This article seeks to touch base with the policy objectives of the European Union (EU)’s 2003 Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (‘FLEGT’) Action Plan, and highlight lessons learnt during Forest Peoples Programme’s EU-funded Strong Seat at the Table project. With partners Centre pour l'Environnement et le Développement (Centre for the Environment and for Development, CED), FERN and ClientEarth, the ‘Strong Seat’ project supported the legal capacity of civil society partners engaged in VPA-related legal reforms in West and Central Africa.
Please join FERN, Forest Peoples Programme, ClientEarth and the Centre for the Environment and for Development (CED) for a short presentation on the findings of "a strong seat at the table", an EU funded project to strengthen land tenure rights in Africa. It will include the launch of a new guide on securing land tenure reform in Africa titled "Securing land and resource rights in Africa: a guide to legal reform and best practice" and will be followed by Forest Drinks.
By Samuel Nnah Ndobe. The notion of indigenous people has sometimes been controversial in Africa. There are some opinions that consider all Africans as indigenous people liberated from colonial powers, while others simply stress that it is very difficult to determine who is indigenous in Africa.
The "land grabbing" in Africa and elsewhere often triggers conflict, an underreported financial risk.
Samuel Nguiffo is the Secretary General of the Centre for Environment and Development (CED), Cameroon. He is currently being sued by the government of Cameroon for tarnishing the state's reputation when he advocated against an oil palm plantation concession.
Click here to view the English webcast recording of the panel discussion on the rural development choices facing leaders of developing countries hosted by Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI) and Forest Peoples Programme (FPP)
Ngoyla-Mintom is a forested mountainous region which derives its name from two districts in two regions of Cameroon: Ngoyla in the Eastern Region and Mintom in the Southern Region. This rainforest has gained fame through being targeted for various purposes by different actors, including the Cameroon government, private companies and the international community. In recent months, Ngoyla-Mintom has gained the reputation of being a previously unexploited forest bloc, which has very rapidly aroused the interest of Cameroon’s Ministry of Forestry who are interested in selling parts of the forest at auction to private logging companies.
As part of its REDD+ preparation, Cameroon submitted on 6 August 2012 the draft of its REDD Readiness Preparation Proposal (R-PP) to the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) managed by the World Bank.
Following the recommendation of the national validation workshop held in Ebolowa, Cameroon in June 2012, members of Cameroonian civil society met as part of the Forests and Communities Platform (Plateforme Forêts et Communautés) from 11 to 13 September 2012, to analyse the strengths and areas for improvement of the R-PP.
Indonesia’s largest palm oil company, Sinar Mas, ran into trouble recently when communities in Liberia complained about a 33,000 ha.
The right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) in the Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) Principles and Criteria establishes how equitable agreements between local communities and companies (and governments) can be developed in ways that ensure the legal and customary rights of indigenous peoples and other local rights-holders are respected.
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:
In October 2011, Forest Peoples Programme (FPP) conducted a survey of our local partners asking them to pinpoint key experiences and emerging lessons learned in relation to REDD+ and rights issues over the last three years. Partners who contributed include the Centre for Environment and Development (CED) and Association Okani (Cameroon), CEDEN (DRC), Foundation for the Promotion of Traditional Knowledge (Panama), Amerindian Peoples Association (Guyana), Association of Village Leaders in Suriname, Association of Saamaka Authorities (Suriname), AIDESEP (Peru), Federation for the Self-Determination of Indigenous Peoples (Paraguay) and Scale-up, Pusaka and FPP field staff (Indonesia). Observations and lessons are also drawn from workshops with local partners, field studies and issues stemming from indigenous peoples’ representatives in dialogues with national and international REDD+ policy-makers. Key observations and lessons are summarised below.
In dialogue with parliament and the government
Compared to the 1990s and the start of the 21st century, the question of giving recognition to the indigenous peoples of Cameroon has, in recent years, become a central issue, if still in a somewhat tentative way.
Indeed, on the 1st and 2nd of September 2011 in Yaounde, Cameroon, parliament and the government held a dialogue on indigenous peoples. The meeting brought together members of the National Assembly (under the umbrella of the Parliamentarians’ Network, REPAR), representatives of ministries with projects affecting indigenous peoples, development partners, UN special representatives and a substantial delegation of indigenous peoples: Baka, Bakola, Bagyeli and Bororo. A new phenomenon was the willingness to consider what is involved in giving recognition to indigenous communities, as was demonstrated by the extensive question and answer sessions between the members of the National Assembly and the indigenous peoples.
Hosted by ‘Le Centre pour l’Environnement et le Développement’ (CED), and co-organised by FPP with partners CED, FERN and ClientEarth, the African Community Rights Network (ACRN) regional four-day workshop on securing community rights to forest lands took place from 12-16 September in Douala, Cameroon. The workshop brought together around 50 representatives from civil society organisations (CSOs) and communities from seven countries in the Congo basin, Ghana and Liberia, as well as land tenure expert, Liz Alden Wily. The workshop was funded by the European Union and the Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI).
The workshop culminated in position statements to government, and to civil society and communities. The statements expressed the conclusions of participants that the central and urgent issue to be addressed was how community rights to customary lands and resources could be secured as property rights in national laws. The statements also set out the means for securing this formal protection and supporting community governance. This common vision was presented to officials from Cameroon’s government on the final morning of the workshop by Silas Siakor, director of the Liberian ‘Sustainable Development Institute’ (SDI), on behalf of the workshop.
The recognition of indigenous peoples’ rights is a recent development on the African continent. The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights has, over the last decade, given heightened attention to indigenous peoples’ rights, notably through the creation of its Working Group on Indigenous Populations/Communities (WGIP) in 2000. This is mostly due to the efforts of civil society organisations which have documented the obstacles faced by indigenous peoples in the enjoyment of their individual and collective rights, and which have brought the many instances where these rights have been violated to the attention of the Commission.
A new report by Forest Peoples Programme gives a critical and in-depth overview of the social aspects of projects intended to Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) in Cameroon. REDD and Rights In Cameroon: A review of the treatment of Indigenous Peoples and local communities in policies and projects shows that Indigenous Peoples and local communities are unlikely to gain from REDD as it stands and they might even be harmed by it.
Even though Cameroon’s national “REDD readiness” process is only in its first stages, so-called “pilot” or sub-national REDD projects are proliferating all over the country, potentially affecting 30% of forested land. Many organisations are jumping into REDD projects without necessarily thinking about the people who live in, and have been caring for, these forests.
"We are excited about this garden at the Chelsea Flower Show. It provides a wonderful opportunity to raise awareness among the wider public about the many challenges facing African forest peoples. These include discrimination and violation of their rights, the impact of industrial expansion and deforestation, and the loss of access to forest biodiversity upon which communities rely."