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Indigenous Leaders Embrace REDD,
With Or Without Carbon Markets
New program could save 4 million hectares of endangered rainforest, proponents claim
Author: Steve Zwick

Doha 2012

The UN’s 18th Climate Change Conference in Doha, which began November 27 has concluded. Ecosystem Marketplace covered the events extensively focusing on the outcome of the REDD text.

Brazil Says It Slowed Deforestation: Challenges Others To Follow Suit The Brazilian delegation discussed its record low deforestation rates and how these rates will impact negotiations at Doha.

Indigenous Leaders Embrace REDD, With Or Without Carbon Markets Indigenous leaders spoke in favor of a program aiming to save 400 hectares of endangered rainforest through an ecosystems-based valuation approach.

REDD+ Sidelined In Dispute Over Verification The REDD text was vetoed after passing the scientific negotiating track over the amount of verification recipient REDD countries will be subject to, opening up the possibility that an agreement on REDD may be postponed another year.

Gold Standard and Fairtrade Broaden Market Access For Small Producers
The carbon standard and ethical label are teaming up to bring carbon income to small producers practicing sustainable agriculture hoping to nurture both climate and people.

Congo Basin Forest Fund Steps Up For REDD+ Piloting The Democratic Republic of Congo introduced its National REDD+ Strategy in Doha. This article takes an in-depth look at the nation’s main source of funding-the Congo Basin Forest Fund.

Powerful Forest Friends Deliver Indonesian Approval Of Landmark REDD Project Indonesia's first REDD project that will protect 80,000 hectares of rainforest has been approved after being put on hold for one year.

REDD Limps Out Of Doha-Heavy, Homeless, And Broke REDD negotiators approved new provisions on how to recognize non-carbon benefits but were unable to agree on how to verify emissions reductions or on the creation of a REDD committee.

REDD Inches Forward In Doha Gateway, But Attention Shifts To National Solutions is the last piece of coverage from Doha explaining the setbacks and accomplishments of COP 18 as well as where REDD stands.

Panelists Explore Post-Doha Prospects For Bridging Global Climate Finance Gap offers an analysis on Doha's impact on climate finance from the perspective of industry leaders a month after the event.

In Doha, more than a dozen indigenous leaders spoke in favor of the “Indigenous REDD” program, which aims to save more than four million hectares of endangered rainforest using an ecosystems-based valuation approach that doesn’t necessarily harness the carbon market.






30 November 2012 | Doha | QATAR | More than a dozen indigenous leaders from across the Amazon endorsed efforts to save endangered rainforest using financial mechanisms that reward good land stewardship and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD).

They said, however, that carbon markets might not be the best way to access funding and argued for a more holistic, ecosystem-oriented approach based on acreage of living forest combined with REDD-style carbon stock-taking. They also argued against the long-term obligations that most carbon contratcs require, and in favor of shorter-term contracts offering indigenous groups that engage in REDD the flexibility to adapt their projects over time.

The “Indigenous REDD” effort emerged in 2011 and is being spearheaded by the Coordinator of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon Basin (COICA), which coordinates nine national indigenous organizations spread across the Amazon. It aims to incorporate REDD into the emerging “Life Plans” being developed by indigenous groups across the Amazon. Such plans, like the one that sparked the creation of the Surui REDD Project, map out decades-long paths to prosperity and independence for indigenous peoples.

“Indigenous peoples have proven themselves good stewards of the land, and are already taking care of more than 200 million hectares,” said Roberto Espinoza Llano, the project’s technical coordinator. “Still, more than four million hectares of indigenous rainforest is in danger, and REDD can help save it.”
 
He argued, however, that biomass-based valuations like those employed in REDD tend to undervalue ecosystems, and he expressed skepticism in the ability of safeguards to protect cultural values and biodiversity. Indigenous REDD, he said, aims to develop alternate financing mechanisms that recognize biodiversity and ecosystem health as a core value rather than a co-benefit.

“Long before REDD was invented, indigenous people were managing and conserving the forest,” he says.  “They did so by taking a holistic approach to forest management – and that’s what we want to bring to REDD.”

The Swiss government is a major funder of the Indigenous REDD initiative, and Keith Anderson, Forest & Climate Policy Officer for the Swiss Federal Office for the Environment, said that Indigenous REDD might appeal to development-minded donors.

“The proposals they outlined might not fit into a general understudying of REDD,” he said. “They are, however, synergistic with government plans for sustainable development.”

Espinoza said potential funding streams and mechanisms would be explored in more detail on Amazon Day, which takes place in Hall 5, room 2 of the Doha National Convention Center on Saturday, December 1.

Information And Empowerment

COICA members together oversee 212 million hectares of forest, and they have clear title to 170 million hectares of that, says COICA economic coordinator Juan-Carlos Jintiach.

He adds, however, that only three countries – Ecuador, Columbia, and Brazil – recognize such tenure at the constitutional level, and said that REDD projects of any kind should only proceed if those rights are clear. He said that COICA aimed to use REDD as a way of making those rights clear.

Others talked of the need for more information and more involvement on the part of indigenous leaders in REDD.

“Every one of the indigenous leaders who took part said the workshops were too short,” said Gregario Cascante of Venezuela’s Organización de los Pueblos Indígenas del Amazonas (Organization of Indigenous Peoples of the Amazon, “ORPIA”).

Sonia Guajajara of Coordenação das Organizações Indígenas da Amazônia Brasileira (Coordination of the Indigenous Organizations of the Brazilian Amazon, “COIAB”) said that the emerging practice of free, prior, and informed consent (FPIC) brought indigenous people into the REDD process too late, and argued for more early-stage involvement.

“Given our history in the forest, our role should go beyond accepting or rejecting REDD,” she said. “We should be actively formulating the national forest strategy.”

Three Years In the Making

The “Indigenous REDD” initiative emerged from a series of five-day workshops held over a three-year period, beginning in early 2010 in Ecuador. The aim was to hold three per year, for three years – one in each of the COICA nations, says Jintiach. The last workshop is slated for next year in French Guyana.

Each workshop lasted five days – three days in classrooms and two in the field with small group of just 20 to 25.

“As we moved from the controversial to the positive, we realized that we were movng towards REDD, but towards a uniquely indigenous approach,” said Espinoza.

The workshops focused on bosed market-based and non-market based financing opetions.

“We started out with the basics on climate change and what was going on locally in the country … and then got more into the details of what specifically a REDD project looks like on the ground,” he says. “We offered some briefings about the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility, the Forest Investment Programme, and UN-REDD, and the private sector was invited as well.”

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Steve Zwick is Managing Editor of Ecosystem Marketplace. He can be reached at szwick@ecosystemmarketplace.com.
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