By Chris Lang
On 13 November 2020, the Green Climate Fund approved funding of US$62 million for a REDD project in Nicaragua. This deeply problematic project is titled, “Bio-CLIMA: Intergrated climate action to reduce deforestation and strengthen resilience in Bosawás and Rio San Juan Biospheres”.
The funding was approved despite the risks of conflict, criminalisation and repression of critical voices associated with the project. Before the GCF funded the project, World Rainforest Movement pointed out the flaws in the project in a letter to the GCF Board Members:
This funding application underscores why the Green Climate Fund must urgently stop providing funds for REDD: The biased and incomplete description of drivers of deforestation and the worrying activities that result from this inadequate analysis presented in FP146 expose REDD once more as a concept that has failed to contribute to addressing the drivers of deforestation. Worse, its implementation puts people’s livelihoods and even lives at risk and exacerbates conflict, both between state agencies and REDD project proponents and communities exercising their customary rights to land as well as between and within communities.
The GCF and the Accredited Entity (the Central American Bank for Economic Integration) have not signed the Funded Activity Agreement for the project and no funds have been dispursed.
On 30 June 2021, the GCF’s Independent Redress Mechanism received a complaint about the Bio-CLIMA project. The complainant(s) requested confidentiality and the complaint is therefore not published on the Independent Redress Mechanism’s website.
On 21 July 2021, the Independent Redress Mechanism declared the complaint eligible. The eligibility determination report lists the following concerns about the project raised by the complainant(s):
- they welcome the objectives of the project. However, the main concern is around the design and the implementation of the project;
- the project itself will harm indigenous and Afro-descendant communities as prior to the approval of the project, there was no proper consultation with communities, including no free, prior, and informed consent (FPIC);
- they fear that the Bio-CLIMA project will repeat history, including leading to environmental degradation and attacks by armed non-indigenous settlers against indigenous communities, resulting in the continuing usurpation of traditional and ancestral lands;
- the indigenous communities affected by this project have been victims of multiple attacks, and the communities fear that the attention and money this project brings could further increase these attacks;
- the AE’s actions do not seem to comply with the GCF’s policies, especially on participation and information disclosure;
- the GCF Board imposed special conditions while approving the project to protect indigenous communities, and these conditions provide an opportunity to alleviate some of the risks to communities and to ensure the proper implementation of the project;
- however, the GCF Board conditions placed on the project, especially related to the implementation of FPIC and to the selection of independent third party monitor(s), will not be defined and complied with effectively, and therefore communities will be harmed. There is no certainty that the conditions will achieve their purpose of ensuring respect for the rights of indigenous peoples and proper supervision of the project for the benefit of the communities;
- the Board’s conditions will only serve its purpose if it is implemented in a way that includes the participation of the affected communities and of civil society that monitors the GCF, and the project is properly supervised through the appointment of independent third parties as set out in the Board’s conditions; and
- the executing entity will not fulfil its obligations in the implementation of the BioCLIMA project.