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Civil Society excluded from Interim REDD+ Partnership meeting in Brasilia

Civil Society excluded from Interim REDD+ Partnership meeting in BrasiliaOn 14-15 July 2010, a meeting of the Interim REDD+ Partnership took place in Brasilia. The co-chairs of the Partnership sent an invitation dated 6 July 2010 (pdf file 48.1 KB) to an apparently randomly selected list of development and environment NGOs, businesses and research organisations. The email stated that there was space in the meeting for 12 organisations to send 2 people.

Within a week, in other words, these organisations were supposed to find out who had been invited and agree a small number of people who would attend the meeting. It’s difficult to imagine a better way of excluding civil society from the meeting apart from holding it in complete secrecy – which is precisely what happened with the first meeting, in Paris, in March 2010. In April, a group of NGOs produced a statement criticising the lack of transparency and participation in the Paris-Oslo process, which led to the Interim REDD+ Partnership. The Norwegian government responded, with a statement assuring that from now on civil society would be included in the process.

Three letters to the Interim REDD+ Partnership about the lack of transparency and participation in the Brasilia meeting are posted below. The first is from 39* national and international NGOs and civil society networks, the second from the Climate Action Network International (a network of 500 NGOs) and the third from WWF.

Federica Bietta
Special Advisor on Climate Change
Office of the Prime Minister
Papua New Guinea

Yoshiko Kijima
Senior Negotiator for Climate Change
Ministry of Foreign Affairs

13 July 2010

Dear Chairs of the Interim REDD+ Partnership,

The undersigned organisations would like to express their strong objection to the terms on which civil society has been asked, through an invitation received on 7 July 2010, to participate in the upcoming meeting of the Interim REDD+ Partnership to be held on 14-15 July 2010 in Brasilia, Brazil. The extremely short advance notice given to civil society and the non-transparent process leading up to the meeting are in violation of the spirit and letter of the REDD+ Partnership Agreement and represent a serious false start for the Partnership.

The request that global civil society select twelve representative organisations “based on geographical distribution” and arrange for travel to Brasilia in one week is unrealistic and does not represent a genuine opportunity for most organisations, especially those from the South, to participate. The alternative suggestion provided by the co-chairs – that civil society stakeholders submit their views by email – is clearly not an acceptable substitute for meaningful participation in the decision making process. This calls into question the sincerity of the co-chairs and Partners in upholding the principles of the REDD+ Partnership Agreement, particularly concerning the inclusion of representatives of civil society and indigenous peoples in the process.

The Partners agreed to “promote inclusiveness and transparency through the participation of a representative group of stakeholders” when they signed the REDD+ Partnership Agreement. We do not believe the process in the lead up to the meeting in Brasilia has been consistent with this commitment. For this reason, and the logistical impossibility of performing the requested selection process and making travel arrangements on such short notice, we do not plan to attend or participate in the Brasilia meeting.

A genuine commitment to inclusiveness is the only way to build trust and support for the work of the Partnership. We therefore urge the Partners to forgo making any substantive decisions regarding the Partnership work program or other policies at the Brasilia meeting, and to defer such decisions until a meeting with adequate stakeholder representation can be organised. We believe that in the absence of meaningful participation by civil society and indigenous peoples, the meeting in Brasilia lacks legitimacy, and any decisions made would represent a violation of the principle of inclusiveness that was committed to in the REDD+ Partnership Agreement.

Yours sincerely,

Alianza Nicaraguense frente al Cambio Climático, Nicaragua
Arbeitsgemeinschaft Regenwald und Artenschutz (ARA), Germany
Australian Orangutan Project, Australia
Bank Information Center, USA
CARE International
Le Centre d’Accompagnement des Autochtones Pygmées et Minoritaires Vulnérables (CAMV), DRC
Centro de Planifación y Estudios Sociales (CEPLAES), Ecuador
Centro Humboldt, Nicaragua
ClientEarth, UK
Environmental Investigation Agency, USA
Federation of Community Forestry Users (FECOFUN), Nepal
FERN, Belgium and UK
Friends of the Earth US
Friends of the Earth International
Fundación del Río, Nicaragua
Global Witness, UK
Greenpeace International
Humane Society International, Australia
Kenya Young Greens, Kenya
Maasai Community Outdoor Educators, Kenya
National Forum for Advocacy, Nepal
Nepenthes, Denmark
Ona Keto Peoples Foundation Inc, Papua New Guinea
Organisation Concertée des Ecologistes et Amis de Nature (OCEAN), DRC
Partners with Melanesians Inc, Papua New Guinea
PNG Ecoforestry Forum, Papua New Guinea
Pro Regenwald, Germany
Rainforest Action Network, USA
Rainforest Foundation Norway
Rainforest Foundation US
Rainforest Foundation UK
Reseau des Communicateurs de l’Environnment (RCEN), DRC
SONIA, Italy
Sustainable Development Institute, Liberia
Sustainability Watch Network – Central America
SustainUS, USA
Tebtebba, Philippines
The Wilderness Society, Australia
Ugewald, Germany

Climate Action Network – International

13 July, 2010

Dear Chairs of the Interim REDD+ Partnership, Federica Bietta, Special Advisor on Climate Change, Papua New Guinea and, Yoshiko Kijima, Senior Negotiator on Climate Change, Japan

As the world’s largest coalition of global civil society organizations working for ambitious global action on climate change, the Climate Action Network – International and its 500 member organizations shares your views on the importance of a REDD+ initiative that has as its main goal to ensure effective and sustainable REDD+ actions over the next few years.

However, the engagement of civil society in this process has been inadequate and confusing since the beginning and, consequently, a motive for serious criticism. If a REDD+ Partnership is to succeed, both on the ground in developing countries, and globally, it must feature the active participation of civil society. The views of the people and communities around the world to be affected by REDD+ must both inform the Partnership process and be reflected in the ultimate design and implementation of REDD+ mechanisms.

Just one week before the REDD+ Partnership meeting in Brazilia on 14 and 15 july, civil society organizations were invited to select 12 organizations and two representatives from each to participate in that meeting and send suggestions. This short notice is simply not acceptable. The REDD+ Partnership must clarify and put into practice a clear, credible and coherent policy for civil society participation. In light of this, CAN will not participate formally in the meeting, but may have members who attend and take notes. We also urge you and the other Partners in this effort to not finalize any decisions on the Partnership at the Brazil meeting.

As always we are entirely at your disposal to work with you on finding the best solution for this matter so crucial to the success of the Partnership.

With best regards,

David Turnbull
Executive Director
Climate Action Network

John Lanchbery
Morrow Gaines Campbell III
CAN REDD+ Working Group

WWF Forest Carbon Initiative

08 July 2010

Subject: Civil Society Representation at REDD+ Partnership Meeting, Brazil 14-15

Dear participants in the REDD+ Partnership,

The next REDD+ Partnership meeting will take place in Brazil on 14-15 July under the co-chairmanship of Japan and PNG. Up until yesterday, we were not aware that any NGOs had been invited. Yesterday, with one week remaining before the meeting we received notice that NGOs were allowed to register for the meeting and for them to send suggestions. We find this process for including NGOs at this important meeting unacceptable.

WWF strongly supports the aims and principles of the REDD+ partnership and applauds the Agreement signed in Oslo on 27 May 2010. However we are gravely concerned that these procedures in preparing the first meeting after the signing of the REDD+ Partnership Agreement do not live up to the pricniple of engagement of civil society. Basic elements of transparency are missing and there is no real opportunity for civil society organisations to effectively participate in the process with one week’s notice. We believe that the confidence in the REDD+ Partnership could be severely undermined through this.

In light of this short notice, we will not participate formally in the meeting in Brazil next week. Instead we will send a representative to take notes from the meeting.

We call on you to please state unequivocally the modalities through which civil society engagement will be adequately ensured in this and other upcoming meetings of the REDD+ Partnership. We are calling on the REDD+ Partnership to share in a timely manner the agenda and relevant background documents with civil society organisations in order to allow appropriate opportunity for input and to share views and positions. We also urge you to foresee and clarify modalities for physical representation of CSOs at upcoming meetings well in advance. We believe this is crucial and urgent for the success of REDD+ interim activities.

In the spirit of concern for this important young institution, I would be happy to discuss this with you further.

With best regards,

Paul Chatterton
Leader a.i.
WWF Forest Carbon Initiative


UPDATE, 15 July 2010: When this was posted earlier today, the number of sign-ons was 36. The current total is actually 39. The additional three sign-ons have been added to the letter. [back to text ^^ ]

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  1. @richard wineberg – Interesting question. You might get more information from the organisers of the meeting. You could perhaps try writing to the Chairs of the Interim REDD+ Partnership: Federica Bietta, Special Advisor on Climate Change, Papua New Guinea and, Yoshiko Kijima, Senior Negotiator on Climate Change, Japan. REDD-Monitor would be fascinated to see their response.

  2. I’ve seen some tweets that my interest through @gtpinhei

  3. @Natalie – thanks for this. Here are the relevant tweets (in chronological order and some translated from Portuguese using google translate):
    The young Japanese negotiator sleeping symbolizes the spirit of the meeting of the Interim Redd + Partnership in Brasi
    “There are issues of sovereignty which can not be shared with NGOs oiu they take hold of the process” Interim-Redd + Partnership
    Interim Redd+ Partnership meeting in Brasília is over, nothing decided, except for the need for further discussions.
    Interim #Redd+ Partnership meeting highlights are the need to decisions on stakeholder participation, secretariat, batabase and workplan

  4. While certainly this train of events for is alarming for civil society, I would say that for Indigenous Peoples, it was even worse. The International Indigenous Peoples Forum on Climate Change (IIPFCC) is a long-existing platform open to all Indigenous Peoples and that serves as the IPO constituency at the UNFCCC and one that brings together IP organizations and networks from local to national, regional and international levels. Neither the IIPFCC or even indigenous organizations that are active at the IIPFCC had received any invitations, funded or otherwise by the Interim REDD+ Partnership to the meeting in Brazil. Certainly it represents a step backwards from the Government of Norway’s Climate and Forest Initiative (NCFI) meeting in May 2010, the precursor to this Initiative, where Indigenous Peoples were invited, though only as observers.

    All these leads to the worrying trend that, despite promising steps in the proposed international regulatory framework for REDD regarding the rights of Indigenous Peoples, there is little prioritization for putting the principle of full and effective participation into practice. The participation of Indigenous Peoples is a right internationally recognized in various conventions and international agreements to which all parties to the Partnership have signed on to.

    Participation in the process is not equal agreeing to or endorsing the REDD+ Partnership, and in no way tantamount to the free, prior, informed consent of the rightsholders. However it is a necessary pre-condition to Indigenous Peoples being able to make a decision, without prejudice to the outcome of the decision. Furthermore, full and effective participation has to be facilitated and supported at all levels and it is not participation when decisions on when and who to participate are not made by Indigenous Peoples through our own processes but by other parties.

    We as Indigenous Peoples continue to state that we are rightholders in this process. Our participation is only one aspect of our rightful and legitimate concerns regarding the REDD+ partnership process. The lack of our participation is in itself a violation of our rights by governments. The trend to not even acknowledge our participation as stakeholders is alarming and does little to reassure us that 1, governments are serious and determined to stop the violations of our human rights and indigenous peoples’ rights; that these violations will not continue at international and national level and that REDD will not contribute to these violations; and 2, that this hasty process of implementation, without participation or even consultation, will bring about the result that the governments are trying to achieve i.e. real, meaningful reductions in emissions from deforestation and forest degradation.

    Jen is a Dayak, from Sarawak and the Climate Change focal point for the Indigenous Peoples’ Network of Malaysia

  5. We are also trying to find out what transpired at this meeting – it’s proving somewhat difficult. If anybody hears from the chairs please do pass on.