Global Climate Talks: Business as Usual or Progress on Social and Rights Issues?

Global Climate Talks: Business as Usual or Progress on Social and Rights Issues?

•    Low likelihood that Durban will deliver a binding and comprehensive agreement on GHG reductions •    No agreement on long-term climate financing while Green Climate Fund talks proceed with difficulty •    Limited progress on a Safeguards Information System in REDD+ •    UNFCCC considers non-carbon values of REDD+ •    Indigenous Peoples adopt “Oaxaca Action Plan” on climate

Governments gathering in Durban in late November for COP17 of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) face a daunting task. They will have to make progress on crafting an agreement on greenhouse gas emissions reductions within an effective, monitorable and binding legal framework, while securing the necessary financial resources needed to support developing countries on their path towards low carbon development. The survival of the Kyoto protocol is at stake. Some countries will not support the second commitment period: the United States is advocating for a “pledge and review” system, while other countries propose a broader instrument that would engage both developed and developing countries. So far, only a very small percentage of the US$30 billion fast-track financing (announced in Copenhagen two years ago) has been allocated to developing countries, while no clear commitment has emerged regarding the annual US$100 billion envisaged until 2020. Outcomes of the latest UNFCCC pre-COP session held in Panama in early October suggest that there is only a slim chance of reaching a consensus on emissions reduction and long-term financing, however, some progress on REDD+ was registered. The Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) work-plan to develop guidance on a Safeguards Information System in REDD+ is underway. An expert workshop held in Panama soon after the UNFCCC pre-COP discussed the characteristics of the system. Participants, however, fell short of defining to what extent Indigenous Peoples’ rights will be recognized and respected in such a system and how much data on progress in respecting safeguards in REDD+ would be included. The dedicated contact group of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action (AWG-LCA) that met in Panama converged on a call for a specific decision on REDD+ financing in Durban. However, it is unlikely that any clear indication will emerge regarding the prevalence of public versus private financing for REDD+, and governments would therefore be left free to pursue various options or combinations. But, Parties did agree that when assessing the results upon which to base payments for REDD+, that values other than carbon will have to be taken into account, including livelihoods, biodiversity and poverty alleviation. If confirmed in Durban, this would represent a significant shift from the almost exclusive focus on carbon that has characterised the debate so far, possibly opening the door further for consideration of the social, environmental and rights-related aspects of REDD+. There was also substantial convergence on including a REDD+ window within the Green Climate Fund. Nevertheless, the road towards the establishment of the Fund is also an uphill one. At the last meeting of the Transitional Committee held in Cape Town in mid-October, the US and Saudi Arabia opposed the final document containing recommendations for the Fund’s design that has been sent to the COP for their consideration. During the Cape Town meeting it also became clear that a decision on the definition of safeguards will be postponed and delegated to the Fund’s Board. No agreement was met on a REDD+ window. In the meantime, Indigenous Peoples from all over the world met in Mexico and launched the “Oaxaca Action Plan” to inform their advocacy and outreach activities in Durban and beyond.  Key demands relate to: the recognition of Indigenous Peoples’ rights in all climate related activities; the role of traditional knowledge and livelihoods; and the need to secure direct access to funding and decision-making processes at all levels. Forest Peoples Programme will be in Durban at COP17 to support Indigenous Peoples’ delegations and to hold a Side-Event on REDD Safeguards and Indigenous Peoples Perspectives together with Rainforest Foundation Norway.

Further Information:Forest Peoples Programme (FPP) and Rainforest Foundation Norway (RFN) Side Event at COP17, Durban - Safeguards in REDD and the Green Climate Fund - 9 December 2011, 13.15 - 14.45, Room 2, Durban Exhibition Centre (DEC): How to achieve rights-based forest management? FPP, RFN and partners present new evidence on how rights-based management contributes to reducing deforestation in developing countries.  Implications for the negotiations on safeguards in REDD and the Green Climate Fund is discussed by government and NGO representatives. Further Reading:Materials on the SBSTA workshop on a System of Information on Safeguards, including the Co-Chairs’ Report: http://unfccc.int/methods_science/redd/items/6149.phpFPP and JOAS Submission to SBSTA on a System of Information on Safeguards:http://www.forestpeoples.org/topics/un-framework-convention-climate-change-unfccc/publication/2011/submission-sbsta-regarding-sysReport on the AWG-LCA contact group on REDD+ financing: Update No. 16 at http://www.twnside.org.sg/title2/climate/panama01.htmIndigenous Peoples’ Oaxaca Action Plan:http://www.forestpeoples.org/topics/redd-and-related-initiatives/news/2011/10/oaxaca-action-plan-indigenous-peoples-cancun-durbanForest Peoples Programme Fact Sheet on the Green Climate Fund: http://www.forestpeoples.org/topics/un-framework-convention-climate-change-unfccc/publication/2011/green-climate-fund-and-transit