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REDD in Cancun, part 1: What happened to Bolivia’s text in the AWG-LCA?

REDD in Cancun, part 1: What happened to Bolivia's text in the AWG-LCA? PHOTO: David Gilbert, RAN

So far, the REDD negotiations in the Ad-hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action (AWG-LCA) in Cancun seem to have little to do with either cooperation or action. Yesterday, Bolivia’s Ambassador Pablo Solón said that the latest text “is imbalanced, and excludes the proposals of Bolivia and many other developing nations”.

How did we arrive here? REDD-Monitor is not in Cancun, but here’s an attempt to describe what’s happened so far in the LCA negotiations. At the end of the Tianjin meeting in August 2010, there were two possible versions of REDD in the LCA text. Option one was text proposed by Bolivia and other countries that came from the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth, that took place in Cochabamba, Bolivia in April 2010. Option two was the text that came from Copenhagen, with only minor amendments from the Bonn meeting in June 2010. (A briefing from FIELD explains in detail the various places that REDD appears in the negotiating texts: “REDD-plus Briefing Paper, UN Climate Change Conference in Cancun, 29 November – 10 December 2010.”)

Option one (the “Bolivian text”) includes several interesting items, such as the following, to ensure that REDD must:

“Guarantee rights of indigenous peoples under the basis of international normative instruments and local communities”

“Not be market mechanisms on forest related actions”

“Not be offset mechanisms that implies that developed countries will use emission reductions that were made by developing countires in order to fulfill their emission reduction commitments”

“Proposals shall not be considered that allow industrial scale logging or that involve conversion of natural forests to plantations or other commercial or infrastructure activities and projects that damage the environment or violate the rights of local communities”

It also included reference to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and Free Prior and Informed Consent.

Both options are in this document: FCCC/AWGLCA/2010/14, dated 13 August 2010.

This should have been the text to be discussed in Cancun, but shortly before the meeting in Cancun started, the chair of the AWG-LCA, Margaret Mukahanana-Sangarwe, released a note titled “Possible elements of the outcome”. This document, which is dated 24 November 2010, is available here: FCCC/AWGLCA/2010/CRP.1. One of the main differences between the chair’s text and the text that came out of the Tianjin meeting is that the Bolivian text has disappeared.

The first problem that the negotiators faced in Cancun was to decide which document they should be discussing. Ben Vickers of RECOFTC who is in Cancun to follow the REDD negotiations explained on Saturday, 4 December 2010:

I must apologize. I seem to have given the impression that the Cancun talks started on Monday. My mistake; at least as far as REDD+ is concerned the negotiations only start tomorrow. For the last five days parties have been arguing over which text to begin with.

The negotiators decided to use the chair’s text. Hence Bolivia’s irritation, expressed by Pablo Solón yesterday.

A revised version came out on 4 December 2010: FCCC/AWGLCA/2010/CRP.2.

There are, no doubt, some advantages of using the chair’s text. It avoids (for the time being) any discussion about how REDD will be financed, which as Vickers notes “could not possibly be agreed at this meeting”. The chair’s text instead only refers to financing of “readiness” activities. One obvious danger of this arrangement is that public finance will be used to help set up a carbon market from which private companies will profit. At a side event in Cancun Warren Evans, Director of Environment Department at the World Bank gave a presentation that one observer noted was “horrible – all about pushing REDD towards the markets”.

Before the decision to use the chair’s text was taken, the Indigenous Environmental Network put out a press release titled, “What Happened to the Text from the Cochabamba’s People’s Accord?” (Available in English and Spanish, below.) It’s an excellent question and one that we deserve an answer to.

The diplomatic cables released by wikileaks recently exposed how the US had manipulated the UN negotiations a year ago in Copenhagen. Then in April 2010, just before the Cochamba meeting started, the US denied US$2.5 million climate aid to Bolivia and US$2.5 million to Ecuador for opposing the Copenhagen Accord. “It confirms what we’ve been saying all along,” said Bolivia’s Pablo Solón in a press release. “That is not a climate negotiation, it’s an imposition. We will not be bought.”

In an interview yesterday, Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! asked Solón about the diplomatic cables released by wikileaks. Here’s his reponse:

I hope that we are not going to have to wait one year until we know really what happened here in Cancún, because what happened in Copenhagen is also happening here in Cancún, because there is a lot of pressure put into countries in order to force them to accept, I would say, a new version of the Copenhagen Accord. And we are afraid that we are going to have Copenhagen Accord part two in Cancún.

Regarding the REDD text, Solón said in a statement, “Debates should continue on the negotiating text that includes the proposals of all parties.”

Statement of Concern from the Indigenous Environmental Network

What Happened to the Text from the Cochabamba’s People’s Accord?

Media Contacts:

IEN media hotline: +52 998 108 0748

As indigenous peoples, we are extremely concerned that the principles agreed upon in the Cochabamba People’s Agreement have been unilaterally removed from the negotiating document that was released on November 24th. Equally alarming is the misrepresentation of the Copenhagen Accord as a legitimate path forward, despite its widespread denouncement by civil society and its tepid reception last December in Denmark, when the United Nations merely “took note of” it.

“Cochabamba emphasized human rights,” said Alberto Saldamando, legal council for the International Indian Treaty Council. “Copenhagen advocated avarice. In Cochabamba, global civil society condemned a market approach that does nothing to address climate change and only threatens the most vulnerable. The disappearance of the Cochabamba text from the current working document sends an unfortunate signal about what we can expect from this COP.”

Beyond the lack of transparency in the process, a key concern with the Copenhagen document is its blanket support for REDD (Reduction of Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation). REDD, while it will allow industrial polluters to continue their practices virtually unabated, also threatens indigenous and land-based peoples with eviction and marginalization. It contains no safeguards, no guarantee of rights, and a disturbing array of potential governance challenges. Our interventions in this week’s climate negotiations will focus on these challenges.

Indigenous Environmental Network will move forward advocating four principles of climate justice:

  1. Leave fossil fuels in the ground
  2. Real and effective solutions based in equity and justice
  3. Industrialized countries must take responsibility
  4. Living in a good way on the earth

Declaración de preocupación de Indigenous Environmental Network (Red Indígena Ambiental)

¿Qué paso con el texto del Acuerdo de los Pueblos de Cochabamba?

Contacto de Medios:
IEN Medios: +52 998 108 0748
Correo Electrónico:

Como Pueblos Indígenas, estamos extremadamente consternados por que los principios que se acordó incorporar en el Acuerdo de los Pueblos de Cochabamba han sido eliminados unilateralmente del documento de negociación publicado el 24 de noviembre. Igual de alarmante es la errónea representación del acuerdo de Copenhague como un camino legitimo a seguir hacia adelante. A pesar de las amplias denuncias por la sociedad civil y su tibia recepción el pasado diciembre en Dinamarca, cuando las Naciones Unidas meramente “tomo nota” de ello.

Alberto Saldamando, consejero para el Consejo Internacional del Tratado Indígena, declaró “Cochabamba enfatiza los derechos humanos,” “Copenhague abogaba por la avaricia. En Cochabamba, la sociedad civil global condenó el enfoque de mercado que no hace nada para abordar el cambio y que solo amenaza a los más vulnerables.La desaparición del texto de Cochabamba del documento actual de negociaciones manda un desafortunado mensaje sobre lo que podemos esperar de COP.”

Más allá de la falta de transparencia en el proceso, una preocupación clave con el documento de Copenhague es al amplio apoyo por REDD (Reducción de las Emisiones por la Deforestación y la Degradación). Mientras que REDD permitiría a los contaminadores continuar sus prácticas virtualmente sin ningún freno, también amenaza a los Pueblos Indígenas y a aquellos que dependen de la tierra con el desplazamiento y la marginalización. No contiene salvaguardias, ni garantías de derechos, y si un sin fin de potenciales retos gubernamentales. Nuestras intervenciones en las negociaciones de esta semana sobre el clima se enfocarán en estos retos.

Indigenous Environmental Network (Red Indígena Ambiental) seguirá impulsando cuatro principios de Justicia Climática:

1. Dejar a los combustibles fósiles dentro de la tierra

2. Soluciones reales y efectivas basadas en equidad y justicia

3. Los países Industrializados deben tomar su responsabilidad

4. Practicar el buen vivir con la tierra

PHOTO CREDIT: David Gilbert.

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  1. Thank you for your careful devotion to following the truth – among the most endangered of species in the shadow of transnational corporate machinations in Cancun.

    Solon’s interview by Amy was punctuated by his profoundly diplomatic, understated disclosures of the obvious which barely concealed the righteous indignation anyone else on the receiving end of World Bank policies would express.

  2. Here’s a completely different version of events from EDF:

    Over the weekend a new negotiating text was released, and in this one the Chair had included for discussion some provisions Bolivia had been pushing for. Bolivia agreed to accept the text, and now the REDD+ negotiations are underway.

    This was posted on the same day that Pablo Solón described the LCA text as “imbalanced, and excludes the proposals of Bolivia and many other developing nations”.

  3. If you look at the Global Witness side event on the cop16 website (they have an ondemand link), it looks like Brazil and PNG were the 2 countries pushing hardest against the safeguards. Maybe Bolivia should look at their neighbors for answers as to why safeguard text related to human and environmental rights was taken out?

  4. Yes behind closed doors Conrad on behalf of himself using PNG nominated ‘ article 2 ‘ and like Brazil are trying to exclude the rights human and enviromental rights of PNG.
    Conrads support as from today ex-PM Somare has been stood down and ‘trials’ of many many obvious allegations are being prepared, the acting PM one of Conrads cronies will be forced out by party preference before Christmas.
    Conrad and his criminal offsider Wari Iamo and their self appointed appointments will be expelled before the re seatting of Parliment around the 13th of January 2011, the UN will need to find other representatives.Class actions are being prepared to defend the Incorporated Land Groups of PNG against these criminal UNFCCC oppurtunists.
    PNG has over 800 languages and customs, over the different forest areas which have over 800 different unique systems , thats is why 97% of PNG is owned by the people of PNG.
    That is why idiots like Conrad and co have no authority and another reason why REDD+ is so fraudlent.

  5. PRIME Minister Sir Michael Somare has told the nation that he will not erode the powers of important constitutional offices like the Ombudsman Commission, public prosecutor and the Chief Justice.
    Sir Michael in the nationwide address yesterday on national radio NBC, its TV arm Kundu2 and EMTV on his referral said he had the right to defend himself when he felt that processes were not followed.
    Speaking in Tok Pisin, he said: “I want you, the people of Papua New Guinea, to know that I am responsible for the setting up of Papua New Guinea’s constitutional offices like the Ombudsman Commission, the public prosecutor and the chief justice.”
    “I would not erode the powers of these important offices.
    “However, as a citizen of this country, I have a right to defend myself if I feel that processes have not been followed that led to the charges against me.”
    Sir Michael said there were a lot of lies being circulated against him and his family and charges against him by the Ombudsman Commission.
    “I am here today to clarify to people what is happening about my referral by the Ombudsman Commission.
    “I cannot make comments on how I feel about the charges; that would be seen as an attempt to influence the courts.
    “I can, however, tell you what the case is about.”
    He said the Ombudsman Commission took a decision in November of 2006 to refer him related to non-filing of some of his returns; some were late and others incomplete between the period 1994 and 1997.
    “I want the public to know that non-submittal of Ombudsman Returns is an administrative matter. It is not a case of misappropriation and dishonesty.
    “In my defence, my lawyers are saying the process the Ombudsman Commission used to refer me is flawed.
    “This matter is still being argued and is before the Supreme Court.
    “When I began in politics over 40 years ago we did not win office because we lied to people and misinformed them about the truth.”
    He said in 1967 and 1968 he was dealing with a foreign administration.
    “We experienced a life that is different to life today in Papua New Guinea.
    “Under the former administration our rights were restricted.
    “We were not allowed to move freely as we do today. There were curfews every night in our main towns. We could not hold public rallies.
    “Early politicians like myself grouped together to change this. Through political persuasion, we convinced our administrators that we were ready for self rule.
    “I, therefore, take great exception to the lie that nothing has changed in 35 years.”
    He said many things had changed, especially the way politics was being played today although there were aspects of PNG’s traditional life that had not changed in thousands of years.
    “Life in our cities today is influenced very much by globalisation, we have access to modern media today that is very powerful. Modern media can be used in both a good and bad way.”
    He said by using modern media to tell people lies over and over again, eventually people start to believe these lies.
    “And there are a lot of lies out there today about me, my family and the charges against me by the office of the Ombudsman Commission.”
    Somare sounds like the ‘Joker” in Batman and Robin.