Resources

UK Government insists on respect for rights in World Bank Palm Oil strategy

In response to questioning from the Forest Peoples Programme, the UK Government has affirmed that the World Bank's revised strategy on palm oil, which is still being revised, must secure community tenure and Free, Prior and Informed Consent. The Government supports legal reforms where these rights are not secure. The UK Government says it supports the temporary ban on World Bank Group funding for the sector and wants this freeze maintained until an adequate strategy has been developed and reviewed by the Board of the World Bank.

Guyana’s forest and climate plans continue to generate controversy and sideline indigenous peoples

While the President of Guyana was named a “Champion of the Earth” by the UN earlier this year in relation to his efforts to secure international support for forest protection and “low carbon” growth, some indigenous leaders and civil society organisations both inside and outside the country continue to expose and challenge the deep contradictions in the government’s forest and climate plans. In June 2010, the President of the Amerindian Peoples Association (APA) made a strong statement to the Sixth Participant’s Committee meeting of the World Bank Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) in Georgetown, asking why key land rights issues raised repeatedly by APA have still not been addressed in the Guyana Forestry Commission’s (GFC) latest REDD+ readiness proposals.

Indigenous Peoples in Paraguay seek solid guarantees for the protection of their collective rights in national REDD planning processes

Indigenous Peoples and indigenous organisations in Paraguay have worked hard in 2010 to obtain guarantees from the government and the United Nations that any policy, decision or initiative relating to REDD readiness will respect their collective rights, including rights to land and the right to free, prior and informed consent (FPIC). Through its participation in the national REDD Committee, for example, the Coordinadora por la Autodeterminación de los Pueblos Indígenas (CAPI) has stressed that the UN-REDD programme must comply fully with its own Operational Guidance on Indigenous Peoples. At the same time, CAPI has insisted that the government must fulfil its obligations under international and regional human rights treaties that the country has ratified. 

Global Environment Facility finally plans to adopt social safeguards

In October 2010, the head of the GEF, Monique Barbut, announced that the GEF would be developing safeguard policies. These safeguards will address the environmental and social impacts of projects, and specifically address the particular concerns of indigenous peoples. The safeguards will apply to all of the GEF’s Implementing and Executing Agencies and an external institution, or agency of some form, will monitor compliance. Indigenous peoples have seized this opportunity and have developed and presented a proposal to the GEF Council, outlining how a policy addressing their concerns could be developed.

Indigenous peoples strive for recognition of their rights as international agencies scramble for REDD+ deal

While inter-governmental climate negotiations (UNFCCC) still face major stumbling blocks to achieving a global agreement on climate change finance, independent initiatives on REDD+ have multiplied in the past few months. At the same time, indigenous peoples continue to express concerns that insufficient measures are being taken to respect their rights. The Governments leading the ‘Interim REDD+ Partnership’, for example, have held meetings in recent months that have not given enough space for indigenous peoples’ participation. Meanwhile the key donor agencies in the ‘Partnership’ are seeking to harmonize their REDD-related activities and finance: the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) has responsibility for ‘readiness planning’ and preparation activities (the so-called ‘first’ phase’) and then a ‘third phase’ of actual REDD actions; the World  Bank’s Forest Investment Programme (FIP) has funds for a ‘second phase’ of  implementing the ‘readiness plan’; and UN-REDD, which deals with measuring, reporting and verification (MRV), stakeholder engagement and indigenous peoples’ participation.

Slow progress in climate negotiations towards Cancun. REDD+ related outcome still unclear - risks dilution of language on indigenous peoples’ rights, safeguards.

Governments met in Tianjin (China) in early November for a UN Climate Talks session to prepare for the Conference of the Parties (COP16) taking place in Cancun (Mexico) in December. No real advancement was registered towards a legally binding agreement, with parties postponing any decision on emissions reductions to 2011 at COP17, and governments remained reluctant to make strong commitments on safeguards for REDD+. COP 16 was expected to deliver a series of COP Decisions including “Readiness phases of activities that contribute to mitigation actions in the forest sector (REDD plus).” However, the Chair of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action (AWG-LCA), Margaret Mukahanana-Sangarwe, is now aiming at a single COP decision encompassing topics on which she believes progress has been achieved (including REDD+).  

Teribe people of Costa Rica demand their rights in relation to the Diquís Dam

For over 40 years, the Costa Rican government has planned the construction of one of the largest hydroelectric dams in Central America. The plan has been modified several times due to serious criticism for its potential negative environmental and social impacts – especially on indigenous peoples. In 2008, the government of Costa Rica declared the Diquís Dam as being of public interest and national convenience, giving full support for its construction. The proposed Diquís Dam will flood more than 10% of the traditional and titled lands of the Teribe people and more than 5% of those of the Cabécar People. The Teribe people consider the Diquís Dam as a grave threat to their survival as a people, since the Teribe total around only 750 individuals.

Mott Foundation - "Protecting indigenous rights is NGOs’ shared passion"

Article on Charles Stewart Mott Foundation website, covering the work of Forest Peoples Programme and partner Sawit Watch. By Maggie Jaruzel Potter. The following is an excerpt from the article:

"Marcus Colchester, through his work with the Forest Peoples Programme (FPP), helps local NGOs and indigenous people hold governments and international financial institutions (IFIs) accountable for their investment decisions.

For many years, he says, FPP has focused its efforts on creating awareness and mobilizing Indonesians to reform the global palm oil industry, which markets its product for food, cosmetics and as bio-fuel. Since the 1980s, Colchester says, the palm oil industry has received more than $2 billion from the World Bank.

He and his FPP colleagues have many years of experience working with policymakers and IFIs directly, but they don’t start there. Instead, FPP uses the bottom-up approach like CASA, working first with people on the ground before sharing what it has learned with top-level policymakers, Colchester says.

“We take our lead from the local people,” he said. “What has been the secret to our success is our alliance with people on the ground, at the village level, who know exactly what is going on.”

"Monitoring palm oil industry to protect people and planet" - Interview with Marcus Colchester (FPP) by Maggie Jaruzel Potter, Mott Foundation

Excerpt from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation website:

"Marcus Colchester is director of the Forest Peoples Programme (FPP), a non-governmental organization (NGO) in the United Kingdom that supports the rights of those who live in forests and depend upon them for their livelihoods. FPP staff members help people secure their rights, control their land and decide their future. Mott Foundation Communications Officer Maggie Jaruzel Potter conducted a phone interview with Colchester about the organization’s work, which is supported through the International Finance for Sustainability focus area of Mott’s Environment program. This is an edited transcript of that conversation.

Brazilian advocates' and indigenous organizations' letter to Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) concerning Belo Monte hydroelectric dam project in Brazil

A group of Brazilian advocates and indigenous organizations concerned about the large Belo Monte hydroelectric dam project in Brazil have written to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), urging them to adopt the Brazil - Raposa do Sol case, which is being assisted by Forest Peoples Programme, in this October session of the Commission.

‘Unsafeguarded’ Norwegian money for REDD triggers controversy

The dismally slow progress in the intergovernmental negotiations to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases prompted the Norwegian government, in May, to fast track its own money through a parallel ad hoc financing mechanism to pay developing countries for reducing their emissions from deforestation. The process was initially set up with minimal participation but, in response to protests, the Norwegian Government insisted that it would require respect for indigenous peoples’ rights and sound governance. These claims are beginning to seem increasingly hollow.

Palm Oil, Human Rights and the World Bank - Update

Since the 1980s, the World Bank Group has invested more than US$2 billion to promote the global trade in palm oil. The expansion of the crop in intensive mono-cultures, especially in Southeast Asia, has been associated with the extensive clearance of tropical forests, land grabbing and widespread human rights abuses. In response to our complaints, the World Bank Group froze funding for the sector worldwide while it came up with a comprehensive strategy for engagement. A first draft document was released in July for comments. It has failed to address the main issues raised in the consultation, therefore Forest Peoples Programme and its partners have again appealed to the World Bank President for a rethink. 

The IFC extends review of its Performance Standards and related policies

The International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector arm of the World Bank, announced in 2009 that it would be reviewing the social and environmental policies and standards that it uses to guide and regulate its lending in vulnerable sectors. This review has been on-going and has seen extensive engagement by civil society and by indigenous peoples’ representatives and organisations.  Although the review was expected to end in August 2010, the IFC has just announced an extension to this process.

Cameroon REDD community consultations

In July 2010, Baka, Bagyeli and Bakola forest people – together with their local support NGOs – conducted consultations in southern Cameroon to inform their communities about potential REDD projects. They were very clear that climate change was already affecting their lives and that they fear REDD projects might not benefit them. Indeed, there are about seven REDD projects currently planned in Cameroon. According to recent FPP fieldwork, in at least two of the projects, the local communities have not even been informed. See a related press release

India Dongria Kondh, Orissa

Urgent action letter calling on Government of India to respect the rights of indigenous peoples.