Dec 15, 2009 News
From Neil Marks in Copenhagen
President Bharrat Jagdeo says that he is looking for a “good” Copenhagen climate deal that would involve paying countries for reducing deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) or in Guyana’s case, maintaining low rates of deforestation.
But all around the conference, there are calls for the language in the draft text to ensure governance safeguards to check against corruption to be placed back in the main text and out of the preamble.
Jagdeo has been a leading voice in the call for a REDD agreement in a new global deal to save the planet from catastrophic climate change. But groups this past week expressed concern that the draft REDD text cites poor controls on governance and protecting the rights of indigenous peoples, among other issues.
Language ensuring critical safeguards for biodiversity, forest conversion, and indigenous rights and monitoring has moved from operational text into the preamble.
“Limiting safeguards to the preamble weakens the agreement and deprives it of any assurance of compliance,” said Dr. Rosalind Reeve of Global Witness.
Despite this, Jagdeo told an event organised by a Norwegian Non-Governmental Organisation that he was “pleased with the evolution” of the REDD process.
However, he said that under the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS), which is being touted as an international model for how monies could be spent under a REDD scheme, Guyana accepts the need for financial and governance safeguards.
Placing language on safeguards in the preamble doesn’t make it operational and enforceable, said Lars Lovold, Director of the Rainforest Foundation of Norway. He shared a panel discussion with President Jagdeo and key figures in the Norwegian Government, which is giving Guyana US$250 million over the next five years to preserve the rainforest.
Also on the panel was Tasso Azevedo, a former director of forests in Brazil, who now advises that country’s Minister of Environment.
Lovold implored the governments of Guyana, Brazil and Norway to use their lobbying efforts to get safeguard language in the main text, where if an agreement comes out Copenhagen, mechanisms will be in place to monitor how national governments spend money, and other protection.
Jagdeo said that whatever agreement on REDD comes out of Copenhagen, this will supersede the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) Guyana has with Norway.
He said that the MOU takes into account the rights of indigenous people. He boasted that he had brought to Copenhagen representatives of three groups that represent the rights of indigenous peoples in Guyana. Yvonne Pearson, the chairperson of the National Toshaos Council, which represents Amerindians across the country is also in Copenhagen.
Rights groups want to ensure that whatever agreement on REDD comes out, must be legally binding.
Among those lending their voice to this call is Biancca Jagger, the former wife of rock icon Mick Jagger.
“REDD will never succeed and cannot be implemented unless the agreement contains strong provisions to ensure good governance, protect natural forests and ensure that the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities are protected. They must be at the centre of the REDD agreement and included in the negotiation,” said Jagger, chair of the Biancca Jagger Human Rights Foundation.
She laid emphasis on the fact that the removal of critical safeguards from the legally-binding text means the safeguards have no legal force and will not be acted on unless there is language in the legally-binding part of the agreement to direct governments to act.
The agreement contains some weak language at the moment and even this is in jeopardy of being deleted since several governments are opposing it. If this happens there will be no protection for rights of indigenous peoples, no protection of forests and no action on governance.
REDD funds are projected to help developing countries protect their remaining intact natural forests. Start-up costs to support capacity-building activities in REDD-eligible countries are estimated to be between US$22.4 and US$37.3 billion from 2010-15, according to the September 2009 report of the Informal Working Group on Interim Finance for REDD.
On Sunday, U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change Executive Secretary, Yvo de Boer, said that politicians at the Copenhagen talks this week will focus on big picture issues, and called on participants of a “Forest Day” activity to “safeguard the nitty gritty” and keep negotiators focused on “environmental integrity, ecological integrity and protection of the rights of the people.”
“I was very happy to hear Mr de Boer’s statement,” said Jagger. “We must be clear – climate justice is a pre-requisite to achieve an effective and ethical REDD agreement that puts people and forest first and an agreement that will help us tackle catastrophic climate.
Photo captions: jagdeo in copenhagen
President Bharrat Jagdeo and Head of the National Climate Unit Shyam Nokta share a joke before the beginning of a meeting on REDD at the UN Climate Conference in Copenhagen.
President Jagdeo addresses an event on making REDD work at the UN Climate Conference in Copenhagen.
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