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LATIN AMERICA
Seeing REDD
12/10/2010
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Indigenous groups and environmentalists argue forests are not for sale.

If the delegates from more than 190 countries meeting in Cancun, Mexico, for the United Nations climate change talks seemed close to any agreement during the two week-summit in the resort town, it was a pact on an emissions reducing program that indigenous and environmental activists argue will privatize the world´s forests.

Countries of the Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, or COP16, were poised to reach an agreement on the United Nations Collaborative Program on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries, known as REDD, which is also backed by the World Bank. A binding agreement on emissions reductions was left at the wayside.

The scheme is set up so rich nations can pay developing countries to leave their forests intact, but critics say it boils down to the privatizations of these areas, which are the lifeblood of indigenous communities around the world.

“Although REDD may benefit some communities and biodiversity in certain specific areas, overall it is emerging as a mechanism that has the potential to exacerbate inequality, reaping huge rewards for corporate and other large investors whilst bringing considerably fewer benefits —or even serious disadvantages— to indigenous peoples and other forest-dependent communities,” said the organization Friends of the Earth in a report released during the UN summit.

The group said large oil, gas, mining, agriculture and other corporations stand to benefit from the scheme, because it could mean their activities could simply “shift elsewhere.”

Indigenous and environmental activists protested outside the summit, held in a luxurious hotel in the heart of Cancun, shouting “No to REDD!”

Bolivian President Evo Morales joined the critics saying that the proposals did not take climate change adapatation or water preservation measures into account.

"We haven´t come here to sell carbon bonds," Morales said in a Dec. 9 press conference.

"We haven´t come here to save capitalism from its agony by capitalizing on forests. That would be fatal “campesino and indigenous peoples feed the world and cool the planet”, said Marcial Arias, an indigenous Kuna from Panama. “In order to continue doing so, our rights to land, food sovereignty, and access to water as a common good must be upheld. REDD will violate these rights.”

Alberto Gómez, a representative of the international organization Vía Campesina, said: “The government representatives in the COP16 need to stop talking business and start talking about climate. The REDD and carbon markets are only business opportunities for the expansion of the domination of transnational companies.”
—Latinamerica Press.


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