FPP together with EU NGOs has today released a shared vision calling on the EU to take action on deforestation and forest degradation, with respect for human rights and good governance of land tenure at its core.
In two newly released reports, indigenous leaders point out that the current concession allocations system in Guyana is unjust, severely flawed and facilitated by a national legal framework that does not fully respect their internationally protected rights to their customary lands and resources.
“The foreign companies come and they have legal rights and we the people who have been living here all the time do not have legal rights.” [Resident, Kwebanna village]
This statement was presented by the indigenous representatives participating in a seminar organised by the Amerindian Peoples Association in Georgetown, February 2015.
In April and May 2013 the Amerindian Peoples’ Association (APA) of Guyana and a consortium of European NGOs, including Forest Peoples Programme, sent letters to the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC) and the European Commission (EU) respectively, expressing concerns about rushed consultation processes and a lack of meaningful participation by forest dependent communities in the FLEGT process.
Cameroon’s 1994 Forest Code is being reformed and civil society has serious and urgent concerns about the process by which the reforms are taking place and the content of the draft reform proposals.
The British government is currently finalising its plans to help curb global deforestation as part of the UK’s £2.9 billion dedicated international climate fund (ICF). The ICF has been set up by the UK to ‘help developing countries tackle climate change and poverty’ and includes a specific forest component that is currently being developed by the Departments for International Development (DFID) and Energy and Climate Change (DECC). A portion of the funds have already been allocated for the government’s Forest Governance, Markets and Climate programme, which is geared towards helping FLEGT countries to ‘continue and accelerate efforts to tackle illegal logging…..and supporting supply chain traceability for timber’. It appears that the UK government now plans to extend this work to other commodities that are currently driving deforestation such as soya and palm oil.
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.
Conservation organisations have been making great strides towards recognising that protected areas must respect the rights of indigenous peoples as enshrined in international law, including the right to give or withhold their free prior and informed consent to the establishment of new protected areas in their customary territories. Yet in practice conservation organisations often continue to exclude local people from using forest and other resources, and only consult them after they have drawn up management plans rather than jointly writing them.