Tag Archives: carbon

Mexico can’t see the wood for the trees

Note: This article arose out of the heated debates on REDD (the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation scheme) at the UN Climate Conference in Cancun, Mexico in 2010.  GJEP actively campaigned against REDD there and supported the important work of our Indigenous allies who were there to oppose REDD.  As a result, GJEP is quoted opposing REDD in the article below.

Another outcome of our work against REDD in Cancun is a new video documenting opposition to REDD by Indigenous peoples, forest dependent communities and Northern communities all of whom are negatively impacted by REDD.  This video, “A Darker Shade of Green: REDD Alert and the Future of Forests,” which we co-produced with Global Forest Coalition, will be officially released on the 16th of January.”

–The GJEP Team

Cross-Posted from Le Monde Diplomatique (English Edition)

January 2012 Edition

An indigenous community in Mexico wants to drop protected conservation status for its area because it feels it has lost real control of its land and way of life. Concern about carbon emissions is blinding policy makers to the failures of some of their conservation policies

by Anne Vigna
-

“That’s the one,” said Arcenio Osorio, pointing at the huge mountain that towers over the village of Santiago Lachiguiri, in Oaxaca state, part of southwestern Mexico’s Isthmus of Tehuantepec. “It provides water to all the towns in the area, and to us, the Zapotec people, it’s sacred. That’s the mountain we wanted official protection for.” Osorio is secretary of the community assembly, a traditional elected body that represents the people of the village. The 8,000 inhabitants of the county have always been involved in the conservation of their mountain, the Cerro de las Flores (“Mountain of the Flowers”). An official from the National Commission for Protected Natural Areas (Conanp) told me it is classed as an area of “exceptionally high biodiversity” due to the “excellent state of preservation of its ecosystem”.

In the valleys at the foot of the mountain, they grow organic coffee. The slopes are covered with little woods and patches of maize, but after several hours of walking and clambering you come to forests of pine trees, under which grow hundreds of species of wild flowers. Because of its altitude (2,200 metres) and the rock it is made of, the mountain acts as a kind of sponge, which stores the greater part of the area’s water supply.

Cerro de las Flores is a textbook case of conservation policy. In August 2003 it became Mexico’s first “voluntary community preserved area”. My source said Conanp defines this as an area protected by a “conservation mechanism put in place at the request of the local community, that protects the area’s natural riches and offers sustainable economic alternatives to its inhabitants”. According to Conanp, 207,887 hectares of land are managed in this way in Mexico. But at the meeting of the community assembly in January 2011, the people of Santiago Lachiguiri voted to drop the area’s “preserved area” status. “The government deceived us,” explained Osorio. “We are still the legitimate owners of the land, but we have lost control of it.”

Osorio was clearly irritated, and with some justification. The village’s land commissioner, Enan Eduardo, explained his choice of words: “We discovered that the certification of the 1,400 hectares of Cerro de las Flores entailed a conservation period of 30 years, rather than the five years we had agreed on when we voted.” Did that imply deception, and loss of control? “The conservation policy means we also have to change our production methods, even if it makes no sense in ecological terms.”

Certifying land involves the establishment of a development plan, preceded by a diagnostic survey; non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and government institutions (Mexico’s ecology ministry and Conanp) handle both tasks. The process is supposed to begin with “participatory workshops”, to inform the local inhabitants and allow them to make their opinions heard and take part in decision-making. But in Santiago Lachiguiri this procedure, seen as essential for the success of any conservation initiative, wasn’t followed correctly. Conanp insists the local inhabitants participated and were properly informed. Osorio said: “We went everywhere with them, and answered all their questions. But we had no idea what they were planning.”

Slash and burn

As a result, the conservation area ended up including the flanks of the mountain, where 140 smallholders had been growing maize. A further 517 hectares were included in the “payment for environmental services” programme, under which agricultural activities are forbidden, but the community receives an annual payment of 400 pesos (US$30) per hectare, that is $15,510 a year. It’s not much — and less than they were making from farming the land. The conservation plan also described a range of activities that would supposedly enhance the area’s resources without damaging the environment. The two flagship projects were an ecotourism initiative and a water-bottling plant. Both were abandoned after four years. Two cabins intended to accommodate tourists were never used — this remote area attracts few visitors — and the cost of transporting the bottled water proved prohibitive.

But it was farming that stirred up the most trouble. The local community practised slash-and-burn cultivation (land is cleared, burned and then planted every seven years). The ash serves as a natural fertiliser and the wood is used as cooking fuel. Typical crops are maize, beans, tomatoes and peppers.

Anthropologist Eckart Boege says that, when properly managed, according to strict rules, itinerant cultivation is the best way of farming without destroying the environment; the Mayas were masters of this technique, in both production and reforestation. But Mexican and international institutions have identified this farming method as the latest big threat and they all want a ban on burning, since carbon capture has become the central element of conservation policies. Slash-and-burn has in fact caused environmental damage in Mexico, leading to deforestation, soil impoverishment, water shortages and reduced biodiversity.

But this is not the case with land occupied by indigenous peoples such as the inhabitants of Santiago Lachiguiri, who have established strict community rules (1). “If it’s properly used, the technique can actually increase the biological diversity and mass of the forest. We release CO2 by burning, but we capture more during the regeneration phase,” explained Alvaro Salgado, agronomist and author of a study on slash-and-burn. These facts have been recognised in scientific publications but are denied by Conanp, which is busy imposing another project on the village — agro-forestry, a system that integrates trees into a system of permanent cultivation, in this case apricot trees and maize. The results have failed to convince the locals. In three years, the soil has become impoverished and the trees are scrawny. “Since the maize yields were poor, Conanp advised us very early on to use chemicals to enrich the soil,” said Eduardo. Another result was that most of the 140 smallholders who had lost their land left the village. Some emigrated to the US, some moved to the city, some went to work on a motorway construction site, and the youngest joined the army after a recruitment campaign.

The villagers demanded the removal of the mountain’s protected area status and an end to the payments for environmental services. They also sent two representatives to the Alternative Global Forum that was held at Cancún in December 2010 in parallel with the 16th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 16). Their aim was to denounce the conservation policies that were being imposed. Their testimony was of the highest importance: it was COP 16 that approved the agreement on forest conservation proposed at COP 13, in Bali in 2007 — the REDD (Reducing Emissions From Deforestation and Degradation) programme.

Unable to agree on reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, the signatories hoped that REDD would kill two birds with one stone, cutting emissions by 15% while preventing deforestation. Diego Rodriguez from the World Bank had no doubts REDD would enable the world to prepare for climate change.

’We want to be able to say no’

Yet REDD shows little concern for the 300 million people across the world who depend on forests for their living. The programme is based on “compensation”: any business enterprise or country that pollutes can compensate for its greenhouse gas emissions (quantified in terms of tons of carbon) by “protecting” a forest. Advocates of REDD claim this approach is scientific but it does not appear to have convinced everyone. Research by Stanford University in California shows that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change overestimated the amount of carbon stocked in a forest in Peru by one-third (2).

Anne Petermann of the NGO Global Justice Ecology Project says the idea that carbon can be stocked implies a ban on the felling of trees. Indigenous groups are opposed to REDD, she says, because they believe it will inevitably displace communities or have a serious impact on their way of life, without doing anything to reduce pollution or climate change. Representatives of indigenous peoples, who came to Cancún in large numbers, hoped to impose a requirement that free, prior and informed consent be obtained before the implementation of any REDD project. “We want to be able to say no if a company wants to use our territory to compensate for carbon emissions,” said Onel Masardule, representative of the Kuna people of Panama.

But REDD’s final text merely refers to “social and environmental safeguards”, which have yet to be defined. It mentions the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (which says that “indigenous peoples have the right to determine and develop priorities and strategies for the development or use of their lands or territories and other resources”), but the declaration isn’t binding. Two recent reports (3) on respect for indigenous peoples in REDD programmes indicate that the land rights of local inhabitants and principles of consultation and information have been systematically flouted.

Over the past six years, a range of projects have been financed by enterprises (Shell and Gazprom in Indonesia, BP in Bolivia, and Rio Tinto in Australia), by countries (Norway in Brazil and Indonesia, France in Mexico) and special funds belonging to international institutions such as the World Bank and UN agencies. The Cancún Agreements did not decide how the REDD programme was to be financed but the idea, still championed by the World Bank, of offering REDD carbon credits on the global emissions market already seems less viable.

It is now accepted that the markets have done nothing to help reduce carbon emissions or to promote the financing of a less polluting economy. Kate Dooley, an expert on forests at the NGO Fern, says carbon trading does not encourage people to use less carbon but gives the illusion that it’s possible to compensate for pollution. She fears that if REDD were to become part of the carbon trading market, there could be a wave of land speculation based on assigning a “carbon value” to forests. But the so-called developed nations, which are historically responsible for climate change, have refused to finance REDD alone. A decision on the issue has therefore been put off until COP 17, to be held in Durban, South Africa, 28 November—9 December 2011.

All the World Bank reports stress that public money will not be enough to finance the establishment of REDD; private funding is also needed — estimates range from $15bn to $50bn per year, but the funds currently available amount to only $2bn. And a question remains: what is to be done about the smallholders who want to continue growing maize while conserving some of their land? At COP 16, Mexico’s president Felipe Calderón declared: “We will pay the smallholders to plant trees instead of maize on the mountain, and live on payments they will receive for environmental services.”

Comments Off

Filed under Carbon Trading, Chiapas, Climate Change, Climate Justice, False Solutions to Climate Change, Indigenous Peoples, REDD, UNFCCC

Photo Essay: UN Climate COP: Corporate Exhibitionism (parting shots)

Note:  Anne Petermann and I went to our first UNFCCC COP (Conference of the Polluters) in 2004 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.  One  of my first observations was that this was a bizarre trade show–from ‘clean coal’ to ‘clean nuclear’ to a clean way to get fucked.  Smile.  I was not impressed.  Well,  going into the exhibition center was more exciting than the plenaries packed with, for the most part,  suited charlatans. Fast forward to Montreal, Nairobi, Bali, Poznan, Copenhagen, Cancún and now all the way  to Durban, South Africa; and guess what?–the 1% have been and still are in control (for now). But one of the good things that has happened over these years is that the resistance has risen from a couple of handfuls of us to thousands.  It is evident to GJEP that the COP process is nothing more than the rich figuring out how to make more money off Mother Earth and her inhabitants under the guise of addressing climate change.  So this photo essay, with text by Anne Petermann, is my parting shot to this entire unjust, racist, classist, land-grabbing COP crap.  No to the next meeting in Dubai and yes to mobilization for the Peoples Summit during Rio +20.  GJEP will continue to support the social movements, Indigenous Peoples and those who struggle for justice. Please enjoy the trade show photos and note that the last two photos in this series show the discrepancy between the 1% and the 99%.  Orin Langelle for the GJEP Team.

All photos:  Langelle/GJEP       Captions:  Anne Petermann

The Road to Rio.  “Wait, I think we spelled that wrong–isn’t it supposed to be “Greed Economy”?

“Ohm…no Fukushimi…Ohm…no Fukushima…”

” Look into the blank screen… You are feeling sleepy…Join us…join us…join us…repeat after me…I believe in the green economy…Robert Zoellick is a nice guy…REDD will save the forests…The World Bank’s mission is poverty alleviation…”

What the World Bank said…

“Carbon bubble, what carbon bubble?  A ton of carbon is supposed to be cheaper than a pizza.  Isn’t a pizza made of carbon?  It all makes sense to me!”
“With the Green Economy we can even make fabrics out of tree pulp!  Fabulous Fashions From Foliage!  Yummy Eucalyptus unitards! Perky Plantation Pant Suits!  Thank God for the Green Economy!”
“We help cool down climate change by logging tropical forests…What, you gotta problem with that?”

“We magically transform ancient tropical forests into biodiesel plantations!.  Birds love ‘em!  (F*#k the orangutans).”

” Oooo…that panda makes me so hot…”

People need nature to thrive–which is why we have to protect nature from them!

“These charts clearly show that it’s the NGOs that are responsible for carbon emissions.  That’s why we have to ban NGOs from the climate talks; if there were no NGOs there would be no climate change.  Listen to me.  I’m a white guy and I know.”

“Screw you anti-capitalist NGO bastards. Market-based schemes like the CDM are the best solution to climate change!  So what if they don’t reduce carbon emissions.  Piss off.”

How the 1% live.  The pretentious Southern Sun Elangeni Hotel in Durban was host to the World Climate Summit, 3-4 December, which was a high-level and high-security event where business, finance and government leaders met to celebrate the glory of their green-ness with events like “The Gigatonne Award” for whatever company’s PR campaign was the biggest pile of “green” manure.

 The following week the corporate conference sponsors offered side events for UN government delegates on the theme of “Advancing Public-Private Partnerships for REDD+ and Green Growth” i.e. how to ensure profit-making as usual in the face of ecological collapse and rising public outrage.

How the 99% live.  This tent was where the delegation met that came to Durban with La Via Campesina, the world’s largest peasant organization.  Their slogan, Small Farmers Cool the Planet, confronts the myth that governments and the UN will take care of climate change for us and promotes the idea that bottom up, small scale, community-controlled and bioregionally appropriate solutions are what is needed. The building behind the tent was where La Via slept and ate meals–not as pretentious as the Southern Sun Elangeni Hotel, but the people were real.

Comments Off

Filed under Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Carbon Trading, Climate Change, Climate Justice, Corporate Globalization, Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Geoengineering, Land Grabs, Nuclear power, Photo Essays by Orin Langelle, REDD, UNFCCC

La Via Campesina Invites Allies to Share Perspectives in Durban

La Via Campesina, the largest federation of peasant farmers in the world, has brought a delegation of hundreds from across Africa to gatherings in and around the UNCOP 17 Climate Summit. As a federation of smallholder farmers and fisher groups, La Via Campesina opposes the kinds of top-down, market-driven policies promoted by the World Bank and the UN Climate Regime.

Yesterday we were invited, along with several of our friends and colleagues, to participate in a working session with La Via Campesina at their encampment near a highway overpass miles from the official summit.

Forthcoming, we hope to report on what La Via itself is doing here in Durban. For now, here are some snapshot portraits of GJEP’s allies and what they had to say yesterday. (Reporting: Jeff Conant. Photos Orin Langelle/GJEP)

“The talk now on the table at the COP is to base the Green Climate Fund on private investment. But if there is an investment, they need a return. What does that mean, a return on investment? It means the corporations, the private sector, and the financial industry want to set up the Green Climate Fund in a way that returns money to them. That’s why we call it the Greedy Corporate Fund.”

Lidy Nacpil, Jubilee South

 

“They say we are talking about the transition to a Green Economy – that capitalism has to turn green. This is like saying that a tiger is going to become a vegetarian.”

Lucia Ortiz, Rede, Brazil

 

“Before you trade anything, you have to determine, whose property is it? Before they can trade seeds, they have to determine, ‘who owns that seed?’. Some corporations own that seed. Well, who owns the carbon dioxide in the air? That’s what they are working out in the carbon markets and at these UN climate conventions. That’s why we call the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change the World Trade Organization of the Sky.”

Tom Goldtooth, Indigenous Environmental Network

 

“More than half of the gases that cause global warming come from the industrial food system. They say the industrial food system feeds the world. It’s bad food, it’s toxic food, it’s not very nutritious, but they say, ‘we are feeding the world,’ so we have to live with it. Well guess what? They’re lying. The industrial food system produces 30 percent of the food. The other 2/3 is produced by small farmers and fishers. Now they say they will stop using all the oil. Don’t believe them. They will use every drop of oil. But with that excuse, they say now, they will make green fuels. They will make fuels out of biomass. What is biomass? It is forests, it is fields, it is your harvest. They want to use all of this to make their fuels.”

Sylvia Ribeiro, ETC Group

 

“The FAO and others have reduced agriculture to counting carbon and putting a price on it. The value of the carbon is added to the value of the water and the crops that could be grown on the land, and this makes it appealing to investors, which leads to land grabs. But today, a ton of carbon is worth about 3 euros – less than a pizza. This may explain the somber mood of the talks in Durban.”

Rachel Smolker, BiofuelWatch

 

Renaldo Chingori Joao, Member of the International Coordinating Committee of la Via Campesina, Mozambique

Comments Off

Filed under Biodiversity, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Climate Change, Corporate Globalization, False Solutions to Climate Change, Geoengineering, Green Economy

GJEP’s Short Video on REDD in Chiapas Chosen for Native Spirit Film Festival

We’re proud to announce that the short documentary video Global Justice Ecology Project produced this past Spring, Amador Hernandez, Chiapas: Starved of Medical Services for REDD+, (watch film below) is being shown this week in London as part of Native Spirit Film Festival. The festival is a season of films, performances and workshops celebrating the cultures of Indigenous Peoples across the Earth, founded and counselled by Indigenous people, as a platform to promote the voices of Indigenous cultures and the protection of their rights.

According to the festival’s program, which you can download here, the themes for this year are “defending culture in the face of modern development, responding to climate change, reconnecting with the land, the power of storytelling, cultural identity, guidance from the Elders and voices of youth, and finding a sense of belonging within the community.”

While our entry in the festival is a humble ten-minute documentary, the process of producing this short video, we think, was exemplary.

Komen Ilel's Fuyumi Labra (left) and Angél Galán (forefront) with GJEP's Communication Director,Jeff Conant (right) relax in Amador Hernandez before they begin a documentary overflight of the Lacandon jungle. photo: Langelle/GJEP-GFC

When Orin Langelle and I traveled to Chiapas this past March to investigate the emerging impacts of REDD+, we met with a small film collective, Komen Ilel. Two members of Komen Ilel, Angél Galán and Fuyumi Labra, excited about our project, volunteered to accompany us on a trek into the jungle. Because of the nature of our visit to the remote community of Amador Hernández, even as we began our two-day trek, there was no certainty that Angél and Fuyumi would be allowed to film. Indeed, due to a long history of outsiders taking disrespectful advantage of the villagers, there was no certainty that our colleagues, or their cameras, would be allowed to even set foot in the village.

After a ten-hour drive from San Cristóbal de las Casas to the military-occupied village of San Quintín, where the road ends at the border of the Montes Azules Biosphere Reserve, our small crew was met by representatives from Amador Hernández. They took us to a nearby village to spend the night before traveling further into the jungle.

There, we spoke, formally at first, and then with more ease. Our goal, we said, was to interview the villagers about any concerns they might have about REDD+ as it was manifesting there in the Lacandon jungle. The young man speaking for the village said that their concern, above all, was to let the world know of a particular injustice they were suffering: a year previous to our visit, the government had cancelled all medical service to the village. Several children and elders had died as a direct consequence.

After some length of discussion, it became clear that the two concerns were one: the negation of medical services appeared to be part of the government’s strategy to pressure Amador Hernández to negotiate for relocation, in large part due to the need to demarcate the borders of the Montes Azules Reserve for a forest-carbon inventory.

With this revelation, we asked the village representative: could we bring our film crew and capture some interviews on film. Our documentary work, we said, might help the village to demand restoration of its right to health, and to its territory. He agreed that this was a good idea, but whether we would be permitted to film was a question for the village assembly.

The next morning we hiked fifteen kilometers, through the Lacandon’s black, boot-sucking mud, and arrived at the village by afternoon. After darkness fell, an assembly was called, and we – Orin, Angel, Fuyumi, and myself – were invited to attend, and to speak. To the forty or fifty Tseltal Mayan campesinos gathered in the dusty half-light of a bare solar-powered bulb we presented ourselves and declared our intentions. Our words, translated into Tseltal, were batted around the assembly, fed into the age-old process of lajan laja, or consensus-building.

Finally, the assembly decided that, yes, we could conduct our interviews, and yes, we could film anything we wanted. The only condition on their part was that, aside from whatever other material we would produce, we make sure that their primary concern – the withdrawal of medical services – be addressed, so the world would know.

It is to Angel and Fuyumi’s credit that the short video they produced for GJEP does precisely what the Amador Hernández community assembly requested – it tells the story of the withdrawal of health services, while making it clear that this concern is directly linked to government efforts to remove the village due to the demands of impending carbon deals.

We are extremely pleased and proud to have had this short video chosen as a selection in this year’s Native Spirit Film Festival.

— Jeff Conant, for GJEP

Amador Hernandez, Chiapas: Starved of Medical Services for REDD+


Comments Off

Filed under Biodiversity, Carbon Trading, Chiapas, Climate Change, False Solutions to Climate Change, Indigenous Peoples, Land Grabs, Latin America-Caribbean

September Photo of the Month: World Bank-Sponsored “Forest Protection” in Indonesia

Benoit Bosque, of the World Bank2
Benoit Bosquet, Coordinator of the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility, defends the bank’s role in “forest conservation” in Indonesia, where forest-based communities have been forcibly evicted at gunpoint, and their homes burned to the ground. Behind him is a photo of one such eviction. Photo: Petermann/GJEP

To read the full article about REDD in Indonesia in our blog Climate Connections, click here

———————————————————————————–

GJEP’s photos of the month usually feature the work of Orin Langelle, GJEP’s Co-director/Strategist, who is also a professional photographer.  This month, with the World Bank annual meetings just passed and the UN Climate Conference in Durban, South Africa coming up soon, we decided to post this photo by GJEP Executive Director Anne Petermann.

Orin Langelle is currently working on a book of four decades of his concerned photography.  From mid-June to mid-July Langelle worked on the book as an artist in residence at the Blue Mountain Center in New York’s Adirondack Mountains.

Also check out the GJEP Photo Gallery, past Photos of the Month posted on GJEP’s website, or Langelle’s photo essays posted on GJEP’s Climate Connections blog.

Global Justice Ecology Project explores and exposes the intertwined root causes of social injustice, ecological destruction and economic domination with the aim of building bridges between social justice, environmental justice and ecological justice groups to strengthen their collective efforts.  Within this framework, our programs focus on Indigenous Peoples’ rights, protection of native forests and climate justice.  We use the issue of climate change to demonstrate these interconnections. Global Justice Ecology Project is the North American Focal Point of the Global Forest Coalition.

Comments Off

Filed under Biodiversity, Carbon Trading, Climate Change, Climate Justice, False Solutions to Climate Change, Indigenous Peoples, Land Grabs, REDD

World Bank Forest Carbon Schemes Charged with Displacing Communities in the Global South, Furthering Pollution in the Global North

For Immediate Release                                  21 September 2011

 (Español debajo)

 Washington, DC – As the World Bank, the largest source of multilateral financing for forestry projects, [1] prepares for its fall meetings here, Global Justice Ecology Project charges that the Bank’s promotion of the controversial forest-carbon scheme called REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) harms both forests and forest dependent communities in developing countries, while encouraging continued pollution in vulnerable communities in developed countries like the U.S.

Following the announcement of a new sub-national REDD agreement between the states of California, USA, Chiapas, Mexico and Acre, Brazil during the UN Climate Conference in Cancun last December, Global Justice Ecology Project launched an investigation into the potential on-the-ground impacts of REDD. In March and April of 2011, GJEP traveled to Chiapas to investigate social and ecological impacts of the REDD project there, which is being designed to create carbon offset credits by quantifying the carbon stored by trees in the Montes Azules Biosphere Reserve in the Lacandon Jungle.

“During our investigation, we went to the community of Amador Hernandez, deep in the jungle,” stated Orin Langelle, from Global Justice Ecology Project.  “The villagers reported to us that the Mexican government was withholding medical services as a means to pressure them to leave.  If they refused, they feared the Mexican military would force them to leave, as has happened to other Indigenous communities in the Lacandon jungle.” [2]

Environmental justice groups also warn that REDD agreement will have detrimental impacts on people in California. “The carbon offsets from this REDD agreement are going to allow people in places like Richmond and Wilmington, California to continue to be polluted and sickened by polluting industries like the Chevron and Tesoro oil refineries,” said Joaquín Quetzal Sánchez, Oakland, California-based Strategist for CrossRoots: Building a Sustainable Movement.

“This REDD agreement will harm communities on all sides of the border.  The only ones that win are the polluters,” Sanchez said. [3]

In October, GJEP will travel to Acre, Brazil to meet with groups concerned about the REDD project there, and to document the actual and potential impacts of the project. GJEP plans to bring representatives from Chiapas to this meeting to further opportunities for cross-border strategizing regarding the California-Chiapas-Acre REDD deal.

The effort to “protect forests” by removing the people that depend on them contradicts recent studies that demonstrate forests are best protected when the communities depending on them have legal title.  In a six-year study, CIFOR (the Center for International Forestry Research) found that, “Tropical forests designated as strictly protected areas have annual deforestation rates much higher than those managed by local communities”. [4]

The World Bank has been involved in the global forest/climate program known as REDD through its Forest Carbon Partnership Facility[5], announced by World Bank President Robet Zoellick, during the 2007 UN Climate Conference in Bali, Indonesia. The announcement met with strong popular protest, and the World Bank continues to draw sharp criticism for its role in promoting schemes that displace forest dependent communities and promote large-scale industrial tree plantations that could potentially include socially and ecologically dangerous genetically engineered trees. [6] [7]

Today is the International Day of Action Against Monoculture Tree Plantations.  Last year GJEP released this video highlighting their concerns about tree plantations and genetically engineered trees.

Contacts:

Anne Petermann, Executive Director, Global Justice Ecology Project; North American Focal Point, Global Forest Coalition +1.802.578.0477 (on site in Washington, DC)

Jeff Conant, Communications Director, Global Justice Ecology Project, +1.575.770.2829

Joaquin Sanchez, CrossRoots, +1 917.575.3154

###

Notes to Editors

[1] World Bank Forests and Forestry Issue Brief: http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/NEWS/0,,contentMDK:20103458~menuPK:34480~pagePK:34370~piPK:34424~theSitePK:4607,00.html

[2] “Turning the Lacandon Jungle Over to the Carbon Market,” Z Magazine, July 2011: http://www.zcommunications.org/turning-the-lacandon-jungle-over-to-the-carbon-market-by-jeff-conant

[3] The California Report: AB32 and Environmentalists: http://www.californiareport.org/archive/R201103220850/a

[4] 2011 Center for International Forestry Resarch (CIFOR) report: Community managed forests and forest protected areas: An assessment of their conservation effectiveness across the tropics

[5] The World Bank maintains three roles in the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility.  It is one of the main international climate initiatives set up to fund developing country REDD schemes.

[6] http://noredd.makenoise.org/

[7] http://nogetrees.org/

 

Para publicación inmediata

21 septiembre, 2011

Esquemas de carbono forestal del Banco Mundial acusados de adelantar la contaminación en el Norte Global, desplazando a las comunidades en el Sur Global

Washington, DC - Mientras el Banco Mundial, que es la mayor fuente de financiamiento multilateral para proyectos forestales, [1] se prepara para tener sus reuniones de otoño, el Proyecto por la Justicia Ecológica Global (Global Justice Ecology Project) acusa que la promocion por esta institución de la controversial plan conocido como REDD (Reducción de Emisiones por Deforestación y Degradación) esta perjudicando tanto a los bosques y las comunidades dependientes de los bosques en los países en desarrollo, y fomentando al mismo tiempo la contaminación continua en las comunidades más vulnerables en los países desarrollados como los EE.UU.

Tras el anuncio de un nuevo acuerdo sub-nacional de REDD entre los estados de California, EEUU, Chiapas, México y Acre, Brasil, durante la Conferencia Climática de la ONU en Cancún en diciembre pasado, el Proyecto por la Justicia Ecológica Global (GJEP) inició una investigación sobre los impactos potenciales y actuales de REDD. En marzo y abril del 2011, GJEP viajó a Chiapas para investigar los impactos sociales y ecológicos del proyecto REDD, que está siendo diseñado para crear créditos de compensación de carbono mediante la cuantificación del carbono almacenado por los árboles en la Reserva de la Biosfera Montes Azules en la Selva Lacandona.

“Durante nuestra investigación fuimos a la comunidad de Amador Hernández, en la selva profunda”, dijo Orin Langelle, del Proyecto por la Justicia Ecológica Global. “Los aldeanos nos informaron de que el gobierno mexicano está utilizando la retención de servicios médicos como un medio para presionarlos para que abandonen sus tierras. Tienen miedo de que al negarse abandonar sus tierras los militares mexicanos les obliguen a salir por la fuerza, como ha sucedido con otras comunidades indígenas en la selva Lacandona. “[2]

Grupos de justicia ambiental también advierten que el acuerdo REDD tendrá un impacto negativo en la población de California. “La compensación de carbono a partir de este acuerdo REDD va a seguir permitiendo la contaminación de comunidades como Richmond y Wilmington, California, causadas por refinerías de petróleo como Chevron y Tesoro”, dijo Joaquín Quetzal Sánchez, estratega basado en Oakland, California y parte del grupo CrossRoots: Construyendo un Movimiento Sostenible.

“Este acuerdo de REDD dañará las comunidades en ambos lados de la frontera. Los únicos que ganan son los que contaminan”, dijo Sánchez [3]

En octubre, GJEP viajará a Acre, Brasil, para reunirse con los grupos interesados ​​en el proyecto REDD en ese lugar y para documentar los impactos reales y potenciales del proyecto. GJEP planea traer a representantes de Chiapas a este encuentro para crear nuevas oportunidades y establecer estrategias transfronterizas en relación con el acuerdo sobre REDD en California-Chiapas-Acre.
La idea de “proteger los bosques” mediante la expulsión de las comunidades que dependen de ellos contradice estudios recientes que demuestran que los bosques están mejor protegidos cuando aquellas comunidades que dependen de ellos tienen títulos de propiedad. En un estudio de seis años, el CIFOR (Centro para la Investigación Forestal Internacional) encontró que, “Los bosques tropicales designados como áreas de protección tienen las tasas anuales de deforestación mucho más altas que aquellas administradas por las comunidades locales” [4]

El Banco Mundial ha estado involucrado en el programa global forestal/climático conocido como REDD a través de su “Forest Carbon Partnership Facility” [5], anunciado por el presidente del Banco Mundial Robet Zoellick, durante la Conferencia Climática de la ONU en 2007 en Bali, Indonesia. El anuncio fue recibido con fuertes protestas populares, el Banco Mundial continúa atrayendo duras críticas por su papel en la promoción de esquemas que desplazan a las comunidades dependientes de los bosques y al mismo tiempo promover grandes plantaciones industriales de árboles que podrían afectar socialmente y ecológicamente por este tipo de árboles genéticamente modificados. [6] [7]

Hoy es el Día Internacional de Acción Contra los “Monocultivos” de Árboles. GJEP publicó el año pasado este video destacando su preocupación por las plantaciones de árboles y árboles de ingeniería genética.

Contactos:

Anne Petermann, Directora Ejecutiva, Proyecto por la Justicia Ecológica Global; North American Focal Point, Global Forest Coalition +1.802.578.0477 (localizada en Washington, DC)

Jeff Conant, Director de Comunicación, Proyecto por la Justicia Ecológica Global, +1.575.770.2829

Joaquín Sanchez, CrossRoots, +1.917.575.3154

###

Notas:

[1] World Bank Forests and Forestry Issue Brief: http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/NEWS/0,,contentMDK:20103458~menuPK:34480~pagePK:34370~piPK:34424~theSitePK:4607,00.html

[2] “Turning the Lacandon Jungle Over to the Carbon Market,” Z Magazine, July 2011: http://www.zcommunications.org/turning-the-lacandon-jungle-over-to-the-carbon-market-by-jeff-conant

[3] The California Report: AB32 and Environmentalists: http://www.californiareport.org/archive/R201103220850/a

[4] 2011 Center for International Forestry Resarch (CIFOR) report: Community managed forests and forest protected areas: An assessment of their conservation effectiveness across the tropics

[5] The World Bank maintains three roles in the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility.  It is one of the main international climate initiatives set up to fund developing country REDD schemes.

[6] http://noredd.makenoise.org/

[7] http://nogetrees.org/

Comments Off

Filed under Biodiversity, Carbon Trading, Chiapas, Climate Change, Climate Justice, GE Trees, Indigenous Peoples, REDD

Do Trees Grow on Money?

 A UN-Backed Plan to Address Climate Change by Slowing Deforestation Sounds Like a Good Idea. Unless You Live in the Forest

Note: Global Justice Ecology Project Comunications Director Jeff Conant and Co-Director/ Strategist Orin Langelle traveled to the community of Amador Hernandez in the Lacandon Jungle of Chiapas, Mexico in March of this year.  While there, residents were interviewed about their opinions regarding use of forests as carbon offsets, and about the threats of relocation the community was facing due to plans to “protect” the forest and sell its carbon to California companies as offsets.  A statement was recently released by the communities of the region of Amador Hernandez condemning REDD+ (the scheme to Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation).  You can read that statement here.

Cross-Posted from the Autumn 2011 edition of Earth Island Journal

BY JEFF CONANT (Communications Director for Global Justice Ecology Project)

In Mayan cosmology, the ceiba tree, with its elephantine, silver-grey trunk that towers above the jungle, is the tree of life, shoring up the corners of the sky and sending its roots deep into the underworld. In the centuries following the conquest of the New World, Mayans by the thousands were forced to work in monterias, or timber camps, and the ancestral role of the ceiba as a bridge between the world above and the world below gave way to the board-feet of timber the trees surrendered when felled. The ensuing rush for sugar, for rubber, for minerals, and for cattle left the jungles of Mesoamerica reduced to a fraction of their original area and devastated the peoples who once thrived there.

Today, another vision is shaping the jungles of southern Mexico: The idea that protecting forests is central to the struggle against global warming.

aerial photo of a tree plantation
photo of two women conversing

photos courtesy Orin Langelle  

Under REDD, “forests” may also mean plantations.

Tropical deforestation and forest degradation contribute between 12 and 20 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, as some 13 million hectares of forest are lost annually. The Lacandon Jungle on the border of Chiapas and Guatemala is a case in point: Only about 10 percent of the jungle remains intact. Saving forested areas like the Lacandon is key to reducing the impacts of runaway climate change.

Past efforts to reduce deforestation, like setting up protected areas or promoting sustainable land-use practices, have had limited success. That’s because the drivers of deforestation – agriculture, mining, fossil fuel extraction, paper demand – offer rich financial rewards. But what if forests were more valuable left standing than cut down?

A new policy mechanism is being developed to do just that. Dubbed REDD, for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation, the mechanism (along with a list of spin-offs such as REDD+ and REDD++) is backed by major multilateral institutions such as the United Nations and the World Bank. Support for REDD spans the spectrum of green groups, from market-minded conservation NGOs likeEnvironmental Defense and Conservation International to more capital-skeptic outfits like Greenpeace.

At a high-level event during COP16, the UN climate summit last year in Cancún, Mexico, pilot REDD projects were hailed by heads of state and a gamut of global figures including primatologist Jane Goodall, Walmart CEO Sam Walton, and billionaire philanthropist George Soros. The World Bank’s Robert Zoellick called REDD “the best chance, perhaps the last chance, to save the world’s forests.” Zoellick admitted that the policy still has some kinks, but closed his remarks to great applause with one of the mantras of the summit: “Let’s not make the perfect the enemy of the good.”

After the applause died down, Linda Adams, the head of California EPA, took the stage and announced that, as one of his last acts in office, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger had signed a carbon trading agreement, predicated on a REDD scheme, with the state of Chiapas. Adams called the plan “a way for California to help the developing world by investing in forests.”

“Saving our forests is good not only for the atmosphere,” she said. “It’s also good for Indigenous Peoples.” Chiapas Governor Juan Sabines, on hand to promote his state’s comprehensive Climate Change Action Program, nodded in vigorous agreement.

But as official delegates applauded REDD in Cancún’s plenary halls, grassroots activists in the streets were staging protests against the policy. Benign as it may appear, what outsiders see as forest protection many locals see as the potential loss of their homes. REDD is fiercely contested by many human rights advocates and Indigenous Peoples’ organizations, who see in it the continuation of colonial resource extraction at best, and at worst perhaps the largest land grab in history.

Tom Goldtooth, Director of the North America-based Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN), has called REDD “a violation of the sacred, and the commodification of life.” Goldtooth warns that the policy won’t actually reduce emissions, that it is already violating communities’ rights, and that it relies too much on the market. IEN, along with the Global Forest CoalitionWorld Rainforest MovementFriends of the Earth International, and La Via Campesina, the world’s largest federation of peasant farmers, came away from Cancún charging that the UN, in promoting REDD, had become “the World Trade Organization of the Sky.”

“When a natural function like forest respiration becomes a product with a price, it’s easy to see who’s going to end up with control of the forests.”

The REDD scheme unfolding in Chiapas offers a particularly compelling test for this controversial idea. Home to most of Mexico’s tropical trees, a third of its mammal species, and half of its bird and butterfly species, the Lacandon is also, famously, home to the Zapatista Army of National Liberation, the insurgent rebel group that rose up in 1994 to demand that Indigenous Peoples be allowed to control their own territories. That struggle, and the Mexican government’s response, has engendered paramilitary massacres, years of counterinsurgency, and tens of thousands of displaced people – and it can be traced, in part, to a decades-old agreement that took as its pretext the protection of the Lacandon. The region’s rich biodiversity, open conflicts over land tenure, and the potential investment from California make Lacandon a fascinating test case – or an instructive cautionary tale – of what REDD may bring.

REDD, in Black and White

REDD works like this: Because trees capture and store CO2, maintaining intact forests is essential to mitigating climate change. REDD proposes that governments, companies, or forest owners in the global South be given financial incentives for keeping their forests standing. REDD was formally taken up by the UN-sponsored climate change talks in Bali in 2007. Since then it has moved rapidly to the forefront of the climate agenda. Norway, its biggest donor, has pledged upwards of $120 million to the UN REDD program, and given $1 billion each to Indonesia and a confederation of Amazonian states to establish the program. In December 2010, REDD was adopted into the UN’s Cancún Agreements, the closest thing to an extension of the Kyoto Protocol.

While paying to preserve forests appears to be a long-overdue gesture of goodwill, it brings up an array of thorny questions. For starters, what is meant by “forests”? Because the UN’s definition is unclear, “forests” under REDD may include monoculture tree plantations or even genetically engineered trees. Since timber, paper, and biofuel plantations are more lucrative than natural forests, REDD could fund the destruction of native forests and their replacement with tree plantations.

Leap of Faith

One reason why REDD appears compelling is that, given the rapacious demand for resources, it is difficult to imagine a counterforce strong enough to halt forest destruction. Another is the deadlock in the UN negotiations. Nations’ resistance to binding emissions reductions makes REDD one of the only games around.

But even such a bastion of market fundamentalism asThe Economist magazine suggests that “REDD may not be possible at all,” due to factors including corruption and the fact that most of those who live in and care for forests do not have legal title to their lands.

Still, if there is an opportunity for business, business will be done. New private carbon-marketing firms are springing up daily to prepare for the windfall from REDD. One such firm is Boston-based Ecologic Development Fund. Ecologic’s director, Sean Paul, has years of experience promoting Payment for Environmental Services projects. Paul appears genuinely devoted to preserving forests; REDD is one way to do this, and Ecologic supports it, including a REDD initiative in the Lacandon. Yet Paul himself is ambivalent: “Part of the challenge of REDD,” Paul says, “is that a lot of people see a gravy train, a gold rush. I see a lot of investors excited at the prospect of carbon trading. But all that excitement is around the trading – it has so little to do with the people, and the forest.”

Pavan Sukhdev, former head of the UN Environment Programme’s Green Economy Initiative, estimates the value of global ecosystem goods at $4.5 trillion per year. “The rewards are very clear,” Sukhdev says.

The problem is how to generate these rewards, literally out of thin air. The offsets-based REDD scheme that is in the pipeline requires a stable and reliable carbon market. And so far there isn’t one.

The US Government Accountability Office reports that carbon offsets are impossible to verify, warning that “it is not possible to ensure that every credit represents a real, measurable, and long-term reduction in emissions.” The US Congress failed to pass a national carbon-trading initiative last July, and the European Carbon Market – the largest in the world – is proving fatally flawed, with uncontrollable price volatility and regulations that seem to incentivize more climate pollution, not less. After European emissions rose to unprecedented levels in 2010, Friends of the Earth-Europe called the system “an abject failure.”

But in business, failure can be generative: Billions have been made through ventures that failed, such as subprime mortgages and derivatives. For the believers, faith in the market remains strong. At a Carbon Expo in Barcelona this summer, representatives of Point Carbon, a global firm that provides technical support for business, wore buttons that read, “I can’t help it – I still believe in markets.”—JC

Beyond the ecological concerns, REDD is proving exceedingly elusive to put into practice. One fundamental question is: Where will the money come from? At present, there is no “compliance market” for REDD – meaning it is not yet part of any mandated legislative effort to reduce emissions. Of numerous government-sponsored REDD projects worldwide, the agreement between California and Chiapas, expected to come on line by 2015, is the most advanced.

The most likely source of funding for REDD is a combination of private investment and multilateral funds, boosted by a huge dose of carbon offsets from industry in wealthy nations. An offset-based REDD will allow those who protect forests to earn carbon credits – financial rewards based on the amount of CO2 a forest can store and a market-derived price per ton of CO2. Governments (or NGOs, or local communities) that protect forests can then trade these credits to industrial polluters for revenue that, in theory, provides incentive not to cut down trees.

But if the money comes from carbon offsets, as the UN and the California protocol propose, this means that even if deforestation is reduced, industrial emissions – the main driver of climate change – will not be.

The offsets component brings REDD strong support from the fossil fuel industry. BP (yes, that BP) recently became the first company to join the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility, which will allow the company to offset its emissions. REDD’s market-share potential has also attracted the financial services industry – Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs, and Morgan Stanley – the same Wall Street speculators that threw the global banking systems into a tailspin.

The whole idea is based on the notion of “Payment for Environmental Services.” To the market-minded, this is a pioneering method for quantifying the worth of ecosystems, thus incentivizing their preservation. Many in the global South, however, see it as the rationale for a wholesale privatization of territories and natural resources. Gustavo Castro of the Chiapas-based NGO Otros Mundos says, “When a natural function like forest respiration becomes a product with a price, it’s easy to see who’s going to end up with control of the forests.”

That is, the people who have the cash to put up the protection money.

REDD Alert in Chiapas

Amador Hernández is a village of about 1,500 Tzeltal Mayan peasant farmers set deep inside the Montes Azules Biosphere Reserve in the Lacandon Jungle. Three months after the Cancún talks, as darkness fell over the village assembly hall there, a few dozen villagers gathered in the dusty glare of a single solar-powered lightbulb to talk about the climate policies that were lapping at the edges of their territory like the first ripples of an oncoming flood. One villager, Santiago Martinez, explained REDD to the assembly in broad strokes: “REDD is a program the government is promoting to do what they call ‘capturing carbon,’ and conserving the jungle,” he said. “From what we’ve heard, it’s a global program led by rich people, businessmen, Europeans.”

Martinez was opposed to the program; among the reasons was concern that it would require abandoning their lands and traditional farming methods. The worries were fueled by recent government messages warning that a team would come through the village shortly to measure property lines and evict any ‘irregular settlers.”

The villagers clearly perceived this as the legacy of a land tenure arrangement that has been at the heart of conflicts in the Lacandon for decades. In 1971, the Mexican government ceded over a 1.5 million acres to the Lacandon tribe – one of the six Indigenous groups in Chiapas – which at the time consisted of only 66 families. Seven years later, the government created the 800,000-acre Montes Azules Biosphere Reserve, overlapping the Lacandon territory. In order to give the first chunk of territory to the Lacandones, and to protect the second as a reserve, 2,000 Tzeltal and Ch’ol families – 26 villages – were moved. Among the displaced were some families who later came to form Amador Hernández.

The resulting tension between the Lacandones and the rest of the region’s Indigenous groups led to the formation of several peasant farmer organizations demanding redress; some of these groups later coalesced into the Zapatista Army of National Liberation. The militant response made it impossible for the Mexican government to draw solid boundaries around the land in question. Now, with the promise of financing under REDD, the government is making a renewed attempt to get the boundaries drawn, to expel anyone without land title, and to inventory the Montes Azules Reserve to quantify, and then bring to market, the area’s carbon storage potential.

Earlier this year, the Chiapas government began distributing 2,000 pesos a month (roughly $200) to each Lacandon landholder. The payments were authorized, according to a government statement, “to allow the completion of the forest inventory so that [the Lacandon community] can access federal and international funds, as well as complement these funds with projects such as agricultural conversion outside the Reserve with species such as oil palm and rubber.” In the abstract, the money is incentivizing forest protection. But in the words of the villagers of Amador Hernández, the purpose of the payments is “to guard the border against their neighbors – that is, us.”

The most publicized aspects of REDD in Chiapas are the payments to the Lacandones and a program to train them as “environmental police.” As a Lacandon man named Chankayun said, “Yes, there are other poor Indigenous communities living in our territory, and I hope we can come to a peaceful agreement for them to find another place to live.” Governor Sabines speaks openly about the need to resettle jungle communities, and makes regular visits to the Lacandon to distribute funds and good will. “The jungle can’t wait,” he said in June. “Of 179 ‘irregular’ settlements within the jungle’s protected area, most have been removed and only eleven remain. Of these, some are Zapatistas. We hope they leave voluntarily, but if they want to stay, they stay.”

But what Governor Sabines describes as voluntary resettlement takes on a darker shade from the viewpoint of those with no land rights. At the village assembly in Amador Hernández, villagers stood up one by one to denounce what they perceived as a land grab. A year before, the villagers said, all government medical services, including vaccinations, had been cut off; several elderly people and children died due to lack of medical attention. This neglect, they believed, was due to their refusal to capitulate to the demands of REDD. “They’re attacking our health as a way of getting access to our land,” Martinez said.

The case of Amador Hernández appears extreme, but it’s hardly unique. As preparations for REDD are laid around the world, Indigenous communities in other countries – Ecuador, Peru, Congo – are saying, with increasing urgency, that forest protection without land rights represents a direct threat to their ways of life.

The Price of an Arm and a Leg?

A cornerstone of the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is a provision called Free, Prior, and Informed Consent. FPIC, as it is known, offers a theoretical bulwark against human rights abuses by declaring that Indigenous Peoples must have a say in projects that affect them. It is central to debates over REDD. Some argue that REDD can work as long as it includes FPIC safeguards. But FPIC is nonbinding, and as the case of Amador Hernández shows, it rarely works.

In Chiapas, where the Zapatista movement rose up in arms precisely because Indigenous voices had been disregarded for five centuries, “informed consent” has never been a consideration. Gustavo Castro says: “There’s a lot of talk in the government’s documents, in the REDD scheme, of the need for consultation. But there haven’t been any consultations, and I don’t believe there will be.”

photo of a girl carrying a package in a field
photo of a man and a boy

photos courtesy Orin Langelle   

What outsiders see as forest protection many locals see as loss of their homes.

Discussing the practical aspects of community participation, Castro is dour: “When we talk about consultations, we have to take into account who does it, and what we mean by ‘prior’ and ‘informed.’ What they say to the communities is, ‘We’re protecting the planet, we’re fighting climate change, and we’ll pay you to help.’ So then the consultation consists of one question: ‘Are you with us?’ And the answer you can expect from rural communities is, ‘Of course we are.’”

There’s little doubt that pouring money into rural communities involves serious challenges. As Miguel Angel García, whose NGO Maderas del Pueblo supports ecological projects in the Lacandon, says, “This whole thing is bringing on a terrible cultural transformation. Putting forests, a common good, into the market has the effect of tearing the social fabric and generating economic interests that go directly against the interests and values of the Indigenous peoples. And it’s causing death; not only physical death, but the death of a culture, and of a cosmovision. It’s an ethnocide.”

To be clear: Groups that oppose REDD are not against receiving funds from wealthy nations to maintain forests. The social movements that oppose REDD generally favor the creation of a fund to pay for the resources that industrialized nations have consumed. This is the idea of “climate debt.” Led by Bolivia, a coalition of more than 50 governments has submitted a proposal to the UN demanding that the costs of adapting to the climate crisis be borne by the countries that created the crisis, as a kind of reparations. It’s not that they don’t want payment; it’s that they don’t want payment based on pollution permits and market speculation.

Pablo Solon, until recently Bolivia’s Ambassador to the UN, offers a haunting analogy: “Through REDD they want to put a price on nature. Our point of view is that you can’t do that, and I’ll explain why: In Bolivia, if you lose an arm or a leg, you receive compensation of around $1,000. But can you imagine a situation where you create a market for arms and legs for $1,000 each? Sure, we need the money to pay for the operation. But the intention is not to commodify your arm.”

Solon’s analogy points to the core tension in the REDD scheme: We should protect forests because, like our own limbs, they have intrinsic value.

To think that global policy will ever be guided by the principle of forests’ inherent worth and Indigenous Peoples’ rights is perhaps naïve. But no less naïve, and certainly no less dangerous, is faith that the market, and the industrial society that drives it, can solve the global catastrophe it precipitated.

As global climate negotiations continue to generate friction without momentum, the world’s forests continue to burn in great blazes and to fall before an onslaught of mining, agribusiness, and timber plantations. REDD’s proponents envision a way to buy our way out of the cycle of destruction. And those who have inhabited and protected the world’s forests for millennia – and whose cultures have been devastated by the race to exploit resources – continue to press for a better deal. 7142.jpg

Jeff Conant is author of A Community Guide to Environmental Health and is Communications Director at Global Justice Ecology Project.

For the complete list of articles, photo essays and action alerts from the situation in the Lacandon Jungle of Chiapas, click here

Comments Off

Filed under Biodiversity, Carbon Trading, Chiapas, Climate Change, False Solutions to Climate Change, Indigenous Peoples, Latin America-Caribbean, REDD

Communique from the communities of the Amador Hernandez region, Montes Azules, Lacandon Jungle

A view of the Lacandon jungle from Amador Hernandez. Photo: Langelle/GJEP-GFC

Note: GJEP received this communique from COMPITCH (Consejo de Médicos y Parteras Indígenas Tradicionales de Chiapas –Council of Traditional Indigenous Doctors and Midwives from Chiapas).  The communique was translated into English by Trisha Novak.  In March of 2011, GJEP’s Jeff Conant and Orin Langelle went to Amador Hernandez in Chiapas, Mexico to investigate the threatened forced relocation of the community and it’s relation to REDD+ and the California-Chiapas, Mexico-Acre, Brazil climate deal.

Español debajo

The indigenous communities of the Amador Hernandez region, Montes Azules Biosphere Reserve, in the Lacandon Jungle communicate the following:

To the people of Mexico, to the people of the world, to the organizations and groups that do not serve the power interests but those of their own people, the lower classes.

On 20 and 21 August, the communities of the region had a forum in the Amador Hernandez common area entitled:  Regional Forum Against the Lacandona Brecha (the official border that would delimit the Montes Azules Biosphere Reserve) and the Capitalist Looting of the Lacandon Jungle, and we approved the following:

D E C L A R A T I O N

  1. We reject and will not tire of confirming our rejection of the passing through the Lacandona Brecha next to our lands because it has as its purpose to make available the lands in the [Biosphere Reserve] to the service of the capitalist powers.
  1. The REDD+ project in the Montes Azules Reserve is the new mask, a climate mask, with which the federal government of Felipe Calderon and the Chiapas government of Juan Sabines attempt to cover up the dispossession of the biodiversity of the peoples.
  1. Speaking of climate change, it is clear to us that those who are most responsible are the capitalist enterprises and their governments, just like the federal government of Felipe Calderon and the Chiapas government of Juan Sabines, who have made a pact with the wealthy countries to allow that their greenhouse gas emissions be mitigated by the forests of our people.
  1. We reject all the ways in which the federal and the Chiapas governments and directors of organizations in service to the capitalists, want to dispossess us of our lands and our resources, through programs such as:  REDD+ (in the Montes Azules Reserve), Reconversion Productiva (Productive Restructuring), Pago de Servicios Ambientales (Payment for Environmental Services) and FANAR (Fund for Agricultural Entities without Regularization).

We point out the dual purpose of these programs: to dispossess us, but also to change our culture in order to disorganize us and neutralize our resistance.

  1. We denounce the control that the federal government exercises over the   people which, by decree (1972), it called the Lacandon, and which it has been using to legitimize all the plans for taking the lands and displacement of our peoples.
  1. We reject the projects for tourism by the capitalists or of the federal or Chiapas governments, such as the one that has divided the common lands of Emiliano Zapata in Laguna de Miramar.
  1. We reject monocultures, especially for biofuels and the new peonage that the peasant undergoes on his own land, just as the big landowners imposed in times of the Porfirio dictatorship.
  1. We reject the policy of land seizures promoted by the World Bank, conservationist organizations and their neo-liberal governments like that of Chiapas.
  1. Likewise, we reject the other face of “development:”  mining projects approved for regions that are not important for conservation and transnational exploitation of diversity, as happens in the Municipality of Chicomuselo where the people are resisting.
  1.  We demand agrarian regularization of the communities of Galilea, Benito Juarez Miramar and Chumcerro, located within the Montes Azules Biosphere Reserve.

W E   P R O P O S E

To reorganize ourselves and expand at every level our relationships with other peoples and with independent organizations that are not at the service of the powerful in order to build a network of resistance among the peoples.

To develop internal plans in our communities to strengthen the production of our own foods.

To strengthen ourselves in the word of God and the community memory of our grandparents.

Agreement made in Ejido Amador Hernandez, Reserva de Biosfera Montes Azules, Selva Lacandona, Chiapas, Mexico, 21 August 2011

———————————————-

Comunicado de las comunidades de la región Amador Hernández, Montes Azules, Selva Lacandona

Las Comunidades Indígenas de la región Amador Hernández, Reserva de Biosfera Montes Azules, en la Selva Lacandona, comunican lo siguiente:

Al Pueblo de México, a los Pueblos del Mundo, a las Organizaciones y grupos que no sirven a los intereses del poder sino a los de su propia gente, la gente de abajo.

Los días 20 y 21 de agosto, las comunidades de la región celebramos un Foro en el ejido Amador Hernández, denominado: Foro Regional en Contra de la Brecha Lacandona y el Despojo Capitalista de la Selva Lacandona, y aprobamos la siguiente:

 D  E  C  L  A  R  A  C  I  O  N

1. Rechazamos, y no nos cansaremos de ratificarlo, el paso de la brecha Lacandona al lado de nuestras tierras porque tiene como propósito disponer las tierras medidas del lado Lacandón en servicio de las potencias capitalistas.

2. El proyecto REDD+ en la Reserva de Montes Azules es la nueva máscara, máscara climática, con la que el gobierno Federal de Felipe Calderón y el de Chiapas de Juan Sabines pretenden encubrir el despojo de la biodiversidad de los pueblos.

3. Hablando del cambio del clima, para nosotros está claro que los responsables mayores son las empresas capitalistas y sus gobiernos, como el Federal de Felipe Calderón y el de Chiapas de Juan Sabines, que han pactado con los países ricos que sus emisiones de gases de efecto invernadero se mitiguen en los bosques de nuestros pueblos.

4. Rechazamos todas las formas con las que los gobiernos, federal y de Chiapas, y dirigentes de organizaciones, en servicio de los capitalistas, quieren despojarnos de nuestras tierras y de nuestros recursos. Como los programas: REDD+ (en la Reserva de Montes Azules), Reconversión Productiva, Pago de Servicios Ambientales y FANAR. Llamamos a estar pendientes de la doble intención de esos programas: despojarnos pero también cambiar nuestra cultura para desorganizarnos y neutralizar nuestra resistencia.

5. Denunciamos el control que el gobierno federal ejerce sobre el pueblo que por decreto (1972) llamó Lacandón, que ha venido utilizando para legitimar todos los planes de despojo de tierras y desalojos de nuestros pueblos.

6. Rechazamos los proyectos turísticos de los capitalistas o de los gobiernos federal y de Chiapas, como el que ha dividido al ejido Emiliano Zapata en la Laguna de Miramar.

7. Rechazamos los monocultivos, en especial los de agrocombustibles y el nuevo peonaje al que es sometido el campesino en su propia tierra, como los hacendados hacían en tiempos de la dictadura porfirista.

8. Rechazamos la política de acaparamiento de tierras impulsada por el banco mundial, las organizaciones conservacionistas y sus gobiernos neoliberales como el de Chiapas.

9. Rechazamos igualmente la otra cara del despojo: los proyectos de Minería, aprobados para regiones no importantes para la conservación y explotación trasnacional de la biodiversidad, como sucede en el municipio de Chicomuselo donde resisten los pueblos.

10. Exijimos la regularización agraria de las comunidades Galilea, Benito Juárez Miramar y Chumcerro, ubicadas dentro de la Reserva de Biosfera Montes Azules.

P  R  O  P  O  N  E  M  O  S

Reorganizarnos y ampliar a todos los niveles nuestras relaciones con otros pueblos y con organizaciones independientes que no sirvan al poder, para constituir una red de resistencia de los pueblos.

Elaborar planes internos en nuestras comunidades para fortalecer la producción de nuestros propios alimentos.

Fortalecernos en la palabra de Dios y en la memoria comunitaria de nuestros abuelos.

Acordado en el Ejido Amador Hernández, Reserva de Biosfera Montes Azules, Selva Lacandona, Chiapas, México, a 21 de agosto del 2011

2 Comments

Filed under Biodiversity, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Chiapas, Climate Change, Climate Justice, False Solutions to Climate Change, Food Sovereignty, Greenwashing, Indigenous Peoples, Land Grabs, Latin America-Caribbean, REDD