REDD-Monitor is requesting your help to find the best REDD stories contained in the US Embassy Cables that WikiLeaks released last week. WikiLeaks started releasing edited versions of the cables in November 2010, since when the cables have been trickling out. On 31 August 2011, WikiLeaks released 251,287 US Embassy cables. Unredacted.
WikiLeaks’ media partners The Guardian (UK), The New York Times (USA), Der Spiegel (Germany), El Pais (Spain) and Le Monde (France) put out a statement distancing themselves from the release of the documents:
“We deplore the decision of WikiLeaks to publish the unredacted state department cables, which may put sources at risk. Our previous dealings with WikiLeaks were on the clear basis that we would only publish cables which had been subjected to a thorough editing and clearance process. Today’s decision to publish by Julian Assange was his, and his alone.”
Perhaps not surprisingly there are several versions of exactly how and why WikiLeaks released the unedited cables. “A series of unintentional though negligent acts by multiple parties,” is how Glenn Greenwald describes it, writing on salon.com. The Spiegel website has an excellent timeline of what happened (in English).
To cut a long story short, seven months ago, Guardian journalist David Leigh published a password that Assange gave to Leigh. The password allowed access to a file containing all 251,287 unedited cables. Unknown to Leigh, the encrypted file was available on a torrented mirror of WikiLeaks. That information became public last week, prompting WikiLeaks to release the cables.
REDD-Monitor has found more than 100 cables that mention the word “REDD”. There are some fascinating insights into the way the US government views REDD, as well as interesting opinions on tropical country governments’ view of REDD. For example, on 8 November 2006 (06GEORGETOWN1182), the US Embassy in Georgetown, Guyana sent a cable with the subject, “Jagdeo: Conservation, if the price is right“. The cable points out that:
Jagdeo’s motivation is not preservation for preservation’s sake, and Guyana may ultimately offer its forests to the highest bidder. Currently, logistics, rather than policy, have insulated most of Guyana’s rainforest from development.
From Chiang Mai, Thailand, came a 2009 cable (09CHIANGMAI114) titled “Going ‘Green’ to Earn Green: Conservation policies used to displace hill tribes and bring in money.” The cable gives a concise overview of the impacts of government conservation policies on indigenous peoples in Thailand and notes NGO concerns that REDD could make things worse:
“[S]everal NGOs based in northern Thailand are worried that REDD could create further incentives for the RTG to displace highlanders from valuable forests. These NGOs also noted that there is no guarantee that REDD profits will be used to help highland people evicted from their forest homes.
There are some fascinating comments about REDD and the Copenhagen Accord. For example, from Cambodia, came this cable (10PHNOMPENH65) in February 2010:
Post expects that the RGC [Royal Government of Cambodia] will eventually associate itself with the Accord; as a least developed country, Cambodia will not jeopardize its chances at accessing pledged assistance for issues like adaptation and Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) projects.
REDD-Monitor is requesting your help in dealing with this source of information on REDD. While some of the content of the US Embassy cables on REDD is predictable, some include well written summaries of the political situation surrounding REDD in the country.
Please provide links to any interesting REDD and/or forest related stories from the US Embassy Cables in the comments below. Thanks!