Press Releases

  • For TERI and RRI institutional, governance and dweller rights issues in forestry important for achieving sustainable development

    18 August 2009

    "A need to look at multiple benefits of forests rather than narrowing it down as a medium to combat climate change" – Dr R K Pachauri

    Forests hold immense potential for addressing mitigation and adaptation efforts that are required to restrict the effects of climate change. Forest tenure rights and its governance are significant issues in any discussion on the role of forests. More efforts are needed to (a) recognise human rights; (b) clarify rights to property, access and use; (c) enable local enterprise development, and (d) encourage the transparency and accountability necessary for markets and governance to develop. The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) and the Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI), with support from DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs), UK, held a two-day workshop - 'Community Rights, Forests and Climate Change' that addressed the issue of forest dwellers' rights in India. Present on the occasion were, Dr R K Pachauri, Director-General, TERI, Mr Arvind Khare, Director, Rights and Resources Initiative, Dr. P.J. Dilip Kumar, Director-General of Forests and Special Secretary MoEF, and Dr Arabinda Mishra, Director, TERI along with 40 distinguished participants representing both government and civil society from Brazil, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Cameroon, Tanzania, Nepal, Indonesia, and India

    During the inaugural session, Mr. Opoku, Director Civic Response Ghana said that the peasant community would like a reorientation of the climate change discourse that is historically meaningful and reflects their views as they are facing the worst impacts of climate change. Mr. Ghanshyam Pandey, Chairperson Federation of Community Forest Users, Nepal, the largest organisation of forest community elaborated that people understand climate change through their daily experiences like early ripening of crops etc. he stressed that the negotiators at the world forum should stress on the need to acknowledge and recognise those who are conserving forests and should think of ways to save community sovereignty from climate change colonisation.

    Elaborating on the role of forests in combating climate change, Dr R K Pachauri, said "Scientific knowledge and science and technology have not kept pace with forestry issues. Knowledge in this sector is essential in order to bring about change. We need to look at adaptation measures when we talk about climate change and it is in this realm, forests and its resources are important. We need to understand the affects of climate change on forests in order to deal with it. We need to look at the multiple benefits of forests if we want to look after it and not merely narrow it down to their importance to combat climate change. The definition of community needs to be re- looked in a larger perspective. Lastly, mitigation is needed to bring down GHGs and limit temperature increase. Forestry is an important option as deforestation is a major part of the problem that has led to an increase in GHG. Reforestation needs to be carried out in a manner that we cover all the benefits."

    Giving the way forward, Mr Arvind Khare, said "We have observed an increase in community rights and ownership by 5% from 2005-08. However, a lot is left to be done to reduce community conflicts and problems. It is difficult to talk about governance issues in international platforms but unless community rights are honoured, the sustainability of forests is a hurdle that we might face in the future."

    The pervasive poverty, and social tension in forest areas have generated violent conflict that has led to concentration of forest wealth in the hands of a few, and created a situation where new, additional investments carry the risk of catalysing new discord and conflict unless they target various aspects of equity. Strong property rights and forest governance are thus required to ensure that forest owners have the incentive to invest in maintaining their forests. Secure rights and good governance will help to target effective public compensation for reduced emissions and maintenance of carbon stocks. These conditions are prerequisites for efficient and equitable markets. Transparent monitoring of impacts is necessary to track whether climate change goals are being met, and to ensure that carbon projects do not inadvertently undermine rights and livelihoods.

    The workshop facilitated a dialogue among countries in the South on the following topics:

    • Community rights concerns in the context of climate change
    • What is the status in various countries in the South?
    • What lessons can be drawn?
    • UN-REDD, FCPF, FIP, others:
      • Are they addressing developing country concerns?
      • Are they effectively addressing basic drivers of deforestation?
      • Are readiness projects supporting local forest governance reforms?
      • What are the emerging lessons?
      • Rights and rules and emissions reductions.
      • Are the legal frameworks getting set up and standards being followed to ensure respect of local rights and ensure effective investment?
      • Where will money flow until the governance is credible?
    • Carbon financing and forest governance reforms.
    • What governance reforms can mitigate the possible negative trends in:
      • Forest rights reforms and decentralization process in forest landscapes?
      • What kind of monitoring will provide timely information to ensure that corrective measures are taken? Is there an independent monitoring of impacts?

    The workshop provided a platform for exchange of ideas in forestry and climate change among countries in the South. It helped advance South-South cooperation in forestry and climate change with particular emphasis on forest rights and governance.