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Forest Peoples Programme February E-Newsletter
The newsletter can be downloaded from the FPP website by clicking here
Balancing human beings’ need for decent livelihoods against the imperative of securing our environment is, arguably, the biggest challenge facing our planet. This struggle between ‘development’ and ‘conservation’ is being played out in global policy negotiations, with the decisions of so-called policy-makers being imposed on the ground. But not everything is or should be ‘top down’. Enduring solutions also spring from the grassroots, from the ‘bottom up’.
In this newsletter we celebrate the sterling achievement of the Wapichan people who after a ten year effort mapping and agreeing how to use their ancestral lands in south Guyana, have released a comprehensive plan to secure their people’s livelihoods and set aside 1.4 million hectares of forest for conservation. The Wapichan now look to the Government of Guyana to secure their area and so make these plans effective. The example contrasts startlingly with the case of the Kaeng Krachang National Park in Thailand where security forces have been torching Karen villages and burning their rice stores to expel them from their forests. FPP joined with the Karen in appealing to the Thai Prime Minister to halt these abuses. This is an example of the old ‘Yellowstone Model’ of exclusionary conservation that seeks to create uninhabited wildernesses in indigenous peoples’ territories. It is a model of conservation that most conservationists have rejected in favour of a ‘new paradigm’ that respects people’s rights in Protected Areas. A pilot assessment of the Ob Luang National Park in northern Thailand has just been carried out, under the newly agreed ‘Whakatane Mechanism’, to see how far this new approach had been applied there. The team of observers, from IUCN, FPP, local communities, local NGOs and National Parks authorities, found that National Parks staff in Ob Luang have adopted a policy of joint management, accepted Karen and Hmong communities’ presence in the Park, and have explicitly endorsed these communities’ rights to their farmlands and to regulate the sustainable use of their forests.
Meanwhile, back at the top, the climate negotiations in Durban brought mixed results. The conference agreed that policies to reduce emissions from deforestation must go beyond securing carbon to ensure livelihoods and fair-sharing of benefits, but government parties baulked at accepting monitoring of rights, which is what indigenous peoples had demanded. The UN-REDD Programme however is near finalising its guidance on how Free, Prior and Informed Consent should be respected in forest and climate programmes. Moreover, a regional meeting in South East Asia of National Human Rights Institutions, with concerned community voices, indigenous peoples and NGOs, issued a Bali Declaration on Human Rights and Agribusiness which calls on States to protect community and indigenous peoples’ rights and for agribusinesses to observe human rights. Encouragingly, international banks who have adopted the Equator Principles recently affirmed that they will adhere to the revised Performance Standards of the International Finance Corporation, which requires indigenous peoples’ ‘Free, Prior and Informed Consent’ to projects planned on their lands.
Getting such standards applied on the ground is the bigger challenge. In Indonesia, communities have no recourse to the law, as the judiciary is not independent and the legal framework is unfavourable, so FPP partner NGO Scale Up has been pioneering alternative processes of dispute resolution. Already there are over 7,000 government-registered land disputes in Indonesia crying out for resolution. Across the world, in Belize, oil companies are moving in on Mayan peoples’ lands without their agreement. Not only are ‘development’ and the ‘environment’ still in collision, but policies are still being imposed from the top down without any room for a local voice. It is FPP’s role, when requested, to support these peoples to ensure they do have a determining voice about resource use in their areas. This is how ‘development’ and ‘conservation’ can really be balanced.
Wapichan people in Guyana present territorial map and community proposals to save ancestral forests
On 7 February 2012, more than 50 people attended a public event held at the Umana Yana (traditional meeting house) in the capital of Guyana (Georgetown), where leaders of the Wapichan people from South Rupununi District in south-west Guyana presented a community map of their traditional lands alongside a community plan for caring for the natural resources within their territory. In presentations made by the Wapichan communities’ Toshaos (leaders) and local organisation, the South Central Peoples Development Association (SCPDA), participants heard about the origins of this work and how the map and plan were developed. They also learned about key proposals in the territorial plan and the next steps for its implementation. Read more
Karen People forcibly expelled from the Kaeng Krachan National Park in Thailand
In January, indigenous peoples’ organisations sent a letter to the Prime Minister of Thailand, Yingluck Shinawatra, asking her to take immediate action to redress the forcible expulsion of Karen people from their ancestral territory in north-western Thailand, which is now overlapped by the Kaeng Krachan National Park. According to sources that have visited Kaeng Krachan National Park and collected information, the harassment of Karen villagers has been going on for some time and became severe in May, June and July 2011, when many of the villagers’ houses and rice stores were burned and money, jewellery, fishing and agricultural tools were stolen by a group comprising National Park wardens and military forces. As a result, some of these villagers moved away and are now staying with relatives elsewhere and a number of them (allegedly around 70 people) are hiding in the forest in fear of meeting government officers, and are without sufficient food and shelter. Read more
South East Asian Human Rights Commissioners and Indigenous Peoples’ Organisations adopt Bali Declaration on Human Rights and Agribusiness
Constructive dialogue and potential synergies between the National Human Rights Commissions and Institutions of Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines and Cambodia, reached an important milestone at a four-day workshop in November in Bali, Indonesia. The workshop was convened by the Indonesian National Human Rights Commission and organised by Forest Peoples Programme and Indonesian NGO SawitWatch, with the support of the Rights and Resources Initiative, Samdhana Institute and RECOFTC – The Center for People and Forests. This landmark workshop on “Human Rights and Business: Plural Legal Approaches to Conflict Resolution, Institutional Strengthening and Legal Reform” was attended by 60 participants, including notable academics, indigenous peoples’ representatives and members of supportive national and international NGOs. An opening statement was made by UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Olivier de Schutter, and a presentation was delivered by Raja Devasish Roy, elected Member of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNFPII) and traditional chief of the Chakma circle in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, Bangladesh. Read more
Pilot Whakatane Assessment in Ob Luang National Park, Thailand, finds exemplary joint management by indigenous peoples, local communities, National Park authorities and NGOs
Since its inception at the IUCN Commission on Environmental, Economic and Social Policy (CEESP) ‘Sharing Power’ conference in Whakatane, New Zealand, in January 2011, the Whakatane Mechanism has been piloted in two places: at Mount Elgon in Western Kenya and most recently in the Ob Luang National Park in Northern Thailand. The aim of the Whakatane Mechanism is to assess the situation in protected areas and, where people are negatively affected, to propose solutions and implement them. The Mechanism also aims to identify, celebrate and support successful protected areas where the new paradigm of conservation is being implemented. Joint management of the Ob Luang National Park is an example that should be shared. Since 2004, the park authorities, local communities and NGOs have been working together to implement joint management, taking special care to include women and young people. Read more
Durban COP 17: UNFCCC fudges decision on climate finance and makes little progress on REDD+ safeguard implementation
Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) at their recent COP17 did not support performance indicators for reporting on the implementation of indigenous peoples’ rights in REDD+. However, they did recognise that REDD+ benefits have to go beyond carbon to include biodiversity conservation and support for local livelihoods. Forest Peoples Programme, with a delegation of indigenous peoples from Guyana, Kenya, Cameroon, Suriname and Peru, attended preparatory negotiations and the 17th Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC in Durban, South Africa, in late November/early December 2011. The main purpose of FPP’s attendance was to support the Indigenous Peoples’ Caucus and closely follow negotiations on REDD+ safeguards and finance. Read more
The Importance of Mainstreaming Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) in Tenurial Conflict Resolution in Indonesia - A summary of ADR studies in Riau, West Sumatra, Jambi and South Sumatra, Indonesia. By Ahmad Zazali, Executive Director of Scale Up.
An on-going and heated debate is underway over the neglect of public access rights over forest resources in current modes of forest tenure in Indonesia. The role of local communities and their access to natural resources often overlap with the rights accorded to government/state enterprises and the private sector. The exploitation of forest resources has driven large companies to ignore the interests of these communities who live within and depend on forests for their livelihoods. This situation in turn has triggered the emergence of intra- and inter-community social conflict, conflict between communities and the government, as well as conflict between communities and companies. Read more
Update on recent UN-REDD Social and Environmental Principles and Criteria (SEPC) and Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) Workshops
From 8–11 February 2012 indigenous peoples’ representatives, civil society, NGO and state representatives gathered in Geneva to discuss the draft UN-REDD Programme Social and Environmental Principles and Criteria and the draft UN-REDD Programme Guidelines on Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC). Forest Peoples Programme (FPP), along with a number of NGO, state, and indigenous organisations (including FPP’s local partners from Paraguay, Indonesia and Panama), submitted written comments to both documents in advance. At the meeting in Geneva they then provided significant feedback to United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) representatives facilitating the event and taking the lead in drafting and revising the documents. Read more
The Equator Principles are being updated: under “EP III” process
The Equator Principles (EP) are a set of voluntary principles developed by private banks to guide their social and environmental risk management systems. Principle 3 provides the ‘Applicable Social and Environmental Standards’ which are supposed to be implemented according to the requirements of the remaining 9 principles. Read more
Belize: Threats to the rights of the Maya from oil exploration, mining, logging and plantation development
The Sarstoon-Temash Institute for Indigenous Management (SATIIM) has circulated two articles regarding the current violations of the rights of the Indigenous Peoples of Conejo, Belize, due to the government’s interest in oil development on the lands of Indigenous Peoples across Toledo. Read more
Posted By Angela Strader at 3:31pm on February 21, 2012
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