As multiple international agencies adopt and update their social and environmental policies, this special edition Forest Peoples Programme E-Newsletter reviews experiences of communities and civil society with the safeguard policies of various international financial institutions.
Projects and programme interventions of multilateral development banks have a record of systematic and widespread human rights violations for indigenous peoples in Asia. In many countries, indigenous peoples have been subjected to widespread displacement and irreversible loss of traditional livelihoods. Behind these human rights violations is the denial of indigenous peoples’ rights to their lands, territories and resources and to their right to give their free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) to projects and programme interventions, including those in the name of sustainable development and human development. Among them, the large infrastructure (dams and highway construction) and environmental “conservation” projects have had the most detrimental adverse impacts on indigenous peoples. There are a good number of examples of such projects that have negatively impacted indigenous peoples’ communities in Asian countries, some of which follow below.
The following article, by Maurizio Farhan-Ferrari, Coordinator of the FPP's Environmental Governance Programme, has just been published on the Landscapes Blog for People, Food and Nature:
Synthesis Paper - Customary sustainable use of biodiversity by indigenous peoples and local communities: Examples, challenges, community initiatives and recommendations relating to CBD Article 10(c)
A Synthesis Paper based on Case Studies from Bangladesh, Cameroon, Guyana, Suriname, Venezuela, Suriname and Thailand.
Cyclone Aila hit the south-western coastal belt of Bangladesh, more specifically the Satkhira and Khulna Districts, on 25 May 2009, affecting almost 2.3 million people and immediately killing 325. The tidal surge, which measured 10-13m, inundated the region and washed away huge numbers of houses, livestock, crops and other resources within a very short time.
With the rapid growth of industrial prawn production there has been a corresponding upsurge in eco-label certification schemes that seek to improve the industry. However, meaningful human rights considerations are rarely incorporated in the formulation of these schemes. The Forest Peoples Programme (FPP) continues to work with coastal community networks to raise awareness of the problems of industrial aquaculture and to push for meaningful human rights considerations in the development of future eco-labelling schemes.
The sustainable customary practices of indigenous peoples, the subject of Article 10(c) of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), will be one of the main topics at the upcoming meeting of the CBD Working Group on Article 8(j) and Related Provisions (WG-8(j) 6) in Montreal from 2-6 November 2009. A key question on the agenda asks how Parties to the Convention can improve implementation of this important article. The message of indigenous and local communities, submitted ahead of the meeting, is that secure rights to land and resources is a necessary condition to achieve effective implementation of Article 10(c).
On 25 May cyclone Aila swept through the villages of traditional resource-users of the Sundarbans forest, Bangladesh. Disasters like Aila (2009) and Sidr (2007) have forced more than a million people to lose their homes and to migrate from their regions. Kushal Roy, Senior Research Associate with FPP partner Unnayan Onneshan, reports on the trail of destruction left by Aila and asks whether the increasingly volatile weather patterns are a direct result of global climate change.
A joint statement from Amnesty International Australia and 93 other non-government organisations voices concern over reports that Rohingyas from Burma and migrants from Bangladesh have been forcibly expelled and abandoned in international waters by the Thai security forces since December 2008.
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Amnesty International Australia has joined with 93 other non-government organisations, which work on behalf of refugees and migrants in the Asia-Pacific, to condemn human rights violations committed recently against members of the Rohingya minority and Bangladeshi migrants.
The organisations are from such diverse countries as Bangladesh, Burma, Australia, India, Egypt, Malaysia, UK, Indonesia, South Africa, Thailand, US, Zambia and Nepal.
Bonn, Germany The findings of two new reports launched today at the Convention on Biological Diversity emphatically demonstrate that global biodiversity will continue to be lost if Protected Areas fail to recognise and respect the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities. The research, conducted in the largest mangrove forest in the world, conversely shows that customary use is fully compatible with conservation and sustainability.
This report highlights the connection between biodiversity conservation and forest peoples' livelihoods and customary use. It shows how the current Forest Department-led management continues to threaten the long-term survival of the forest and the people. The traditional resource users call for an urgent shift towards community-based and collaborative management of the Sundarbans to ensure a future both for its biodiversity and its people.
The US$77.3m Sundarbans Biodiversity Conservation Project was suspended three years early because of its failure to conserve biological diversity and reduce poverty in the Sundarbans. This report provides an analysis of the project's design flaws and consequent disintegration, and identifies means of making good the damage done.
HARD COPY ONLY - AVAILABLE FROM THE FPP OFFICE: firstname.lastname@example.org
47 pages Unnayan Onneshan, Nijera kori, FPP
FPP analysis of 23 GEF projects into its treatment of indigenous peoples' rights and social issues in the design of its large conservation projects - in Bangladesh, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Guyana, India, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Suriname and Venezuela
The Bangladesh government is planning to settle many more thousands of plains people on the ancestral lands of indigenous peoples in the Chittagong Hill Tracts against the will of affected communities. This culturally and ecologically destructive proposal threatens to violate the fundamental rights of indigenous peoples and destroy valuable forest ecosystems, including the Kassalong forests.
This statement was jointly issued by representatives of the National Adivasi Coordination Committee, Bangladesh Adivasi Forum, Hill Tracts NGO Forum, Committee for the Protection of Forest and Land Rights in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, Hill Women's Federation, Rakhain Development Foundation, Mro Social Council, Tripura Kalyan Foundation, Khashia Students’ Association, Bawm Social Council, Trinamul Unnayan Sangstha, Zabarang Kalyan Samiti, Abima Garo Youth Association (AGYA), Society for Environment & Human Development (SEHD) and Taungya, and included representatives of the Bawm, Chakma, Garo, Khasi, Marma, Mro, Rakhain, Santal, Tanchangya and Tripura peoples from different parts of Bangladesh. The list of signatories is annexed hereto.