Indigenous Leaders Stand Up For Active Role In REDD

Ciro Calderon

Indigenous people have long been among the world’s most responsible land stewards, and they are well-positioned to gain from programs that harness carbon payments to save endangered rainforest. Leaders in Warsaw argue, however, that such programs will only work if they incorporate indigenous values and realities.

The REDD Rulebook

The “Rulebook” is actually a collection of seven decisions that together provide guidance on how countries can harvest available data to create reliable snapshots of their forests over time and to use these snapshots to create deforestation reference levels that will be recognized by the UNFCCC.

The decisions govern, among other things, modalities for monitoring national forests, addressing the drivers of deforestation and forest degradation, and measuring, reporting and verifying activities designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

It’s still, however, not clear what sort of payoffs that data will yield long-term, and for that there’s a work program for developing results-based finance in support of REDD and a new set of arrangements between the COP and the Green Climate Fund. The decisions also include a mechanism for helping developing countries deal with loss and damage from climate change.

The final decision reached is the one covering institutional arrangements for REDD finance moving forward.

COP 19 Coverage

We covered the COP from beginning to end, with a narrow focus on REDD and those issues still under discussion. Here is the bulk of our coverage, with a few breaking stories omitted.

Demand For Forest Carbon Offsets Rises As Forestland Under Carbon Management Grows sets the stage for Warsaw with a deep dive into the state of forest carbon markets around the world.

REDD, CDM Likely To Find A Place In New Climate Agreement: UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres offers hope that the troubled CDM market and REDD projects will be included in the international climate deal expected to be finalized in 2015.

Understanding Carbon Accounting Under The UN Framework Convention is a work in progress designed to explain in simple terms the complexity of carbon accounting under the emerging “REDD Rulebook”.

Indigenous Leaders Stand Up For Active Role In REDD relates what indigenous leaders expect from forest-carbon finance

REDD Reference Levels Share Stage With Broader Land-Use Issues In Warsaw outlines the issues on the table at the beginning of the talks.

In Warsaw As In California, Forest Carbon Carrot Needs Compliance Stick  explores the need for compliance drivers to boost demand for forest carbon offsets.

Forest, Ag Projects Can Combine Adaptation And Mitigation: CIFOR Study  highlights the missed opportunities to link multiple benefits in projects that aim to tackle the impacts of climate change.

Dutch Platform Turns Landscapes Talk Into REDD Reality examines a new platform unveiled in Warsaw that could serve as a model for future public-private partnerships for financing REDD+ projects.

The REDD Finance Roundtable: A Quick Chat With EDF, WWF, and UCS takes stock of the talks on the eve of the final REDD agreement.

For REDD Proponents, No Regrets  examines the early success of REDD pilot projects despite sluggish progress made in securing policy and financial support at the national and international levels.

US, UK, Norway Launch Next-Stage REDD Finance Mechanism Under World Bank examines a financing mechanism designed to support performance-based payments down the road.

After the talks, we began digging into the decisions and themes of the two-week talk, and will be rolling these stories out as they take shape.

Unpacking Warsaw, Part One: The Institutional Arrangements explores the last-minute deal that lays rules for governing REDD finance through 2015.

Unpacking Warsaw, Part Two: Recognizing The Landscape Reality explores the thinking behind the growing emphasis on “landscape thinking” in climate finance.

Unpacking Warsaw, Part Three: COP Veterans Ask, ‘Where’s The Beef?’ explores the reaction of carbon traders to the Warsaw outcomes and offers a peek into the year ahead.

Further stories in this series will explore the impact of individual decisions within the rulebook, the role that the rulebook can play in helping existing projects nest in jurisdictional programs, and the impact of the rulebook on the private sector.

14 November 2013 | WARSAW | Indigenous issues are a central focus of climate talks here this week and next, especially when it comes to programs that use carbon finance to save endangered rainforest (Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation, or “REDD”).

“It is important to understand how indigenous people are responding to climate change,” said Juan-Carlos Jintiach on Tuesday. “We have made much progress with holistic management pilot projects.”

Jintiach is the economic coordinator for COICA (Coordinadora de las Organizaciones Indí­genas de la Cuenca Amazí³nica, or “Coordinator of Indigenous Organizations in the Amazon Basin”), which is an alliance of associations and peoples within the Amazon that aims to empower indigenous populations and defend them in human and property rights issues. COICA along with the Indigenous Association of the Peruvian Rainforest (Asociacií³n de Indí­genas de la Selva Peruana or “AIDESEP”) discussed the forest conservation work the indigenous groups are doing at a press conference at the 19th Conference of the Parties (COP 19) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) on Tuesday.

Jintiach said that REDD will only work if it recognizes that different tribes have different views and priorities regarding what can and can’t be done on their land. That, in turn, makes it necessary that they are heard in any negotiating process regarding the land they live on. This type of conservation isn’t just focused on carbon, Jintiach said, but other elements relevant to a forests’ prosperity. These include genetic richness, biodiversity, pollination, etc.

Meanwhile, Roberto Espinoza of AIDESEP said that while all REDD projects have the same principles, they can’t be implemented the same way when applying REDD to private initiatives, protected areas or indigenous lands. “There have to be adjustments,” he said.

Espinoza also stressed that companies invested in indigenous REDD projects in the Amazon should, among other things, make internal changes in their policies and practices that reduce emissions. He went on to note that indigenous REDD has been accepted in Peru and made advances in Colombia and Brazil.

The mechanism has been revised to include long-term life planning, territorial status, comprehensive holistic forest management (not just management of the carbon), increased monitoring and an increase in reducing industrial emissions.

Proposals for the revisions came from a host of governments, organizations and agencies including UN REDD, UNCTAD (United Nations Conference on Trade and Development) and the cooperation organization promoting a united Latin America, ALBA (Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of our America).

During the meeting, indigenous leaders called on COP 19 participants to not only reflect on climate change, but also to initiate the same type of action indigenous communities are implementing in 5 million hectares of Latin American forestland. They also asked participating countries to put a premium on indigenous rights during negotiations.

Representatives during the press conference mentioned a summit of Amazon indigenous leaders that will be held later this month in Colombia.

Leaders emphasized how indigenous peoples expect to be key players during climate talks and how the following COP will be in Lima, Peru. There, they will continue to seek a “solution that works for the good of people and the planet.”


Ciro Calderon is Program Assistant at Valorando Naturaleza, based in Baja California Sur, Mexico. He can be reached at [email protected].
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This article has been adapted from Indígenas amazónicos discuten en Varsovia avances y desafíos que ven en REDD+ en la cuenca amazónica which appeared in Spanish on Valorando Naturaleza, a sister site to Ecosystem Marketplace focused on Latin America. It was adapted into English by Kelli Barrett and Steve Zwick.