CORRECTION: A previous version of this post mentioned the indigenous peoples’ march was not in rejection of carbon markets, however the press release issued by the group does have language rejecting carbon markets. This post reflects the correct information, and we apologize for the error.
One of the more anticipated events at the U.N. climate conferences is the annual civil society protest-march held during the negotiations. This year’s in Cancún has already received a lot of attention because of the anticipated larger-than-normal participation by indigenous peoples and rural groups.
There have been rumors for weeks now that this year’s march would be to protest policies for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+).
However, it was encouraging to see the press release from the official indigenous peoples caucus, which says, instead, the indigenous peoples are marching to request that a future global climate deal:
- Respect the Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples contained in the U.N. Declaration on Human Rights for Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP): UNDRIP is actually contained in the annex on safeguards for REDD+ implementation, so they already have this in place in a final agreement.
- Respect Their Right to Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC): Indigenous peoples want the right to say “no” to any REDD+ projects on their land. FPIC is contained in UNDRIP, so it is technically already in a potential final agreement on REDD+. However, indigenous peoples would like to see it explicitly included.
- Recognition and respect of indigenous peoples traditional knowledge and use of it as a solution for climate change: Indigenous peoples have been conserving the forest since the beginning, and they want some of their knowledge used and recognized. In a sense, they are saying “Work with us when you are designing REDD+ programs because we can make them better.” The potential REDD+ final agreement does already require "full and effective participation of relevant stakeholders, in particular, indigenous peoples and local communities" in REDD+ programs.
The Coordinating Organization for the Indigenous Peoples of the Amazon Basin (COICA), an indigenous peoples group who EDF works with, recently spoke about their organization’s REDD policy. COICA is not for or against REDD+, but requests certain rights be recognized, such as right to land, resources and self-determination. Once these rights are ensured, COICA believes, indigenous peoples can make a decision for themselves whether to participate in REDD+ projects or not. EDF also believes these rights to land, resources and self-determination are the foundation for any REDD+ project or program to be successful.
Back at today’s march, sure there were groups participating with an anti-REDD+ message – but they are not the majority. To place all indigenous peoples in the category of anti-REDD+ groups is a mistake, especially given the official statement from their caucus saying nothing of the sort.
There are a number of indigenous groups within – and outside – the U.N. climate negotiations, and we’re encouraged to see the focus of the official indigenous peoples’ march is not against REDD+, but instead for recognition of their own rights.