REDD Violation of the right to be consulted paves way for more REDD land grabbing

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REDD has been contentious ever since it was presented during UN climate talks in Bali, Indonesia, in 2007 as a way to supposedly reduce deforestation. In addition to pointing out that REDD as a carbon market instrument is a false solution to climate change, many indigenous peoples in particular have expressed concern that REDD will undermine indigenous peoples’ rights, become a mechanism that divides communities and will put indigenous peoples’ control over and access to their traditional territories at risk. Despite many promises by international institutions like UN-REDD and the World Bank’s FCPF to respect indigenous peoples’ rights and to ensure ‘FPIC’, ‘Free, Prior and Informed Consent’ in their REDD initiatives, and to apply ‘safeguards’, the risks many indigenous peoples warned about already in 2007 are becoming reality. In Panama and Honduras indigenous peoples’ organisations have exposed how rights to ‘FPIC’ have been violated in national REDD processes.

In Panama, no guarantees for respecting indigenous rights

On 27 February 2013, Traditional Authorities of the Indigenous Peoples in Panama, through their Coordinating Body, COONAPIP, withdrew from the UN-REDD initiative in Panama. In a letter announcing the withdrawal, COONAPIP explains that UN-REDD “does not currently offer guarantees for respecting indigenous rights” or “the full and effective participation of the Indigenous Peoples of Panama”.

In his 10 March 2013 letter in support of the COONAIP decision to withdraw from the UN-REDD process in Panama, Jesus Amadeo Martinez, Senior Advisor to the Central American Indigenous Council (Consejo Indígena de Centro América – CICA), writes that “In my capacity as Senior Advisor of the CICA, I worry that the actions of the UN-REDD program in Panama with COONAPIP are not isolated, but form a new practice of racial intolerance and discrimination with Indigenous Peoples and organisations.”

In Honduras, REDD facilitates loss of territories and increasing landgrabbing

Honduras was one of the six countries to present its national REDD plans to the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility in March 2013. The experience with the preparation of the documents in Honduras resembles those in many other countries where indigenous peoples and local community organisations have been side-lined in the process.

In a statement of 3 April 2013, OFRANEH (Organización Fraternal Negra Hondureña) writes that “Once again the state of Honduras violates the right to consultation granted in the ILO Convention 169 and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, to join the program on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) by excluding the Garifuna peoples of the consultation process in the development of the so-called R-PP (Readiness Preparation Proposal) funded by the Partnership Facility Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF for its acronym in English) and the UN-REDD Programme.” (original: Una vez más el estado de Honduras viola el derecho a la consulta consignado en el Convenio 169 de la OIT y en la Declaración de Naciones Unidas sobre los Derechos de los Pueblos Indígenas, al incorporarse al programa de Reducción de las Emanaciones Causados por la Deforestación y Degradación del Bosque (REDD+) al haber excluido al pueblo Garífuna del proceso de consulta en la elaboración del denominado R-PP (Readiness Preparation Proposal) financiado por el Fondo Cooperativo para el Carbono de los Bosques (FCPF por sus siglas en inglés) y el Programa ONU-REDD.”)

OFRANEH further exposes how in “the draft R-PP dated September 2012, OFRANEH is mentioned as ‘The organization that shapes indigenous policies in the Garifuna territories, is involved in advocacy and ensures the rights of the peoples’”; that the same draft also includes the organization’s name as participant of capacity and pre-consultation workshops that ONFRANEH was never made aware of nor participated in, and how in the R-PP of March 2013 that was presented to the FCPF meeting in Washington, OFRANEH is not even mentioned anymore as the organization representing the Garifuna peoples. (original: En el borrador del denominado R-PP de septiembre del 2012 , la OFRANEH es mencionada como "La organización que dicta las políticas indígenas en los territorios Garífunas, hace incidencia política y vela por el derecho del pueblo", ademas en el mismo borrador se incluye a la organización en los talleres de socialización y preconsulta que nunca fueron realizados. Como por arte de magia y sin haber contactado los funcionarios estatales o de Naciones Unidas a nuestra organización, en el R-PP de marzo del 2013 , la OFRANEH desaparece del documento como la organización representante del pueblo Garífuna.)

In its 2005 report, the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) documented among othersthe connection between politicians and those who deforest in Honduras. Yet, the REDD plan presented to the World Bank FCPF fails to mention these links, or proposals for how to tackle this collusion that continues to result in forest loss. Instead, OFRANEH and others are concerned that REDD+ in Honduras will turn “into a plunder of indigenous peoples' territories”, and will facilitate the loss of territories and increase landgrabbing.

They point out that the same institution that now is involved in REDD, the World Bank, has for over a decade been promoting a controversial Property Law that was adopted by the Honduran state in 2004. A petition to repeal the law is currently pending before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR). The law poses a serious threat to communal titling of indigenous peoples’ territories and favour individual title of indigenous territories, a trend that indigenous peoples’ associations have been concerned about in relation to REDD.

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