On 11 March 2010, an international conference took place in Paris, hosted by French President Nicolas Sarkozy: the International Conference on the Major Forest Basins. While 64 nations took part in the conference, Indigenous Peoples were not invited.
A press release from the Forest Peoples Programme denounces the lack of transparency and participation in the discussions.
The Paris conference was widely hailed as a success, with a further US$1 billion committed. The Paris meeting is to be followed by a meeting in Oslo in May. “The REDD+ Partnership process must build real momentum for countries to move ahead with REDD+,” WWF Forest Carbon Initiative Leader Chris Elliott said in a statement. “It is important this remains an open and inclusive process.” Elliott seems oblivious to the fact that the process is not even remotely “open and inclusive”.
The risks posed by REDD for Indigenous Peoples are huge. Gabon’s environment minister, Martin Mabala, inadvertently revealed the risks the day before the Paris meeting. Associated Press reported him as saying that the world and indigenous populations need to view the forest differently. “Forests are a planetary asset and no longer the concern of individual countries,” Mabala said. “This is the business of all humanity.” In this view, the rights of Indigenous Peoples and local communities are rendered invisible by the world’s need for forests as stores of carbon.
According to Associated Press:
The 64 nations agreed to create a core structure of some 10 countries to work on the mechanics of equitably distributing funds and other issues. The idea is to arrive at the U.N. climate talks in Cancun, Mexico, in December with a concrete plan devoted specifically to the critical issue of deforestation.
Norway’s Environment Minister, Erik Solheim, explained the idea of the French-Norwegian partnership on forests to Reuters: “The idea is to establish a partnership of everyone who wants to be included” in safeguarding forests. “It will be open to everyone, even if you don’t contribute one single dollar, even if you don’t have a single tree,” he said.
Indigenous Peoples groups are demanding to be involved in this process. But the principle of free, prior and informed consent has already been stifled behind the closed doors of the Paris conference.
PRESS RELEASE – March 19, 2010
INDIGENOUS PEOPLES DENOUNCE LACK OF TRANSPARENCY AND PARTICIPATION IN FRENCH-NORWEGIAN PARTNERSHIP ON FORESTS AND CLIMATE DISCUSSIONS.
INDIGENOUS peoples were excluded when forest countries and donor governments met in Paris on March 11, 2010 to discuss a major forests and climate initiative. The parties met under an invitation from the French and Norwegian governments to start developing governance structures for the 3.5 billion USD Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) readiness funds announced in Copenhagen at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) COP15 last December. The UNFCCC negotiations are still far from delivering final commitments in full respect of indigenous peoples’rights.
“Failure to include indigenous peoples from the very inception of the French-Norwegian initiative is unacceptable. The lock-out from the Paris meeting is further evidence of the urgency to ensure full and effective participation of indigenous peoples at all levels of negotiations and discussions on issues related to their land, resources and territories and to their rights as recognized by international legal agreements and instruments such as the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP)” said Mina Setra, an indigenous representative from The Alliance of Archipelagic Indigenous People (AMAN), Indonesia.
“Lack of proper engagement and consultation with indigenous peoples is not only confined to international processes but is also a common feature of key REDD processes at the national level. We therefore urge governments to ensure that any architecture under discussion to administer REDD readiness funds be rights-based, accountable, transparent and participatory” said Pacifique Mukumba Isumbisho from CAMV (Support Center for Indigenous Pygmies and Vulnerable Minorities), Democratic Republic of Congo.
Forest Peoples Programme (FPP) continues to work with the broader indigenous peoples coalitions to ensure that any decision on interim REDD financing will be anchored to the recognition of Indigenous Peoples’ rights, such as the right to access to information, consultation and participation, the right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) and the right to their land and forests.
FPP calls on the Norwegian government to ensure that indigenous peoples are fully involved and consulted in the process leading up to the meeting to be held in Oslo in May when heads of government and heads of state are expected to approve the REDD partnership proposal.
For further information please contact:
Francesco Martone firstname.lastname@example.org
Senior Policy Advisor
Forest Peoples Programme