Thursday, December 13, 2007

Indigenous Peoples Denounce the New Forest Carbon Partnership Facility

The World Bank can’t get a break. Despite every attempt to clothe their profit-oriented, short-sighted projects in the guise of “climate-friendly” programs, global civil society has been watching and has called them out on every turn. Yesterday, World Bank President Robert Zoellick—who you may also remember at the former US Trade Representative—held a press conference to announce the launch of the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility. Meanwhile, NGOs and Indigenous Peoples’ organizations gathered outside to stage a protest of this initiative.

It’s bad enough that the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility is just carbon trading by another name, which does more to increase the profits of polluting companies than to reduce carbon emissions. But these projects actually threaten to worsen climate change, by focusing on mono-culture tree plantations instead of preserving the biodiversity of existing forests. You can read more of our analysis on this particular approach to reducing deforestation here and here.

Even while paying lip service to the principle of free, prior, and informed consent protected by the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, in practice the World Bank has trampled this standard. When Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, the Chair of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, asked the World Bank why it had failed to consult with the Indigenous Peoples’ Caucus on its proposed Forest Carbon Partnership Facility, their answer was revealing. She was told point-blank that the project was “too abstract for Indigenous Peoples to understand.”

Only after this appalling rationale was exposed did the World Bank agree to hold consultations with the Indigenous Peoples’ Caucus. But this tendency has been consistent in the larger proceedings of the Bali climate change conference. A civil society statement rejecting the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility can be found here.

In other news today, the negotiations in Bali shifted into high gear over whether to include mandatory emissions targets—a measure opposed by such big polluters as the US, Canada, China, and Japan—and with the end of the conference on Friday fast approaching. The draft text for the meeting currently references emissions reductions of 25%-40%, and even this weak “non-binding” language has sufficiently raised the hackles of US delegates to prompt an absolute rejection.

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