Sunday, March 20, 2011

REDD/FCPF Moving in Too Many Directions?

In a new report on the World Bank's Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF), FERN and the Forest Peoples Programme sharply criticize the body on procedural grounds, arguing that FCPF is typified by rushed decision-making, non-inclusiveness, and an excessively narrow focus on carbon stocks and sinks. FCPF is part of the burgeoning Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD, a potential vehicle for reforestation/afforestation projects) architecture under the umbrella of the UNFCCC. The role of FCPF is to assist readiness activities among REDD member states and support a future forest carbon credit trading system.

The report's authors assail the Facility on multiple fronts, including:
  • FCPF fails to recognize the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities, in particular land tenure and resource rights.
  • FCPF fails to incorporate the views of local people, in particular by failing to utilize proper consultation mechanisms.
  • FCPF processes tend to blame indigenous peoples and forest communities for deforestation.
  • FCPF has not developed appropriate benefit-sharing arrangements.
These criticisms are legitimate, but they point to a potential quandary for REDD institutions: different stakeholders ascribe different goals to REDD, and some goals may be partially incompatible. From the perspective of climate change and the UNFCCC, the purpose of REDD is to cut carbon emissions resulting from tropical deforestation. From the perspective of the development community, REDD and FCPF should work to promote the sustainable development of forest communities. For conservationists, the goal of REDD is to protect the remarkable biodiversity of forest ecosystems. And for some in the geoengineering community, REDD should serve as a means to enhance forest carbon stocks, through conservation, reforestation, or afforestation.

Enhancing the role of forests as carbon sinks may entail reductions in biodiversity. Sustainable development may enlarge the carbon footprints of forest communities and indigenous peoples. FERN and the Forest Peoples Programme attribute the problems of the FCPF to "the combined pressure of REDD countries, that resist stringent environmental and social standards, and key donors, that want quick disbursement of funds" (p. 32). With REDD pulled in many directions at the same time, none of the goals favored by its supporters may be achieved, and deforestation may continue as before.

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