in Guyana, Indonesia, Panama

Marcus Colchester on “Safeguarding Rights in the FCPF”

Marcus Colchester on Safeguarding Rights in the FCPF

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.”

Leave a Reply

  1. Response to REDD Monitor Article (Safeguarding Rights in the FCPF) of 8th July, 2009

    The invited Presentation by Marcus Colchester “Safeguarding Rights in the FCPF”, made at the Rights and Resources Initiative and Chatham House meeting in London on 8th July, 2009 does not give a true representation of the tremendous efforts that have been made by Guyana in advancing readiness efforts to target a forest carbon financing mechanism under the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (WB FCPF).

    Colchester representing the Forest Peoples’ Programme (FPP), should have addressed issues such as how these new initiatives could assist Indigenous Peoples in advancing their development, improving their livelihoods, and making informed choices based on a rationale and inclusive approach. Predictably, however, given the FPP’s previous track record of an anti-development agenda, the presentation criticizes the efforts towards readiness aimed at targeting positive support at both the national and the community levels.

    Colchester also appears to be unfamiliar with, and has little appreciation regarding the scientific base and other accepted requirements that are necessary to formulate a forest carbon financing mechanism.

    It is incorrect to contend that the FCPF, and by extension Guyana, has ignored compliance with key World Bank Safeguards. Apart from indicating an ignorance of the Readiness activities, this is an obvious attempt to promote the FPP’s anti development agenda in indigenous communities. Colchester deliberately does not mention the fact that an entire component of the Readiness Preparation Proposal (RPP) is dedicated to consultation and outreach. He also willfully neglects to point out that another component of the proposal outlines how Guyana will conduct a Social and Environmental Impact Assessment.

    Colchester is also very misleading when he focuses on the RPP in isolation and never mentions that it is one component of an overall development strategy referred to as the draft Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS). This was obviously a deliberate decision by Colchester because had he linked the RPP to the LCDS, then his allegations that there was no consultation with the indigenous peoples would have been baseless.

    For example, the consultation process for the draft LCDS has been recognized internationally and nationally as being very transparent, extensive, fully participatory and inclusive of all stakeholder groups. Residents of at least 141 Indigenous Communities were consulted, in addition to other Guyanese stakeholders. The process was also praised for having independent monitors to oversee the process, and feedback mechanisms that were very accessible and user friendly.

    Additionally, the Government invited all of the Indigenous NGO’s to nominate two (2) representatives each to be members of the Multi Stakeholder Steering Committee which met weekly under the Chairmanship of His Excellency President Jadgeo to review the consultative process and feedback received. Unfortunately, one NGO indicated that it did not have the time to participate.
    It is therefore unacceptable for Colchester to say that the RPLAN has left out the Amerindians, and that there was poor consultation.

    Colchester also seems not to understand that the purpose of the RPP is to prepare Guyana to target incentives from a forest carbon scheme. The RPP does not in any way seek to prescribe what communities would be mandated to do. There was no mention in Colchester’s presentation of the WB visits (as recent as July 2009) to continue the process of safeguards testing and so facilitate moving to the next stage in the process. The entire purpose of the RPP is misconstrued by Colchester and he admits surprise in decisions taken in the process, on account of this.
    Colchester clearly does not understand the role of the Technical Advisory Panel (TAP) and the requirements of various stages of the preparation process. The TAP was meant to be an advisory body for the Participants’ Committee and the FCPF. In summarizing Guyana’s RPP assessment, the TAP concluded that much of this work needs to be done in the actual preparation phase and not beforehand.

    Colchester on the one hand advocates for Indigenous Peoples in Guyana to be given a right to choose for themselves whether they get involved or not, and on the same note faults the consultation process in giving communities an “opt in” mechanism. This makes little sense as Colchester needs to decide whether he is advocating for free, prior and informed consent or mandatory imposition on communities. Claims that Amerindians on the whole, reject the RPP are simply manufactured and false.

    Colchester’s assertion that the Amerindian Act of 2006 is giving less security and less control to Amerindians over their titled lands is simply ridiculous. The Act gives total jurisdiction to communities occupying titled lands. Additionally, all claims in reference to titling of untitled lands and extension of titled lands are being addressed in a timely manner via a transparent and fully participatory process being led by the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs and the respective Community.

    Guyana’s Readiness Preparation activities are timely and well planned out and will continue to be executed in a fully consultative manner. Weak attempts to diminish these efforts do not in any way advance development of Indigenous peoples’ but instead are masked attempts to derail a constructive process that will bring significant potential benefits to a developing country and to its Indigenous Peoples.

    Guyana sincerely hopes that Mr Colchester will seek clarifications on issues that he is unsure or not familiar with so that he can be factual in future presentations.
    Accurate information can be obtained from the following website:

    In closing, the Guyana Forestry Commission wishes to remind Mr Colchester of a promise he made that he would publicly praise Guyana if an absolute grant was given to the Wai Wai Amerindian community; and to inform him that an absolute grant has been given.

    We look forward to you keeping your promise.