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Environmental Defense Fund caught REDD-handed

On 7 December 2010, thousands of people in Cancun took part in Via Campesina’s International Day of Action for Climate Justice. In a press release Via Campesina announced that the protesters were opposed, among other things, to carbon markets and REDD. Not so, according to Environmental Defense Fund’s Chris Meyer.

In a post on EDF’s blog from Cancun Meyer claims that indigenous peoples were marching for rights, “not against reducing deforestation policies”.

Meyer’s “evidence” for this is a press release from what Meyer calls “the official indigenous peoples caucus”. The press release, from the International Indigenous Peoples Forum on Climate Change is dated 6 December 2010 and makes no mention of the march which took place the following day.

IIPFCC’s press release makes the following three demands:

  • Full respect for our rights, including those contained in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
  • Respect our right to Free Prior and Informed Consent.
  • Recognition and protection for the traditional knowledge of indigenous peoples as a basis for the generation of effective solutions to climate change. Our strategies and local solutions based on traditional knowledge can provide real solutions to climate change.

The IIPFCC press release also demands that UNDRIPs is included in “All sections of the agreement to come out in Cancun, inter alia in the preamble section, Shared Vision, and in the REDD.”

EDF distorts the press release in an attempt to give the impression that IIPFCC supports REDD, on the somewhat shaky grounds that these demands have already been met. Taking each of the three points in turn:

  • EDF notes that the reference to UNDRIPs is contained in an Annex on safeguards for REDD – IIPFCC is asking for it to be in the text itself.
  • EDF points out that free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) is contained in UNDRIPs. That may well be enough for EDF, but as Meyer acknowledges, in a rare moment of honesty, “indigenous peoples would like to see it explicitly included.”
  • On the third point, Meyer gives a fine example of EDF’s arrogance. He comments, “In a sense, they are saying ‘Work with us when you are designing REDD+ programs because we can make them better.'” But that’s not in any sense what IIPFCC states in its press release. It is pure fabrication by Meyer.

In fact, on the opening day of the UN negotiations in Cancun, IIPFCC produced a statement that makes clear their position on REDD and carbon trading:

Market-based mitigation strategies such as the Clean Development Mechanism and carbon offsets, including forest offsets and REDD, further threaten our human rights, including our right to free prior and informed consent among many others. Our land and territories, food sovereignty, bio-diversity, cultural practices and traditional life ways are being placed in further jeopardy, and we reject these false solutions.

When it was first posted, Meyer’s blog post was even more outrageous. It now includes the following correction:

A previous version of this post mentioned the indigenous peoples’ march was not in rejection of carbon markets, however the press release issued by the group does have language rejecting carbon markets.

The “language” from the International Indigenous Peoples Forum on Climate Change press release is as follows: “We also continue to reject the carbon market to be a false solution to climate change.” Which is a reasonably clear rejection of the financing mechanism for REDD that EDF is proposing.

But Chris Meyer’s worst lie is still there, towards the end of his blog post:

Back at today’s march, sure there were groups participating with an anti-REDD+ message – but they are not the majority.

Patrick Bond of the Centre for Civil Society at the University of KwaZulu-Natal took part in the march (REDD-Monitor was not there). “I was at the march,” he writes in a comment to Meyer’s blog post,

“and can testify that at least 1000 times I heard anti-REDD chants, and I saw at least 1000 anti-REDD tee-shirts, banners, signs, stickers and newspapers.

“I didn’t see or hear a single pro-REDD statement.”

Bond describes Meyer’s blog post as “the most embarrassingly inaccurate propaganda I’ve seen from EDF in quite a while.”

In an attempt to give some balance to EDF’s hopelessly biased report, here’s a short video from Democracy Now! about the Global Day of Action for Climate Justice in Cancun:


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  1. Okay, let’s be fair here. If you’re going to accuse EDF of distorting, please be willing to assess whether Patrick Bond is also distorting. He claims that he heard and saw at least 1000 protests and t-shirts, banners, signs, etc. Umm, was he actually counting the number of shouts and t-shirts, banners, signs, etc.? Kind of doubt that he was using his time and energy to do this. The numbers in Patrick Bond’s post seem just silly.

    I really appreciate the work that you do collecting information about REDD. However, these kinds of stories make me question your credibility and accuracy in reporting.

    This kind of mud-slinging between NGOs is so tiresome and unproductive. I also think it is unnecessary. After listening to many presentations by members of indigenous peoples from around the world at Cancun Messe, it is clear that they are very capable of speaking for themselves without others jumping in and trying to represent or misrepresent their positions on REDD. Some indigenous communities seem to feel positively about REDD. Others seem more critical of it. It is important that they participate in the process, make informed decisions and are empowered by doing so — but I think we should expect that different communities will have different ideas about REDD.

  2. It is also painfully obvious in Janet’s closing statement, “different communities will have different ideas about REDD.”,

    The transnational corporate community interests that EDF is representing — financed by, and prevaricating for REDD’s neocolonial outcome — WILL NOT PREVENT triggering tipping points setting off irreversible, catastrophic climate change. The communities campesinos come from get this.

    EDF is NOT representing their communities which are already struggling with climate change.

    EDF is certainly NOT embracing the reality that campesinos, indigenous peoples, and rural communities worldwide understand their role as prey and the commons they/we all own are being seized by REDD as shareholder commodities.

  3. @Janet – Thanks. You’re right – Patrick Bond’s numbers are guesstimates. I didn’t think anyone would seriously think he’d been counting. But the Democracy Now! video does show that there were rather a lot of people with “No REDD” banners, t-shirts, signs and even a loin cloth. So Bond has some evidence to back up his comment. Unlike Meyer, whose only evidence is fabricated.

    You’re also right in that indigenous peoples can speak for themselves. That’s more or less my point. Some are in favour of REDD others are critical of it. But when EDF writes things like “In a sense, they are saying …” EDF is putting words into another organisation’s mouth. And whether you like it or not, Via Campesina – the organisers of the march on 7 December 2010 and the world’s largest federation of peasant and smallholder farmers – is opposed to carbon markets and REDD.

    I’m sorry that you find this sort of post “tiresome and unproductive”, but groups that are working on social and environmental justice issues have kept quiet for too long about the abuses carried out by some of the US-based BINGOs. EDF is pushing for the worst possible REDD deal – one based on carbon trading, without adequate recognition of rights and without meaningful reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels. The result will be an increase in greenhouse gas emissions, an increase in deforestation and an increase in abuse of human rights.

  4. Hang on Janet what about the 100’s of millions around the world who are protesting REDD in their own enviroments and homes who are so affected by not only climate change but the horrible position the world bank has put everyone financially.
    People from all around the world the absolute majority of the planet have had their hearts and souls in the support of this protest on REDD+ and its fraudulent expectations.
    While a few idiots sit in a hotel discussing how they can con each other.
    I am sorry Janet but REDD or REDD+ has always been one big con , its as simple as that.

  5. A month ago, I was shocked by Chris Meyer’s reaction at the World Bank (WB) meeting about FIP (REDD project), when I publicly participated and ask directly why Mexico’s communities do not have representation in that meeting, when that that was one of the discussion issues. He jumped at me aggressively and said that it wasn’t WB’s fault, that it was MY mistake, and that I should be better informed WB procedures. In the opposite sense, WB people reacted in a possitive way to my question an welcomed me to the meeting and to send information back to my organization and my country. This is just a personal taste of Chris Meyer, who is obviously arrogant and not helping neither the organizations or the people at all and seems to act more like a WB lawyer.

  6. Its the old game of good cop bad cop Priscila , Chris Meyer is only trying to use the weight of the WB to get their message across….really he is only a light weight and a pawn for a shocking corrupted game.
    The WB and UN have been found wanting for a long time now….
    Look at the mess and cost they leave World Wide , however this issue is very difficult for them to cover up as they have been able to get away with in the pass.

  7. I’m very aware of the issues related to REDD. I started studying them in graduate school ten years ago when carbon sequestration projects weren’t even called REDD. LOL!

    I spent the day south of Cancun in the tropical forest learning about a Mayan’s community forestry project. The community is interested in learning more about REDD and perhaps participating in it. I very much support the participation of indigenous people in the REDD process. I also think it’s important that organizations debate these issues. However, I think it is important to be respectful which means avoiding distortions and personal attacks and sticking to the real issues.

  8. Fantastic Janet myself and my principal have been involved with forest protection for over decade as well , we have seen so many different ideas come and go regarding, and this REDD or + scheme has topped the cake, it is a complete fraud and land grap of forest peoples land least to say.Its commercial prinicpals are also unsound and fraudulent , it does not have a methodology it has no relavent mechanisum,it has no way to suggest it has an International agreement to comply, so how can you support the Mayan,s community in a “redd process” when it does not exist.
    You need to address your teacher at graduate school and ask he or she, if they understood what they were teaching you.
    Sorry for the lesson….

  9. @Janet – Thanks again. I agree that it’s important to be respectful, to avoid distortions and personal attacks and to stick to the real issues. So, take a look at these photographs from the march on 7 December 2010 and tell me whether Meyer’s description looks like a distortion or not:

    sure there were groups participating with an anti-REDD+ message – but they are not the majority.