Asia has the most number of indigenous peoples, comprising two thirds of the world’s estimated 350-400 million indigenous population. An estimated 88 to 100 million indigenous peoples are found in the 10 REDD+ countries in Asia. These countries are in partnership with the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) of the World Bank, the Forest Investment Programme (FIP) and the UN-REDD as member or observer. Indigenous peoples in these REDD+ countries and elsewhere have been collectively managing their forest resources for decades, if not centuries. They have their own resource management systems based on an interdependent relationship with nature and a strong regard for the sacredness of forests as part of their cultural heritage. Indigenous peoples have relied on the bounty of the forest for their sustainable livelihoods based on the practice of conservation, simple living and cooperation.
However, most states in Asia do not recognize indigenous peoples nor their collective rights, especially to their land, territories and resources. State policies and regulations have prevented or restricted the access or use of natural resources including forest resources. In fact, most of the REDD+ countries in Asia have policies of restriction or prohibition on the practice of shifting cultivation or rotational agriculture. These policies have caused food insecurity, loss of biodiversity and traditional knowledge. With these conditions, the implementation of REDD+ has very strategic and serious impacts on indigenous peoples in these countries.
With the incentives for payment and compensation from REDD+ as a mitigation measure to combat climate change, the 10 REDD+ states in Asia have signified their commitment to conserve their forests under the REDD+ scheme. They have received funds for the readiness phase and are currently formulating their National REDD+ Strategies. However, indigenous peoples remain in the margins of processes and mechanisms relating to REDD+ at the global, national and local levels.
This report provides an overview on indigenous peoples in five REDD+ countries in Asia, namely, Indonesia, Nepal, Vietnam, Laos and Thailand and the status of REDD+ implementation in these five countries. It also elaborates on the concerns of indigenous peoples in the current readiness phase and on national REDD+ strategies and provides recommendations on ways forward for REDD+ as it relates to indigenous peoples. It is hoped that this report will contribute to the over-all efforts of indigenous peoples to be heard and for their rights and concerns to be fully taken into account in the current negotiations for a final international agreement on REDD+ and in the formulation of National REDD+ Strategies.
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