘approved’, Indonesia on 10th-24th July on ‘no objection’ basis: before safeguards run through
- Due diligence now to follow ‘approval’
- No clarity about role of Technical Advisory Panel in assessing adequacy of safeguard reviews: not clear who signs off that due diligence is adequate
Colchester then outlines the situation in the three countries whose R-Plans were under consideration at the Montreux meeting: Guyana, Panama and Indonesia.
In Guyana, Colchester notes that Amerindians insist that the R-Plan has left them out. They are demanding proper consultation and recognition of customary areas. Meanwhile, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (UN CERD) has criticised the Amerindian Act of 2006 as discriminatory. Two World Bank projects in Guyana have been suspended because the government could not comply with the Bank’s safeguards.
In Panama, a current World Bank land titling project is subject to an Inspection Panel claim over poor compliance with Bank safeguards. So far, consultation with Indigenous Peoples in Panama has been “unfocused” and fails to address land rights, Colchester notes. Indigenous Peoples are demanding recognition of their rights and effective involvement in REDD plans and implementation. They admit that they are unsure about REDD.
Conflicts, illegal logging and mis-management are prevalent in Indonesia. Tens of millions of forest residents are without rights in “State Forest Lands”. In 2008, UN CERD criticised the government for “not recognising customary rights, taking land in ‘national interest’ without fair process, denying right to consent.” And UN CERD specifically demanded revision of Indonesia’s REDD regulation, but the government passed the law without correction. The Indonesian Indigenous Peoples Organisation AMAN has appealed to the FCPF not to approve the current R-Plan.
Colchester concludes that the “Importance of securing rights has been played down and safeguards process allowed to drift.” There is a major risk that the speed with which FCPF is going ahead may undermine REDD. “FCPF carelessness risks triggering World Bank Inspection Panel claims and has already caused national level controversy and anxiety,” Colchester comments. Finally, he points out that the UK government is one of the main funders of FCPF and has a key role “to argue for due diligence and ensure a fair process.”