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Features & Commentary

A REDD+ Partnership Based on the Rights of Forest Communities: Myth or Reality for the Future?

In the lead up to the Oslo Climate and Forest Conference which will seek to establish an interim partnership arrangement for REDD+, Civil Society representative to the UN-REDD Programme Policy Board, Pacifique Mukumba Isumbisho, calls on the Oslo process to stay squarely focused on the rights of forest communities.

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One of the obstacles in the REDD+ process is when governments fail to recognize the land rights of forest communities. Yet the traditional knowledge and practices of these communities, including Indigenous Peoples, have contributed to the sustainable management and conservation of natural forest areas for thousands of years. These communities have the right to occupy their ancestral lands and freely access the resources there. For example, by claiming that the land and subsoil belongs to the state (Bakajika Act), the Congolese government prevented communities from doing so and left only certain sections of land to be managed by Indigenous communities.

Credit : CAMV
Pygmies in Byakato village in the district of Ituri, Democratic Republic of Congo

The interim REDD+ partnership to be designed in Oslo should be based, among others things, on the right to the land of forestry communities including Indigenous Peoples. The access of these communities to the land and/or the forests should not be a privilege but a right, considering the roles they have played and continue to play in the sustainable conservation of forests.

The REDD+ partnership must also give communities access to payments for environmental services and derived from both a sustainable forest management over many years, and the decentralized management of community forests granted by governments. Such access would solve the problem of poverty, which forest management policies have failed to mitigate or prevent for many years. The Democratic Republic of Congo provides a striking example. There, profit sharing payments for environmental services must be followed by capacity building of communities involved in the sustainable and decentralized management of forests.

Humans are at the center of socio-economic, cultural and environmental development. The REDD+ process should base its partnership on the protection of biodiversity, including by adopting measures on the transformation of natural forests and improved social and environmental benefits, including ecosystems and environmental services.

Credit : CAMV
Pygmies in Byakato village in the district of Ituri, Democratic Republic of Congo

Development of monoculture plantations such as oil palm, should not affect the natural forests. The rehabilitation of abandoned plantations should be taken into account as an alternative to logging in natural forests, and the conversion of forests into tree plantations should not be encouraged in this REDD+ partnership.

The countries that adhere, or must adhere, to the REDD+ partnership have signed international conventions, including the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Framework Convention on Climate Change. They have also signed the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The REDD+ partnership should develop and implement sound environmental and social safeguards that meet international standards and respect the agreements signed. Transparent mechanisms and adequate resources should be put in place to ensure the effective implementation of these safeguards in the context of REDD+. A system of measuring, reporting and verification (MRV) involving stakeholders including Indigenous Peoples, should also be approved.

The REDD+ partnership should also consider creating an appeal mechanism for stakeholders in the process agreed to in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and its implementation with the support of guarantees.
Communities, as stakeholders in the process, should have the same right to appeal as any other party.

The REDD+ partnership should develop a clear timetable for adopting a set of relevant procedures and standards through a participatory process.

While aware of the issues of transparency, good governance, consultation, the principle of free, prior and informed consent regarding all issues at stake, the sheer size and diversity of countries, the REDD+ partnership should focus on implementing a strategy for national REDD+ efforts, where all stakeholders are involved and participate in the preparation of national REDD+ programme documents (R-PPs).

The REDD+ mechanism is one possible solution to the observed climate disruption and to poverty reduction in communities involved as stakeholders in the process. Nevertheless, the mechanism will be more effective if these communities have access to the land (forests) granted to them by governments, and if the latter comply with the international conventions they ratified and with other international declarations to which they adhered.

Pacifique Mukumba Isumbisho

Pacifique Mukumba Isumbisho is the Executive Director of the Support Center for Vulnerable Indigenous Pygmy and Minority Indigenous Peoples (CAMV) in Democratic Republic of Congo and is also the Civil Society Representative from Africa on the UN-REDD Programme Policy Board.   

In this issue


Joint Response to Oslo Conference REDD+ Partnership Proposal

Brazzaville Declaration Reaffirms Central Africa’s Commitment to REDD+

Forest Biodiversity, Ecosystem Services and REDD+

UN-REDD & Brazil’s INPE: Building Forest Monitoring Capacities

MRV in Tanzania

Features & Commentary

A REDD+ Partnership Based on the Rights of Forest Communities: Myth or Reality for the Future? By: Pacifique Mukumba Isumbisho

REDD+ in Ecuador: Ensuring Social and Environmental Co-Benefits By: Daniela Carrión

Safeguarding Multiple-Benefits By: Wahida Patwa-Shah & Linda Rosengren
Reports & Analysis

Ecosystem Co-Benefits Workshop in Cambridge

CIFOR Releases “Realising REDD+”

UN-REDD/FAO to Publish National Forest MRV System Recommendations
Looking ahead

32nd Session of the UNFCCC Convention UN-REDD Side Event
3 June 2010: Bonn, Germany

World Environment Day
5 June 2010: (UN-REDD represented in Rwanda & Geneva)

23rd Session of the Asia-Pacific Forestry Commission
9-11 June 2010, Bhutan

Forestry Carbon Markets & REDD Conference
10-11 June 2010, Washington, D.C.

18th Commonwealth Forestry Conference
28 June - 2 July 2010, Edinburgh, Scotland
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