REDD+, a global framework designed to reward governments for preserving forests, has pledged nearly $10 billion to developing countries. But minorities, indigenous people, the poor, and other marginalized groups that live in forest areas often end up paying more than their fair share of the costs of environmental cleanup and conservation while getting less in return. What can be done to change this?
In an article published this month in Global Environmental Politics, I show that international interventions are likely to favor forest-dependent people only when government agencies work under stringent political oversight in the form of inter-agency checks and balances. Forest administrations that enjoy wide-ranging powers with limited checks and balances tend to share fewer benefits with forest-dependent people.
Why is this important? Beyond the ethical argument for rewarding those who bear the biggest burden, when local people do not benefit, forest conservation efforts tend to be unsustainable.
The intention is not to suggest that other factors are any less important. Indeed, as other scholars have shown, the nature of forest policy and clarity of forest property rights are also important. But while necessary, strong policies and property rights systems are insufficient to bring about progressive outcomes. More equitable disbursement of REDD+ funds and sustainable forest conservation efforts depend on the political processes that are charged with implementing policies and programs.
For the complete article, please see New Security Beat.
Globally, around 1.6 billion people depend on forests for food, water, fuel, shelter and income. Some 80 percent of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity is found in forests. At the same time, forests absorb and store significant amounts of carbon dioxide, a key greenhouse gas driving climate change.
As the World Bank moves forward with plans to pay developing countries to reduce and avoid carbon emissions by preserving forests (REDD+), advocates for local communities and indigenous groups are warning the rules developed to guide payment schemes do not do enough to protect the people who live in or use forests.
Given the lack of legal clarity over land tenure and rights in many countries, the current framework may lead to disputes over who owns the rights to the carbon stored in forests.