Building and Wood
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There is broad agreement among actors in forest sector that sustainable and just REDD policies incentives must fulfill criteria for effectiveness, efficiency and fairness. To be effective and fair, REDD policies at all levels must address human rights, including the rights of indigenous peoples and respect the principle of free, prior and informed consent. To be effective it must also be able to deliver local benefits based on good governance reforms, land and resource tenure. Policies must be based on transparency, equitable benefit sharing, biodiversity protection, maintenance of ecosystem integrity and accountability to the public, forest-dependent communities including forest workers. Policies must also tackle the underlying causes of deforestation, monitor social and governance performance, and promote legal reforms in the forest sector and related sectors. With these preconditions and with genuine commitment to forest policy reforms, there is a possibility that REDD+ could deliver local and global benefits and empower forest peoples.
Mere reference to social groups like indigenous peoples and local communities will not be sufficient. An acceptable International forest and climate regime must contain effective commitments and safeguards on rights, equity and governance issues. With more forest management moving towards community based initiatives in parts of Africa, in a period marked with unpredictable and rising world food prices, there will be need to support secure tenure measures and provide assistance to equip communities to protect their forests which in the long run will be much more effective, just and cheaper option than the ongoing trend of compensating Multinationals (MNCs). Narrow monetary compensation for foregoing use of forestland and resources is never likely to fully compensate for loss of food security, social and cultural integrity which so far cannot even be valued in monetary sense.
The failure of not addressing causes related to International trade and global consumption of forest products along the production chain is worrying. There is need to shift from the business as usual approach by increasingly addressing inequalities in land and resource tenure, discrimination, over-consumption and uncontrolled industrialization (exploitation) while tackling the underlying causes of deforestation. Efforts need to be paid to underlying causes rather than addressing symptoms of deforestations which have seen increase in focus in addressing “makeup” such as prominence in setting up carbon forests.
There is also risk that without careful measures to ensure equitable and “sustainable” benefits in rural areas, REDD payments might create rifts between those communities including workers or households receiving payments and those that are excluded, which may include those without formal legal title to their lands and landless people. In other words, REDD compensation might increase inequality in rural forest areas and risk creating intra and inter-community conflicts. Various studies indicate that forest law enforcement initiatives have a tendency to target communities and poor people (including forest workers), while disregarding larger commercial interests involved in harmful or illegal extraction.
Today the forest worker is more endangered than even the rare indigenous species as the auctioning of forest blocks as commodity continues without paying much needed attention to the social safeguards. Does the REDD+ policies so far formulated provide different and more socially acceptable path?