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Understanding Community-Based REDD+ A Manual for Indigenous Community Trainers

In December 2010, after years of negotiations, an agreement on REDD was finally reached at the 16th Conference of Parties (COP 16) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Cancun, Mexico. The agreement includes references to indigenous peoples and their rights, and in paragraph 72 of the agreement, country Parties are requested to ensure “the full and effective participation of relevant stakeholders, inter alia, indigenous peoples and local communities” when developing and implementing their national strategies or action plans on REDD.

But what does “full and effective participation” mean? This question is the main motivation for writing this manual.

To ensure not just “participation”, but community control and empowerment, REDD+ projects should be planned, designed and implemented in such a way that they fully comply with the safeguards referred to in the UNFCCC agreement on REDD, as well as the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. We have chosen to call projects with such an approach “Community-based REDD+”.

While the first community guide in our manual series, “What is REDD?”, aims to help indigenous communities to understand what REDD+ is and what its implications may be for them more generally, this manual looks at REDD+ at the project level. The purpose of this manual is to provide guidance to indigenous trainers to prepare and conduct trainings on Community-based REDD+. These trainings should help communities acquire the knowledge and skills needed to take a decision on whether to join a REDD+ project, and if they do, to be able to fully and effectively participate in it.

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Understanding Community Based-REDD+ A Manual for Indigenous Communities

Introduction

In December 2010, after years of negotiations, an agreement on REDD was finally reached at the 16th Conference of Parties (COP 16) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Cancun, Mexico. Indigenous representatives worked hard to get the rights and concerns of indigenous peoples included in the agreement and they were successful. The references to indigenous peoples and their rights in this agreement are not as strong as they would have liked them to be, but at least they were included. And the agreement also refers of the UNDRIP, even though only in the Annex.

If you have already gone through and studied the first community guide “What is REDD?”, you will be familiar with the REDD agreement, and you will remember that the crucial paragraph is number 72, in which country Parties (that means governments) are requested to ensure “the full and effective participation of relevant stakeholders, inter alia, indigenous peoples and local communities” when developing and implementing their national strategies or action plans on REDD.

Paragraph 2 of Annex 1 of the agreement gives the details of the safeguards that governments are asked to promote and support when implementing REDD+. And one of these safeguards again talks of “the full and effective participation of relevant stakeholders, in particular indigenous peoples and local communities”.

But what does “full and effective participation” mean? This question is the main motivation for writing this manual.

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Briefing Paper on ASEAN, Climate Change, REDD+ and Indigenous Peoples

CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

Many Indigenous Peoples fear that the implementation of REDD+ may have the same impacts to them as the imposition of conservation areas such as national parks. They are apprehensive about implementing REDD+ because such imposition has led to conflicts, physical and economic displacements, food insecurity and loss of income, and loss of biodiversity and traditional knowledge due to prohibitions of their traditional livelihoods, resettlement or eviction.

On the other hand, independent studies have shown that biodiversity and forest conservation in genuine partnerships and under co-management arrangements with Indigenous Peoples have been more successful and are mutually beneficial. These partnerships are based on the respect of Indigenous Peoples’ rights, needs and concerns. Another key lesson learned over the past decades of experiences with biodiversity and forest conservation is that community forest management and conservation are more sustainable and benefits are more equitable if community land rights are recognized and protected.

These are important findings which must be taken into account in the development of National REDD+ Strategies. REDD+ offers opportunities for scaling up community forestry through policy, legal, and institutional reforms that strengthen the protection of land and forest rights of indigenous and other forest communities. It also enables capacity building of the respective support structure within the responsible government agencies.

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Indigenous Knowledge and Customary Law in Natural Resource Management

Lands and territories inhabited by most indigenous peoples across the globe are rich in natural resources. Through generations of experimentation and as custodians, the indigenous peoples have developed an expansive body of knowledge for sustainable use and management of these resources. The continuity of this knowledge and sustainable use and management practices of these resources are enforced through rules, beliefs and taboos which form a part of their customary laws.

Indigenous peoples possess systematic knowledge of plants, animals and natural phenomena of the ecosystems and their surroundings. This rich knowledge coupled with their close relationship with their lands have enabled them to live in harmony with nature. However, with the colonization of their lands and territories over the centuries, the process of plundering the resources and dispossessions began. Additionally, statutory laws were imposed on them which marginalized their customary laws that regulate the application of their knowledge on the management of the natural resources within their territories. The situation has continued to aggravate over the last few decades with the coming of the era of economic development, which is aggressively pursued by private companies. In addition, indigenous peoples are being pushed out or evicted from their homelands in the name of conservation of natural resources. Both these trends are occurring with the backing of the state. Nonetheless, indigenous peoples continue to assert and practice their distinctive way of life and worldviews on a narrow margin.

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Global Warming Scapegoat: A New Punishment Measure Imposed on Indigenous Peoples for Practicing their Sustainable Traditional Livelihood Activities

In a dramatic incident, the Government of Thailand arrested and penalized villagers in Northern Thailand with up to THB 3,181,500 (USD 96,409) and imprisonment for "causing deforestation and rise in temperature". The villagers were clearing the fallow-fields in their traditional shifting cultivation area for their livelihood.

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