What are the potential social impacts of REDD initiatives, and how can such initiatives recognize the rights and roles of indigenous and local communities?
TERI (The Energy and Resources Institute) in collaboration with UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) and CCBA (Community, Climate and Biodiversity Alliance) organized the event on 13th December during Forest day in Copenhagen. Speakers discussed - role and implications of REDD-plus for sustainable development; potential risks on rights and livelihoods of indigenous peoples and communities, and standards to mitigate these risks; and experiences of REDD-plus projects from Bolivia, Indonesia and India.
Charles Mcneil from UNDP chaired the session and started the event with a brief introduction of speakers and issues to be discussed in the event. Subsequently, Leo Peskett from ODI (Overseas Development Institute) discussed how REDD-plus could be mainstreamed into sustainable development. He highlighted the issues regarding the interface of REDD-plus with the ongoing forestry schemes. Ashish Aggarwal from TERI discussed social rights and tenure dimensions of REDD-plus. He emphasized on recognizing rights of indigenous peoples as an important part of REDD-plus. Steve Panfil from CCBA discussed how standards could be designed and adopted to mitigate the risks of REDD. Celin Quenovo from Bolivia and Wahjudi Wardojo from Indonesia presented REDD case studies from their respective countries to highlight issues at grassroots level. Mark Poffenberger from CFI (Community Forestry International) discussed potential costs and benefits from REDD-plus based on his work in India and Cambodia. The audience raised some very interesting issues which were discussed at length.
Some of the key points which emerged from the event are following.
•With REDD-plus, land and forest resources will become more valuable and
◦Could lead to elite capture of forest resources, including by State and private sector
◦Could slow recognition of community rights or could enable securing of rights
◦Could lead to marginalization or empowerment of indigenous groups and local communities
•Way forward, REDD-plus must
◦Contribute to and advance the process of recognizing and settling community rights which have social, political and economic dimensions
◦Contribute to good governance
◦Recognize and strengthen civil and political rights of indigenous peoples and local communities
◦Be consistent with United Nations Declaration of Rights of Indigenous Peoples, UN Declaration on Human Rights, and Convention on Biological Diversity
◦Must respect FPIC (free, prior, informed consent)
◦Monitor more than carbon, including respect for local rights, governance and social and environmental impacts
•It is very important to strengthen local management capacities and ensure local participation in design, implementation and monitoring of REDD-plus.
•Free prior and informed consent must get to the community level. Note that real FPIC takes time!
•There are strong reasons for delivering benefits to communities - for effective mitigation of drivers of deforestation and forest degradation, for their participation in management, to compensate for opportunity costs, and in recognition of their rights to land and resources.
•Note that REDD-plus implementation costs and opportunity costs must be covered before benefits can be shared among rights holders and stakeholders; therefore, we must manage expectations.
•Net revenues should be used to benefit the entire community and especially the poorer and vulnerable people. Some examples emerging from communities are - improved water systems, student scholarships, irrigation systems, funding for community microfinance. These livelihood transitions identified within the communities are often underway and REDD-plus could provide the capital to support them.
•The benefit sharing among stakeholders should be formalized through different kinds of agreements/contracts (e.g. tenure agreements, carbon contracts, annual work plans, budgets, net revenue sharing agreements). The capacity to negotiate and deliver on these agreements must be strengthened.
•The existing traditional systems of governance must be built upon and it should be ensured that these systems are participatory and inclusive, especially of women and other marginalized groups.
•Voluntary standards developed through multi-stakeholder participation can provide mechanisms to identify and attract support for REDD that respects local peoples’ rights, and delivers significant social and environmental benefits, and can help inform the development of policies and implementation of safeguards.
•The global/national policy framework/rules of the game needs to be informed and guided by experience of REDD-plus and related activities at the community and project levels.