ASEAN, Climate Change, REDD+ and Indigenous Peoples
Many Indigenous Peoples fear that the implementation of REDD+ may have the same impacts to them as the imposition of conservation areas such as national parks. They are apprehensive about implementing REDD+ because such imposition has led to conflicts, physical and economic displacements, food insecurity and loss of income, and loss of biodiversity and traditional knowledge due to prohibitions of their traditional livelihoods, resettlement or eviction.
On the other hand, independent studies have shown that biodiversity and forest conservation in genuine partnerships and under co-management arrangements with Indigenous Peoples have been more successful and are mutually beneficial.
These partnerships are based on the respect of Indigenous Peoples’ rights, needs and concerns. Another key lesson learned over the past decades of experiences with biodiversity and forest conservation is that community forest management and conservation are more sustainable and benefits are more equitable if community land rights are recognized and protected.
These are important findings which must be taken into account in the development of National REDD+ Strategies. REDD+ offers opportunities for scaling up community forestry through policy, legal, and institutional reforms that strengthen the protection of land and forest rights of indigenous and other forest communities. It also enables capacity building of the respective support structure within the responsible government agencies. Therefore, it has been widely recognized that the ASEAN, above all through the ASFN, should actively promote and support the application of a community-based approach and the social and environmental safeguards currently being developed in national REDD+ strategies among its member states.
Indigenous Peoples and their organisations in particular recommend that in its engagement with REDD+ the ASEAN should promote:
- The recognition of the right of indigenous communities to Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC)
- The recognition and protection of the rights of indigenous and other forest communities to their land and forests
- The full and effective participation of indigenous and other forest communities, and their representative organizations, in REDD+ at all stages and at all levels, as well as forest management planning and decision making
- To ensure that fair and equitable benefit sharing mechanisms are established under REDD+ that reward indigenous and other forest communities for forest protection, and compensate them for lost revenues from alternative land uses; and that they have the freedom to collectively decide on the form and terms of benefit sharing.
With respect to the ASEAN’s engagement in climate change, Indigenous Peoples of the region made the following recommendation to the ASEAN:
- To establish a mechanism for sustained consultation and engagement of Indigenous Peoples and civil society organizations in processes relating to climate change that is transparent and inclusive
- To abide by its international obligations and commitments with regard to the respect for the rights on Indigenous Peoples
- To ensure the full and effective participation of Indigenous Peoples in development of measures and programmes relating to climate change mitigation and adaptation
- To facilitate and provide funds and appropriate resources to support the initiatives of Indigenous Peoples on climate change adaptation and mitigation
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