Forest Peoples at risk from 'carbon grab'
A new 'carbon grab' is under way as governments and corporations seize valuable rights to the carbon stored in standing forests, with UN and World Bank support. But there's no benefit for forest communities - who even risk expulsion to make way for 'carbon plantations'.
As the United Nations and the World Bank prepare to develop world carbon markets as a tool to halt deforestation under so-called REDD+,new research warns of a new 'carbon grab' in the making.
And the grab could prove highly destructive to forest communities and indigenous peoples. First the process offers them no benefits. Worse, it may actually force their explusion, as natural forests are turned into intensively managed 'carbon plantations'.
Indeed this is already happening in Kenya, where the government is evicting Sengwer indigenous people from their ancestral forest lands and burning their homes, food stores and belongings to the ground - all to make way for a 'Natural Resource Management Project' run by the Kenya Forest Service and financed by the World Bank.
The problem is that neither the REDD+ regulations, nor national laws in forested countries, nor the World Bank's Framework Guidelines, offer adequate legal protections and safeguards for Indigenous Peoples and local communities.
No legal protection for forest Peoples
A survey of 23 low and middle income countries in Latin America, Asia, and Africa, covering 66% of the developing world's forests, found no laws governing how Indigenous Peoples and local communities could profit from the carbon in the forests in which they live and depend on for their livelihoods.
"As the carbon in living trees becomes another marketable commodity, the deck is loaded against forest peoples, and presents an opening for an unprecedented carbon grab by governments and investors" said Arvind Khare, Executive Director of the Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI), which conducted the research with the Ateneo School of Government in Manila, the Philippines.
"Every other natural resource investment on the international stage has disenfranchised indigenous Peoples and local communities, but we were hoping REDD would deliver a different outcome. Their rights to their forests may be few and far between, but their rights to the carbon in the forests are non-existent."
Read more from our affiliate, Ecologist.
Kenyan image via Shutterstock.