BENEFITING: RAINFOREST FOUNDATION INC
We are helping train and prepare indigenous leaders to advocate for their rights in climate change initiatives.
Location: Guyana (Guyana is located in northern South America, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean, Venezuela, Brazil, and Suriname).
Partner: Amerindian Peoples Association (APA)
Why this project is important:
Climate change is the biggest threat we face today. Ending the destruction of tropical forests can be part of the solution. Because many of the initiatives designed to prevent deforestation – like REDD – will impact indigenous lands, it is imperative that indigenous peoples’ rights be respected. Climate initiatives are moving very quickly in Guyana, and through this program RF-US strives to ensure that indigenous peoples have an active say in the process.
Programs for reduced emissions from deforestation and forest degradation – known as REDD – are intended to help avert rainforest destruction and provide social and economic benefits to forest peoples. Depending on how REDD initiatives are carried out, however, they also risk establishing top-down models for forest protection, leading to land grabs and unfair distribution of benefits.
Approximately 75% of the interior of Guyana is covered in tropical rainforests, and deforestation rates have historically been low despite the granting of logging and mining concessions over the past two decades. As such, it is a prime candidate for REDD programs. Indeed, Guyana is one of the two countries in South America included in the World Bank's REDD program, and has secured funding from the Norwegian government for its Low Carbon Development Strategy.
With a great majority of the country's population located on the coast, Guyana’s interior is inhabited almost exclusively by 69,000 indigenous people. They live for the most part according to their traditional ways, which have protected the forest for generations. Within the context of REDD, forested lands in Guyana could attract significant funding. Indigenous peoples are therefore concerned that their ownership of these areas will be contested. The REDD process has been moving extremely quickly, and indigenous peoples are facing pressure to participate in these initiatives without adequate consultation or access to sufficient independent information.
What we’re doing:
This initiative, led by our local partner the APA, seeks to provide communities with independent and balanced information, and promote their inclusion in future decisions regarding climate change programs in Guyana. This will take place through a series of workshops, and advocacy at the national and international levels.
Did you know?
•REDD stands for “reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation”
•A recent study by Rights & Resources Initiative found that the potential for profits from REDD could lead to increased conflicts over forest resources between investors on the one hand, and local actors on the other.
•In order for REDD projects to effectively halt deforestation while supporting forest peoples’ rights, they must be transparent, participatory, and based on the free, prior and informed consent of the communities whose lands and resources would be affected.