Forest People Left out of Amazon Fund and REDD Negotiations

Climate Forests Investments Jan 1, 2001
Bruno Calixto

Location: São Paulo – SP Source: Date: April 13, 2009 According to Amazon Working Group (Grupo de Trabalho Amazí´nico- GTA) coordinator Rubens Gomes, the people of the forests are not effectively participating in the negotiations on the mechanisms that finance forest protection such the Amazon Fund and the negotiations for including Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) in a post-Kyoto agreement.
The Amazon Fund receives donations from countries that aim toward forest maintenance and sustainable development in the Amazon. On the other hand, REDD is a market mechanism that is being negotiated among several nations which will allow countries that preserve their forests to sell credits to compensate for countries that pollute more. According to Gomes, the problem is that the peoples of the forest – especially the beneficiaries that will account for the responsibilities, are not participating in the negotiations.
“They are not taking part in the debates. The process is moving on at an alarming speed and this is something that is new. If someone is interested in strengthening the system, they need to stop and invite the bases and communities to the debate, and capacitate the social movements in their base layers. It will take a decade for the communities to learn about this, but then everything will have been allotted. It will be too late,” he adds.
The GTA coordinator believes that these initiatives will not work without the effective participation of the peoples of the forests. He states that, “If all links of this chain are not well adjusted, the process cannot be successful. Any agreement made at any level in which the community is not aware or is not part of the decision making process means that you are involving someone who is not indeed responsible for what you think he or she may be.” Gold Rush Gomes criticizes what he refers to as a “gold rush” for the financial compensation for environmental services to keep the forest standing. He comments that, “what we notice today is that the concern is not about the reduction of emissions, combating deforestation or the rights of the people of the forests. Instead it is about money. We are watching a gold rush which is quite concerning.”
Despite the criticisms, the GTA coordinator considers the existence of the Amazon Fund to be important and believes that it plays the fundamental role of acknowledging the companies and communities that are developing good work in the Amazon forest. “The Amazon Fund is a great experience and needs to be strengthened. Society needs to have social control over it,” he adds.
According to Gomes, the GTA is working on the creation of principles and criteria for these financing mechanisms – both in terms of REDD as well as the Amazon Fund. Gomes says that, “We are working on regulating this process so that it does not exclude the rights of the people of the forest and that assures those who most protect these resources that are being targeted – the forest.”
“We need to stop this absurd eco-marketing that only leads to public exposure, but whose results are negative. The financial resources are enormous and do not yield benefits to those who should receive them. There are many people making easy money on REDD, on raising funds to compensate for and mitigate deforestation and the emission of greenhouse gases,” he concludes.

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