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Press Release: Indigenous Leaders Alert the UNFCCC and the World to the Imminent Threat that REDD Poses to their Territories and Livelihoods

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Durban, South Africa (IPCCA). As the UNFCCC COP 17 opens in Durban, South Africa, a gathering of indigenous leaders from around the world discussing biocultural protocols and REDD warns the UNFCCC and the international community of the grave danger that REDD and market based solutions to climate change mitigation pose to their cultures, territories and livelihoods.

“For my people, the forest is sacred, it is life in all its essence, we can protect Pachamama only if this is respected. REDD and other market mechanisms have turned our relationship with forests into a business. As we are targeted, this is not only a new form of climate racism but also represents a false solution which undermines the climate regime” said Marlon Santi, a leader of the Sarayaku Quichua community of Ecuador.

The IPCCA leaders discussed their experiences with using a biocultural approach to assessing climate change impacts as well as the impacts on their livelihoods and the ecosystems found in their territories in order to develop appropriate responses. In forest ecosystems, impacts of REDD and market based mechanisms were analysed from diverse local contexts such as the Indian Adivasi and the Sapara Nationality of Ecuador to build a common understanding:

  • They commodify life and undermine holistic community values and governance
  • They block community access to forests and customary use
  • They lead to establishment of monoculture tree plantations which promote land grabbing
  • They are portrayed as vehicles for strengthening land tenure rights but in fact are used to weaken them
  • They are used to justify continued emissions in the North and thus are hypocritical false solutions to the climate crisis

“IPCCA is an example of how indigenous communities are undertaking climate change assessments on their own terms, and are illustrating the danger of market based mitigation mechanisms. Our knowledge systems and our distinctive spiritual relationship to our territories can contribute to a deeper, localized and holistic understanding of what we and the world is facing” said Alejandro Argumedo, coordinator of IPCCA. “Solutions that will indeed reduce emissions and ensure local livelihoods must come from including such local analysis.” The IPCCA network is building alliances with organizations such as the Global Forest Coallition to bring much needed indigenous and local voices to forums as the UNFCCC COP 17.

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UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: the real work continues!

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About a month ago the global indigenous peoples’ struggle reached a milestone.

Here are some comments and resources collected and followed by a brief reflection.

First from Resistance Studies:

“The United Nations have overwhelmingly approved the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: after over a decade of negotiations, and a year of Canada trying to stall the final vote on it in the General Assembly” says Nicole Scabus, the International Advisor of the Indigenous Network on Economies and Trade.

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Protecting Community Rights over Traditional Knowledge.

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Although the funders of the International Institute for Environment and Development clearly are of the higher echelons of the established society they promote community rights over, essentially, intellectual property rights (a distracting debate around traditional knowledge being protected by private property rights based systems – obviously utter nonsense) in order to “protect” indigenous ways of being and living; which is a good thing – since there are other ways to live than the liberal-conservative order of things.

This page gives a good introduction that concludes:

We are therefore focusing our research and policy work on the concept of ‘Collective Bio-Cultural Heritage’. This concept, initially developed by ANDES, Peru, recognises the interlinked nature of traditional knowledge, biodiversity, landscapes, culture and customary laws.”

Private property rights cannot save communities – community rights (with added self-determination and autonomy) can (hopefully) save communities, it can’t be that difficult to see, init?!?

Parque de la Papa


The foto shows a gathering above 4000m for a ritual (Febr. 07) to solidify the bonds between the communities in the Parque de la Papa, Pisaq, Cusco, Peru – an amazing place and project where theory and practive of public policy making, autonomy and self-legislation come together. They have 1016 species of potatoes growing there!