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.
The Minister also announced an official process to review the inclusion of Indigenous Peoples’ rights in REDD activities and policies undertaken by the British government. It is unclear whether this is the same review process that is currently being conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers to assess where and how the UK will spend REDD finance. This review is due to be completed by the end of March 2011, but only began contacting civil society organizations at the start of February 2011.
In response to this and previous presentations, Onel Masardule, representing the Kuna peoples of Panama, said that “we should not pay too much attention to what governments are saying because their climate change policies are contradictory. On the one hand they are telling people to protect the forests and at the same time they are promoting large scale development projects that are causing their destruction”.
Mr Masardule emphasised the danger for Indigenous Peoples if REDD programmes begin operating in areas where Indigenous Peoples’ land claims are still not recognized. In conclusion, he argued that to be successful, REDD must incorporate three key aspects: First, the recognition of the rights of Indigenous Peoples over territories and forests; second, compliance with the obligation to seek the Free Prior and Informed Consent of Indigenous Peoples; and finally, inclusion of a mechanism to ensure that safeguards are guaranteed. He warned that without these three commitments REDD would only create further conflicts within Indigenous Peoples and between Indigenous Peoples and their respective nations.