Growing global demand for palm oil is fuelling the large-scale expansion of oil palm plantations across Southeast Asia and Africa. Concerns about the environmental and social impacts of the conversion of vast tracts of land to monocrop plantations led in 2004 to the establishment of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), which encourages oil palm expansion in ways that do not destroy high conservation values or cause social conflict. Numerous international agencies have also called for reforms of national frameworks to secure communities’ rights and to develop sound land governance.
Fifteen organisations working with indigenous women, including Forest Peoples Programme, have joined forces to emphasise the injustice and multiple forms of discrimination suffered by indigenous women in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (the Committee). States are required to submit reports to the Committee every four years, describing legislative, judicial, administrative or other measures they have adopted to implement the provisions of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (the Convention). The DRC’s report will be examined by the Committee on 11 July 2013 in the presence of a delegation of Congolese government representatives. The proceedings can be watched live online at: http://www.treatybodywebcast.org/.
The Second Regional Workshop on Gender and Land and Forest Tenure in Africa will take place from the 9th to the 14th of October 2012 in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.
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.
A regional workshop entitled ‘Gender and land tenure in Africa’ will take place from July 26 to 29, 2011 in Edea, Cameroon. Organized by Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI), the Réseau des Femmes Africaines pour la Gestion Communautaire des Forêts (REFACOF), and Forest Peoples Programme (FPP), this workshop’s goals include creating a discussion forum on gender, rights to land, and forest resources in Africa and clarifying the applicable legal framework and protection mechanisms created to secure the rights to land and resources. This workshop will also provide an opportunity to share information on land and forest reforms that are taking place in several African countries. It will bring together approximately thirty participants, including representatives from forest communities and indigenous peoples.
The 9th RRI Dialogue on Forests, Governance and Climate Change, co-organized with Forest Peoples Programme, Tebtebba and Forest Trends, took place in London, UK on 8 February 2011. The Dialogue drew together a number of key actors involved in REDD, including representatives from Indigenous Peoples organizations, governments of UK Mexico and Norway, the banking sector, NGOs and researchers.
The consensus emerging from the discussion was that REDD should not proceed before clear safeguards are put in place. Gregory Barker, British minister of State, Department for Energy and Climate Change outlined that before REDD projects take place, it is crucial to assess drivers of deforestation, secure clarity of land tenure and ensure equitable benefit-sharing for Indigenous Peoples. To that end, he assured that the UK government will apply safeguards in bilateral REDD agreements with Indigenous Peoples and local communities. Despite this commitment he avoided mentioning whether the UK would push for stronger safeguards in the readiness processes of the World Bank’s FCPF initiative.