International Climate Negotiations Criticized by Indigenous Peoples
When the Kyoto Protocol was first introduced back in 1997 it was deemed that forests were not carbon sinks. Whether this was an oversight or a severe lack of scientific knowledge I’m unsure. However with negotiations moving on for a successor to the Protocol, forests are back in for consideration as useful carbon sinks.
As such, indigenous groups from the Americas, Africa and Asia are worried that, if industrialized nations are allowed to purchase carbon rights from their forests, they will lose out, seeing ownership change hands without them even being consulted.
This is not an unlikely event, considering the total lack of room there is for indigenous peoples to have their say at these talks. “When you don’t have recognized status, you’re not existent. You’re not at the table,” said Kanyinke Sena, the Indigenous People of Africa Coordinating Committee’s Eastern Africa representative.
Part of the Bali Roadmap included the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) (PDF). Part of this agreement included first and foremost the acknowledgement that deforestation added to the emissions causing “global anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions,” and that said problem “needs to be addressed when reducing emissions from deforestation.”
Thankfully, another aspect of the agreement included “recognizing also that the needs of local and indigenous communities should be addressed when action is taken to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries.”
At first many indigenous groups opposed REDD due to their fears that control of the forests that, by all rights, belong to them (as much as any land belongs to anyone, I guess). However climate negotiators were quick to point to the financial reimbursement and awareness that REDD provided indigenous peoples.
Subsequently, indigenous people have been invited to send representatives to the Forest Dialogues, a gathering of various professions forming a joint policy recommendation on REDD. “This is the first time indigenous and non-indigenous groups are meeting at this type of forum,” said Parshuram Tamang, the International Alliance of Indigenous and Tribal Peoples of Tropical Forests’ climate negotiations representative and a member of the Tamang ethnic group of Nepal. “This is very important for indigenous people.”
Hopefully, inclusions such as in the Forest Dialogues will provide indigenous groups across the planet with a platform to be heard elsewhere. Because nothing is as expected as the possibility of ignoring those people local to a region that might have some monitory value to some wealthier person or country.