By Chris Lang
The Indigenous Kichwa community of Puerto Franco is taking the Peruvian Government and the Cordillera Azul National Park to court. The Kichwa community is challenging the Peruvian State’s failure to title their traditional lands, as well as the imposition of exclusionary conservation and a REDD carbon trading scheme on their lands – without their consent.
A press statement on Forest Peoples Programme’s website explains that the lawsuit in the Mixed Court of Bellavista makes the following demands of Peru’s National Service of Natural Protected Areas (SERNANP):
- Carry out a free and informed consultation process for Supreme Decree 031-2001-AG which created the Cordillera Azul National Park and the Cordillera Azul National Park’s Master Plan;
- Respects the right of those Indigenous communities whose lands are superimposed by the Cordillera Azul National Park to benefit from conservation activities within their territories;
- Instructs park-guards to permit access to members of Puerto Franco and other affected communities to their natural resources and their traditional subsistence activities pending the prior consultation process;
- Upholds the right of those Indigenous Peoples superimposed by the PNCAZ to participate in the management of the area in line with their right to self- determination.
The Peruvian Government declared 1.35 million hectares of Cordillera Azul a National Park in May 2001. The Government did so without the consent of the Indigenous Peoples whose territories the park overlaps.
“The State has confused the people because there was no prior consultation.
“They did not consult the creation of the National Park with us as Indigenous Peoples, as Kichwa, nor their forestry concessions, and they have disregarded our territorial rights.
“We defend our territory and this lawsuit is in support of our claim over our territory, so that no one can discriminate against our environmental practices.”
The Kichwa have occupied their territories and forests for generations – since before the creation of the Peruvian State. Yet the majority of their territories remain untitled.
Isidro Sangama, vice-president of the Ethnic Council of the Kichwa Peoples of the Amazon (CEPKA) says,
“This lawsuit is a call to the State to return us the territory which they have taken without the Puerto Franco community’s consent, which today lives with the impacts.
“The State frequently grants rights to third-parties without even consulting our Indigenous communities and organisations, it does as it likes with Indigenous territories, but we the Kichwa are the ones caring for the forests.
“The State thinks that this territory is in this condition and remains forested due to the care of the National Park, but they forget that in fact this territory has been cared for by Indigenous communities for years.”
Cordillera Azul National Park REDD project
In 2002, a company called CIMA (Centro de Conservación, Investigación y Manejo de Áreas Naturales) signed an agreement with the Peruvian Government to manage the national park.
Since 2008, CIMA has run the Cordillera Azul National Park REDD project. According to VERRA’s website the project has sold a total of 25,240,371 carbon credits.
But the Kichwa community has not benefitted from the millions of dollars raised from the sale of carbon credits. Marco Sangama, member and adviser to CEPKA, says,
“We understand that this park has benefitted from carbon credits. Despite this, the community has not benefitted, even when they are conserving their lands.”
The Indigenous Kichwa community faces the impacts of exclusionary conservation, while the carbon credits from the Cordillera Azul National Park REDD project allow the greenwashing of on-going pollution.
In 2018, Liverpool City Council announced a year-long trial partnership with the Poseidon Foundation to offset the emissions of all products and services in Liverpool. The carbon credits came from Cordillera Azul. The Poseidon Foundation also partnered with Ben & Jerry’s ice cream to use blockchain technology to link buying ice cream with buying carbon credits.
In August 2018, the World Bank bought 455 carbon credits from Cordillera Azul to offset the emissions from the World Bank office in Lima.
Peru’s Ministry of the Environment has also bought carbon credits from Cordillera Azul to count towards Peru’s Nationally Determined Contribution under the UNFCCC.
Buyers also include oil and gas companies, airlines and international transport companies: Shell, Gazprom, China National Offshore Oil Corporation, CPC Corporation, Taiwan, Tokyo Gas, CEPSA, GS Energy Trading Singapore, ENEOS Corporation, Repsol, Enagás, British Airways, Etihad, Delta, Qantas, and Kuehne + Nagel.
Shell makes the ridiculous claim that it can deliver “carbon neutral” Liquefied Natural Gas, thanks to carbon credits bought from Cordillera Azul and other “nature-based projects”.
Tom Younger, Forest Peoples Programme’s Peru Programme Coordinator, points out that,
“In a climate emergency, so-called ‘nature-based solutions’ based on the continuing dispossession of Indigenous Peoples and opaque carbon credits for some of the most polluting companies on the planet are a dangerous distraction.”
This post is part of a series of posts on REDD-Monitor looking at REDD and environmental injustice in the Andes Amazon.