Ms. Simona Gómez Lopez. Representative of the Indigenous peoples of Mexico. (Source: UNFCCC)

Article by: Ruth Brandt

The first week of the COP16 has come and gone, with barely a mention of REDD+ in the official negotiations. Some delegates attribute this to the fact that the REDD+ negotiating text is one of the more advanced ones, and that negotiators either want to bring other texts to a comparable level or just rather not open a nearly completed text to further negotiations.

A very different trend can be seen in the unofficial dealings – REDD-related side events abound, including a whole day dedicated to forests and climate change, and several reports dealing with various aspects of the REDD mechanism have been launched during the past week.

One issue that has been on the rise is the affect of the final structure of any REDD+ agreement on indigenous people. Before the beginning of the talks in Cancun the Bolivian ambassador to the UN, Pablo Solon, condemned the REDD mechanism saying that “”Now they want to put a value on nature … this is what got us here in the first place”. A concern over the REDD mechanism however has long been voiced by grassroots organisations, who are not as easily accused of trying to throw a spoke in the climate talks wheels as representatives of the Bolivian government can be.

These concerns have, in the past week, made it into the official talks – in the opening session of the COP, Adelfo Regino Montes from Mexico spoke on behalf of the International Indigenous Peoples Forum on Climate Change (IIPFCC) saying that market based mitigation strategies, including REDD, threaten the rights of local communities, such as the right to free, prior and informed consent (FPIC).

However, as the actual negotiations on the REDD+ framework have yet to start in earnest, it is too soon to say whether stronger safeguards to protect the rights of local communities will indeed be incorporated into any agreement, or even whether their role in protecting forests will be officially recognised at all.

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