in Peru

How the Green Climate Fund approved a wetlands project in Peru without a process of Free, Prior and Informed Consent of Indigenous Peoples

Green Climate FundIn early November 2015, the Board of the Green Climate Fund (GCF) met in Livingston, Zambia. During the meeting it approved US$168 million funding for eight projects. One of these projects aims to deforestation in wetlands on largely indigenous peoples’ territories in the province of Datem del Marañón in Peru.

The UNFCCC came up with the idea of a Green Climate Fund at COP15, the UN’s climate 2009 meeting in Copenhagen. It was formally set up in Cancun a year later.

Mad rush to approve projects

Obviously, six years later and with no projects on its books, the GCF Board was under a lot of pressure to deliver some projects at its meeting in Zambia – especially with COP21 in Paris just around the corner.

The result was a mad rush to approve projects. Karen Orenstein from Friends of the Earth USA attended the GCF meeting in Zambia. “It was really a mess,” she told InsideClimate News.

The GCF reviewed the eight project proposals in two months. Orenstein points out that typically, a review process would take between 12 and 18 months. Observers were give far too little time to valuate the projects in any detail.

Forest Peoples Programme and Tebtebba has produced a briefing about the GCF’s wetlands project in Peru. The project title of the project is “Building the Resilience of Wetlands in the Province of Datem del Marañón in Peru”.

Peru’s accredited entity criticised

The project was presented to the GCF by the Peruvian Trust Fund for National Parks and Protected Areas (PROFONANPE). PROFONANPE is one of 20 entities that has so far been accredited by GCF to receive funding from the GCF to run projects.

In June 2015, before PROFONANPE suggested the project in Datem del Marañón, the Peruvian Indigenous Peoples Organisation AIDESEP wrote to GCF opposing PROFONANPE as a recipient of GCF funds.

It the letter, AIDESEP pointed out the negative experiences that indigenous peoples’ organisations had had with PROFONANPE’s previous work on conservation and national parks in Peru.

According to the 106-page Funding Proposal presented to the GCF,

The project seeks to enhance the resilience capacity of the indigenous communities living in the rich carbon stock wetland ecosystem in the Province of Datem del Marañón (PDM) in the Region 1 of Loreto, Peru, improve their livelihoods and to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from deforestation. The target population is primarily low income indigenous peoples from seven ethnic groups. The project aims to create social capital and agreed plans to entrust the management of the natural resource base to the indigenous communities.

The project will strengthen protected areas and create a new protected area. The aim is to reduce deforestation and carbon emissions in an area where 120 communities live. Most of the communities are indigenous. The project will also support the development of land use plans and ecological zoning, and support community enterprises.

No carbon credits from GCF mitigation projects

The project will not generate carbon credits. A post on the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies Blog reports on a GCF side event held in Paris during COP21, under the title, “Deploying Resources of the Green Climate Fund: What makes a good Project?”. The blog reports Hela Cheichkrouhou, Executive Director of the GCF, as saying that,

approved mitigation projects may not sell carbon credits, as this would nullify additionality in emissions reductions from GCF funded projects.

Impacts on indigenous peoples

In their briefing, FPP and Tebtebba note that “it is clear that the project has direct implications for their rights to lands, resources and to prior consultation…” They note that communites in the area of the proposed project are seeking to implement their “Planes de Vida” (or Life Plans).

The briefing highlights three key issues relating to the GCF project:

  • It is unclear how the creation and consolidation of protected areas in this region will affect the ongoing efforts of indigenous peoples to secure recognition of their collective customary lands, a grassroots process on land rights, which is very well advanced in this region. These land and territorial rights intitiatives are not mentioned anywhere in the project proposal nor is there any information about how indigenous peoples’ rights to customary lands and territories will be guaranteed.

  • It is unclear how the development of state-sponsored management plans and the ecological categorization of forests will affect indigenous peoples’ well-established rights to customary resource use. Indeed, the project documents do not address the ongoing efforts of indigenous peoples in this region to establish their own territorial and environmental governance initiatives. It is of particular concern that the project argues that these management plans will effectively replace the need for indigenous peoples to secure tenure rights, but at the same time highlights that these rights will be conditional on continued compliance of indigenous peoples with the conditions that are established.

  • The project includes ambitious targets for emissions reductions through reducing deforestation by half over the 10 year life cycle of the project. However, given the low levels of deforestation in the region, it remains unclear where these reductions will be secured, raising concerns that indigenous peoples’ traditional land use practies and customary resource use may be targeted. Nowhere in the project are there any guarantees that indigenous peoples’ customary rights to resource use will be fully respected and unrestricted.

Project approved before a process of free, prior, and informed consent

PROFONANPE presented general statements of support from some communities and organisations in its funding proposal to GCF. But PROFONANPE consulted with 80 communities and 21 organisations in a period of only two weeks.

There is no evidence that in its meetings with 80 communities and PROFONANPE had presented the full scope of the project including the potential adverse impacts on indigenous peoples.

In November 2015, the President of the Council of the Federation of Achuar Nationality in Peru (FENAP) wrote to PROFONANPE pointing out that,

PROFONANPE has never consulted with or obtained the free, prior, and informed consent of the Achuar People of the Pastaza River basin within the jurisdiction of FENAP to either enter our territory or carry our projects with the Achuar zone.

Nevertheless, the GCF Board decide to approve PROFONANPE’s funding proposal. But GCF made disbursement conditional on the following points (among others):

The accredited entity to clarify which indigenous organizations wish to participate in the project and to obtain clear written consent from their representative organizations in order to ensure that project is only implemented in the territories of the indigenous organizations that have provided their clear consent to the project.
[ . . . ]
The accredited entity to provide the opportunity for the participating
indigenous organizations to take part in project design in dialogue with
accredited entity.

At the meeting in Zambia, the GCF Secretariat told NGOs and indigenous peoples’ organisations that PROFONANPE is an NGO and therefore should not be obliged to respect the principle of FPIC. FFP and Tebtebba describe this claim as “disputable” and argue that FPIC is an obligation that GCF must apply regardles of which organisation receives GCF funding.

FPP and Tebtebba call on the Green Climate Fund “to develop and adopt stringent social and environmental safeguards and an indigenous peoples’ policy based on international human rights standards and instruments such as those contained in the UNDRIP, as well as develop effective compliance mechanisms.”

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