By Chris Lang
Brett Goldsworthy, chairman of Shift2Neutral has responded to REDD-Monitor’s email asking some questions about his company’s REDD-type projects in Malaysia, the Philippines and Indonesia. He states that his company “deals in facts”, but provides no new information. He states that his company manages its project “in an ethical and open way” but apparently only “to those people involved in the project”.
He adds that he is disappointed that “people wish to make commentary and assumptions before knowing the facts of our project(s).” REDD-Monitor is in turn disappointed that there is so little information publicly available about any of Shift2Neutral’s projects. If the projects are “ethical”, surely the company has nothing to lose by answering questions.
Here is REDD-Monitor’s email to Shift2Neutral and below that, Brett Goldsworthy’s response:
From: Chris Lang
Date: 13 August 2010 15:24
Subject: Shift2Neutral and REDD
Dear Brett Goldsworthy,
Greetings from Jakarta! My name is Chris Lang and I run a website called REDD-Monitor. I’ve just done a post that mentions Shift2Neutral’s potential REDD projects in Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines:
Australian company Shift2Neutral signs REDD deals in Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines | http://bit.ly/caFKak
The post consists of your company’s press release, the Reuters article from earlier this week and a press release from JOAS about the project in Malaysia.
I would be grateful if you could answer these follow-up questions:
1. Where exactly are Shift2Neutral’s projects in Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines and with which communities were the agreements signed? How many villages are involved in each case?
2. Please describe the process by which you reached the agreement with the communities. Did the communities employ the services of an independent lawyer to go through and explain the agreements with them before signing the agreement?
3. Was a process of Free, Prior and Informed Consent carried out before the agreements were signed? If so, please explain what form this process took?
4. Are the agreements available to the public? If so, could you please send me a copy and if not, could you please explain why not.
5. So far, there is very little information available about the proposed projects. Please describe the projects in each country.
6. Please provide a breakdown of the proposed revenue from the project. What proportion will communities receive? How much do you anticipate that communities will receive per year?
7. Has Shift2Neutral (or any of the people involved in the company) ever carried out a forest conservation project in the tropics before, or one involving indigenous peoples?
8. Your press release states that “Shift2Neutral signs agreement to certify carbon credits under the avoided deforestation program known as REDD+ with a group of tribal leaders in Sarawak Malaysia”. As you know, negotiations have been going on for several years, but as yet there is no agreement at the UN level about REDD+. I would be grateful if you could explain to me exactly how you explained what REDD+ is to the indigenous peoples with whom you signed the agreement.
9. Your company’s website that explains how Shift2Neutral carries out its “certification” provides two links. One is to the Greenhouse Gas Protocol Initiative and the other is to the World Bank Carbon Finance Unit. As neither of these organisations actually certifies forest carbon credits, could you please explain how, exactly, you intend to “certify carbon credits” in the projects in Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines.
Thanks for your time and I look forward to hearing from you. Please consider your response to be on the record.
Regards, Chris Lang
From: Brett Goldsworthy
To: Chris Lang, email@example.com
Date: 20 August 2010 12:04
Subject: Re: Shift2Neutral and REDD
Thank you kindly for sending through an email on the 13th August about your interest in our project and sorry for the delay but I have been traveling, and please note I have also copied your email to our Malaysian partners.
On request, would you be so kind as to provide your professional interest in this project, your professional credentials to make commentary and I can forward these to our partners in Malaysia so they may wish to comment.
From Shift2Neutral’s perspective, may I just advise we deal in facts, we manage our projects in an ethical and open way to those people involved in the project and respect the wishes and desires of those involved.
It is disappointing that people wish to make commentary and assumptions before knowing the facts of our project(s).
Whilst I am sure it is of interest to many our role and our interest is simply to focus on our project.
Whilst not wanting to sound disrespectful to yourself and may other interested parties I am requested by those groups involved in this project to not comment any further and I will honour that request.
However here is a statement that may help you
AVOIDED DEFORESTATION by SHIFT2NEUTRAL PTY LTD
Shift2Neutral believes that linking people’s economic self-interest and the health of ecosystems is one of the most promising ways to garner interest in the conservation challenges facing society today. Business has a long record of pioneering new ideas, forging new partnerships and implementing new solutions. The moment has now come for the private sector to put these strengths to work in ways that will permanently halt unsustainable deforestation and allow the global society to protect the ecosystems on which we all depend. We believe this can be achieved with real benefits to local stakeholders.
We must recognize the rights of indigenous peoples and the local communities involved, with all parties achieving Free and Prior Consent.
Regardless of the international and national policies in place, deforestation cannot be combated effectively unless local landowners and residents have more reason to protect forest ecosystems than they have to destroy them.
Only by recognizing that the forest conservation efforts of the private, public and social sectors all depend on millions of land-use decisions made at the local level, can we craft an international avoided deforestation strategy capable of making the all-important transition from policy to practice.
Avoided Deforestation policy must pay particular regard to community rights, culture, social and livelihood issues.
Local communities must have significant input if policies and process are to succeed.
Here’s my answer to Goldsworthy’s question about my “professional interest” and “professional credentials to make commentary”:
I have an MSc in forestry and have worked for about 17 years with various social and environmental organisations, in particular the World Rainforest Movement and TERRA in Thailand. During that period I have seen many examples of projects in forest areas affecting (in some cases completely destroying) local people’s livelihoods – some carried out by well meaning people, others by less well meaning people. I believe it is important, as an absolute minimum, that the proponents of such projects are transparent about what they are doing, where they are working and with whom they are working.