A Call to Action at COP25: Climate Finance Must Stop Excluding Indigenous Communities

Communities Dec 10, 2019
Beto Borges

To stabilize the forest frontier, we need to invest directly in the communities living there. Indigenous and traditional communities control one-third of remaining tropical forests. In the Amazon, the largest tropical forest on the globe, they own 210 million hectares (or some 519 million acres). As a direct result of their stewardship, deforestation rates are just 0.2% on average, even less than that of protected areas (1.4%). Their stewardship keeps 51 GT of CO2 from being emitted into the atmosphere, a huge contribution to avoid and revert climate change.

Yet, their efforts to protect the climate, water and biodiversity is carried out at their own expense, a huge sacrifice, and often paying with their own lives, as seen in the killings of two more Guajajara Indian chiefs in the Brazilian Amazon. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, specifically the REDD‑plus mechanism, has not yet rewarded indigenous people’s stewardship of the worlds’ forests, de facto excluding local communities and their vast territories from directly benefiting from climate finance.

This is the message that Forest Trends’ Communities and Territorial Governance Initiative, represented by Beto Borges, Chris van Dam and Roberto Espinoza, is bringing to the COP25 in Madrid. They are participating in several side events and press conferences with our indigenous partner organizations, AIDESEP, OPIAC, and CONFENIAE, we aim to secure effective partnerships to defend indigenous people’s forests from destruction and support the good governance of their territories.

Properly recognizing the contribution of indigenous peoples to keep millions of hectares of forests standing and mitigating the climate crisis – this is the call to action we are asking for.

At the COP we will present our new research The Economics of Climate Change in Indigenous Territories that argues that REDD + excludes indigenous territories with low deforestation. This study makes the case that REDD + is inequitable in “penalizing” those who have their forests intact, and will have high social, economic, cultural, and environmental cost.

Forest Trends will also participate in the following events:

Amazon Indigenous Climate Action (December 12 / 1:15 – 2:45 pm CET)

Excluding Indigenous Lands with Minimal Deforestation in REDD+: A Free-Rider Problem? (December 12 / 4:30-6:00 pm CET)

Capacity Building Program on Indigenous Territorial Governance (December 9 / 10:30-11:30 am CET)

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