Canadians Explore REDD Potential for Indigenous Groups

Climate Forests Investments Apr 19, 2011

Indigenous groups around the world stand to benefit from emerging carbon markets, but only if they have clear legal rights to carbon income and know how to harness those rights.   Two new studies highlight both the potential for gain and the lack of knowledge about how to take advantage of it.   The focus is Canada, but the lessons are universal.

19 April 2011 | Winnipeg | The International Institute for Sustainable Development has issued two reports as part of the First Nations Carbon Collaborative to help build the capacity of First Nations to take part in existing and emerging carbon markets.

The collaborative is a community-driven initiative spearheaded by IISD, the Centre for Indigenous Environmental Resources and three First Nations living within Canada’s frontier forests.

Undefined carbon rights and a lack of experience prevent First Nations from accessing carbon markets, even though many of them live within and around the boreal forest region that stores 30 per cent of the world’s carbon, according to 2007 research by Woods Hole Research Center.

The literature review indicates there is little information about First Nations in Canada and carbon markets and that this void will need to be filled before First Nations can become active carbon market participants.
The best practices review found that local ownership enhances potential carbon market benefits, well beyond job creation. The review highlights the need to establish realistic timeframes, as capacity building can take considerable resources and time to deal with such issues as governance, transmitting local and traditional knowledge, operational training, youth development and succession planning.

As an initial capacity-building activity, the University of Toronto’s Centre for Environment in cooperation with the First Nations Carbon Collaborative will be hosting a free First Nations and carbon webinar series every Wednesday from 1:00 to 2:30 p.m. (EST) beginning April 20 and ending May 25, 2011.

Webinar topics will include carbon 101, indigenous rights to carbon, emissions trading policies/legislation in Canada, carbon financing, offset projects and First Nations case study carbon projects. Assembly of First Nations Grand Chief Shawn Atleo will open the webinar series. Grand Chief Edward John, the North American representative to the United Nations Permanent Forum, will also be a guest speaker.

For more information, please contact the IISD project manager Vivek Voora, who can be reached at or (204) 958-7797, or the IISD media and communications officer Nona Pelletier, who can be reached at or (204) 958-7740.