Those hoping to see rights of indigenous peoples and local communities included in the Draft Conclusions of the 29th Session of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice will disappointed to see that these rights were, according to the NGO newsletter ECO, “edited out due to political inconveniences.”. Government negotiators (particularly for Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the U.S.) opposed language in Agenda Item 5 that linked REDD to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP.)
Several motivations have been offered for the resistance. Delegation leaders for Canada and U.S. have said that they support the participation and consultation of indigenous people on REDD, but struck the explicit reference to indigenous peoples’ rights. In a press conference at Poznan, Canadian Environment Minister Jim Prentice stated that UNDRIP “has nothing whatsoever to do with climate change.”
Guatemalan Environment Minister Luis Ferrate offered an explanation for some countries’ (though not Guatemala) unwillingness to affirm indigenous rights because they felt there were “separatist implications of creating nations within a nation, which is a territorial question.” Ugandan SBSTA negotiator Xavier Nyindo Mugumya, speaking to the Ecosystem Marketplace, finds the contention results partly from the countries’ different historical and cultural contexts. The history of colonization in Latin America, for example, has made indigenous peoples’ campaigns very salient, whereas “the implication of including the rights of indigenous peoples in a draft would impinge on the constituents of an American negotiator…because if you are American, you don’t have a definition of ‘a people'; instead, you are by law free as individuals.”
The question of rights and REDD has not been completely tabled, however – paragraph 11 of the Decision invites Parties to “submit views on issues relating to indigenous people and local communities” by Feb. 15, and paragraph 6 calls for an Expert Meeting on REDD before the next convening of the SBSTA, the scientific and technical advisory body. In a recent press statement, indigenous peoples’ advocate Victoria Tauli-Corpuz voiced her hope that this meeting “should be used to go more deeply into the methodological issues relevant for indigenous peoples,” while linking with “the policy issues” of the Ad-Hoc Working Group on Long-Term Cooperative Action, which is responsible for UNFCCC policy formulation.
With this news, many environmental campaigners are increasingly worried that human-rights aspects of mitigation efforts are falling behind private sector activity. World Rainforest Movement told The Guardian that if market mechanisms like REDD move forward without safeguards for local ownership, “indigenous people will almost certainly see their rights diminish and control over their lands disappear.” And REDD-Monitor points out that, although Poznan did little to ensure the rights of indigenous and local peoples over the forests they live in, the insurance industry (with support from UNEP) is already gearing up to profit from insuring forest carbon.
As the ECO editors put it soberly, “Anyone who imagines REDD will provide credible, permanent emission reductions without the involvement of these people in a fully inclusive process has been drinking too much Zubrowka.”