REDD update from Bonn

Guest post from Chris Meyer, writing from Bonn

I was in Bonn last week for the first of two weeks of post-Copenhagen climate change negotiations. As I wrote in a blog post for the Environmental Defense Fund, indigenous rights language in the negotiating text - specifically the REDD+ section - is significant.

I wrote in that post:

Most promising in this is that the two-year-old brackets around the text – text is [bracketed] when it is controversial and does not have unanimous support from countries – have been removed.  This is a big victory for indigenous leaders, as it indicates strong support for indigenous peoples' rights.

For example, this excerpt was bracketed:

(c) Respect for the knowledge and rights of indigenous peoples and members of local communities, by taking into account relevant international obligations, national circumstances and laws, and noting that the General Assembly has adopted the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples;

(d) Full and effective participation of relevant stakeholders, including, in particular, indigenous peoples and local communities in actions referred to in paragraphs 3 and 5 below;

Is the text perfect? No. There are still sections where indigenous leaders want better language about rights and safeguards. The major issue in Bonn was whether the brackets around the remaining social safeguards text would be removed, i.e. be accepted by country negotiators. The latest draft released did not remove the brackets, so this issue will be debated in future negotiations.

As I noted before, the international language is only good as its implementation on the ground, which is often poor. In Panama for example, the community of Arimae (where Planting Empowerment located some of its plantations) still doesn't have secure title to all of its lands. Nor is there consensus on who owns the carbon in the forest, which has been conserved at great expense by the indigenous peoples.

At a global level the negotiating text for REDD is looking much better for indigenous peoples. However, there is still work to be done to strengthen the implementation language in the text, and actually see that translate to positive action on the ground. Things are moving in a good direction in Panama, but the country needs to move quicker to protect its remaining forest and increase benefits to the local peoples.