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Asia Pacific indigenous activists say “No to REDD”

In this short video, “Lives of the Forest,” indigenous activists from the Asia Pacific region speak out against REDD. “We find that the way [the international community] took decisions for passing through this REDD mechanism is in complete exclusion of the indigenous peoples,” says Jiten Yumnam of the Meitei people in Manipur, India.

“Because indigenous peoples are not informed, are not involved in the decision making process, there is a serious issue with the denial of indigenous peoples’ right to free, prior and informed consent,” Yumnam adds.

The video was produced by indigenous activists during a participatory video facilitator training in Ifugao, in the Philippines. It was organised by the Asia Pacific Indigenous Youth Network, InsightShare, the Ifugao Resource and Development Centre and Conversations with the Earth (CWE). CWE is

“an indigenous-led multimedia initiative that amplifies indigenous voices in the global discourse on ecological and cultural challenges facing the planet, including climate change, Conversations with the Earth (CWE) is a way of listening closely to traditional custodians of the world’s biocultural diversity in order to formulate viable global responses.”

(Hat tip to Climate Connections – they posted this video yesterday.)

The following statement about the video is from CWE:

‘Lives of the Forest’ was created by indigenous activists from across the Asia Pacific region exploring the likely impacts of the UN’s REDD programme on indigenous resources and lifestyles. It was created during a participatory video facilitator training in Ifugao (Philippines) by representatives of 15 distinct indigenous communities from 8 different countries.

The film was shot entirely on location within the remote mountain community of Hungduan in Ifugao (home to the Tuali peoples – one of the many indigenous groups in the Cordillera region of the Philippines) and explores the traditional knowledge and lifestyles of the Tuali peoples including their deep connection with, and reliance upon, their Muyong (clan-owned woodlands) and communal forests as an example of an indigenous community whose way of life is threatened by programmes such as REDD. The indigenous filmmakers behind this short film assert that market-based approaches to climate change are at odds with the traditional lifestyles and belief systems of indigenous peoples and that, through such programs, governments around the world will assert ownership over the forests inhabited by indigenous communities leading to landlessness and increased loss of bio-cultural diversity.

It was planned and created by 18 indigenous activists as a collaborative filmmaking exercise during a 2-week training program in participatory video facilitation. The trainees undertook all the conceptualisation, storyboarding and filming. They made all the editing decisions during a participatory ‘paper edit’ process. The footage was edited on location with all the trainees in attendance by the trainers, whilst they received editing training and pieced together the short films created by local women and youth during community placements.

‘Lives of the Forest’ is intended as a piece of video advocacy that will add to the rich tapestry of perspectives on how best to address the climate crisis. It does not purport to represent all indigenous communities; nor does it claim to be ‘balanced’ or ‘objective’. This is collaborative polemic filmmaking by those whose voices are rarely heard and are always under-represented.


Leave a Reply


  1. Where are the Pacific people in this.
    They might want REDD!

  2. Overlooking the indigenous peoples rights and the voices of 450 million forest dependent people of Asia-pacific’s surely put the sustainability of REDD programme at stake. The real scenario of the probably affected people should be assessed and whether the problem lies on lack of even market access only or is there some more reasons?

  3. @Colin Hunt – Please read the statement that Conversations with the Earth produced about this video (above), in particular the final paragraph:

    ‘Lives of the Forest’ is intended as a piece of video advocacy that will add to the rich tapestry of perspectives on how best to address the climate crisis. It does not purport to represent all indigenous communities; nor does it claim to be ‘balanced’ or ‘objective’. This is collaborative polemic filmmaking by those whose voices are rarely heard and are always under-represented.

  4. What a great video! There is such a lack of information from people that are likely to be affected by REDD and their opinions on it. I agree that it must be so important for the sustainability of REDD projects that local communities are listened to. All policy-makers should note what Insee Kampeerapanyakul from Thailand is saying: They were living in the forest and protecting the forest. After they were forced out the government was not able to protect the forest. A lose-lose situation with devastating consequences for people and the environment.

  5. I am an Ifugao belonging to the Tuwali (this is the spelling we use) that this video advocacy mentions and I feel rather offended by the contrived composition under the guise of “participatory” activity. For one thing, Ifugaos do not have a concept of “mother earth” as always assumed true for all indigenous peoples. True, this advocacy does not claim to represent our sentiments. True, our conservation practices and values are threatened by REDD. But we are not facing it with poetry and drama. We have a different history. We were not displaced from our land. We have always fought for our rights, and that is how we must handle REDD.

  6. @Rachel: That is great. Can I ask whether you think donor countries and the public in donor countries should get more involved in making REDD more “democratic” and campaigning for mechanisms such as FPIC?

  7. I wonder if ‘the public in donor countries ‘ know where their supposed pledged funds are coming from, and how those funds will affect them personally and financially?
    Do they realise that their Governments are also arranging other Carbon Tax’s that will be packed on top of ‘pledged promises’ for the start of treble ‘dipping’as Governments take advantage of the new revenue getting opportunities that this REDD and REDD+ fiasco are giving them.
    Still their has not been ONE piece of relevance to the the protection of Rain Forests , in fact logging(legal and illegal) this quarter of 2011 has increased in the Pacific region.
    So any UNFCCC mechanism is still a long way off and to ever think FPIC is a appropriate solution is careless and lazy.

  8. The thing with IP rights is that we, the indigenous peoples, always portray ourselves as defeated peoples, marginalized, pitiful remnants of disappearing cultures. This portrayal is a defeatist stand which makes us look helpless and inferior to the mainstream cultures of our respective countries. We should seek to educate ourselves and our people on the issues of the world. “Land is life” and the principle should remain as it is,unadulterated by any other political ideology, western or oriental. Education not insurrection. We stand on the same earth as non-indigenous peoples, we assert ourselves now for the generations that will come after us. We maybe minority in terms of number but the battle now is not fought with swords or cannons. Let us educate ourselves, then we fight with our minds.

  9. @Kristine:Your question (and how you posed it) summarizes a core issue about REDD. First of all, democracy and “Free and Prior Informed Consent” are not bestowed nor something to “campaign” for by benevolent donor countries. FPIC on REDD is just an intervention. I understand too that traders are not donors, and a “donor” does not do the taking. Secondly, the present REDD idea is implicitly colonial so “making REDD more ‘democratic’” is oxymoronic, do not you think?

    Polemics aside, let us keep in mind that the indigenous peoples are not the ones who are desperately pushing to trade. Hence, they should not assume a defensive stance. That is essentially why I made that comment about the video. But you have a point there about the “public in donor countries” to get more involved. They can start by understanding their own position and turning the spotlight on the big forest buyers. Meanwhile let us study how the latest versions can really work for us.

  10. @Tom Alberts – Here’s an explanation of the “plus” part of REDD-plus (from “REDD: An Introduction”, here:

    REDD is described in paragraph 70 of the AWG/LCA outcome [from Cancún]:

    “Encourages developing country Parties to contribute to mitigation actions in the forest sector by undertaking the following activities, as deemed appropriate by each Party and in accordance with their respective capabilities and national circumstances:

    (a) Reducing emissions from deforestation;
    (b) Reducing emissions from forest degradation;
    (c) Conservation of forest carbon stocks;
    (d) Sustainable management of forest;
    (e) Enhancement of forest carbon stocks;”

    This is REDD-plus (although it is not referred to as such in the AWG/LCA text). Points (a) and (b) refers to REDD. Points (c), (d) and (e) are the “plus” part.

  11. @lyndal – This is not complicated. REDD = Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation. That is covered by points (a) and (b). So far, so good, I hope.

    The “plus” part of REDD+ = Conservation of forest carbon stocks, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks. That is covered by points (c), (d) and (e).

    “REDD” = (a) and (b)

    “plus” or “+” = (c), (d) and (e)

    “REDD+” = (a), (b), (c), (d) and (e).

  12. if REDD+ is (a)(b)(c)(d) and (e) and from the information and proposed structure being displayed to create a mechanisum that has been provided from the UNFCCC and its supposed pledged donors(countries).
    How does REDD+ perform (a) and (b)?
    Where is any evidence that REDD+ is designed for (a) and (b).
    let alone any evidence it could ever perform (a to E)