Why EcoLogic Uses REDD+ in Partnership with Indigenous Peoples

Deforestation in HondurasSome of our colleagues and peers have valid reservations about the application of the Reduction of Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation Plus (REDD+) framework developed by the United Nations (UN) to provide economic incentives to keep forests standing. For instance, they are concerned that REDD+ ignores the interests and needs of rural and indigenous peoples, while at times even encouraging unsustainable and destructive practices.

We at EcoLogic agree that REDD+ has, at times, been applied in unproductive and damaging ways. For example, we believe it is wrong to use REDD+ when local communities don’t fully understand or consent to its application. We also believe it is wrong to use REDD+ to force indigenous communities to give up their homes, sovereignty, livelihoods, and control over their traditional lands by exploiting the precarious economic position of these communities and their unrecognized land ownership rights. Further, EcoLogic is opposed to the use of REDD+ to promote unsustainable ecological practices—such as monocultures, tree plantations, or crops such as palm oil—that provide, at best, short-term economic gain, while in the long-term destroying the natural diversity of life and the health of ecosystems. These shortsighted approaches remove any hope for a better and sustainable economic and environmental future.

Having considered the potential drawbacks, however, EcoLogic believes that when properly applied, REDD+ can be an extremely effective tool for protecting forests and providing economic opportunity for local peoples. REDD+ recognizes monetarily the stewardship role that communities can play, and it also creates a global context of responsibility for protecting ecosystems and biodiversity while fighting climate change. It also targets the protection of still-standing forest habitat in ways that promote its long-term survival and integrity.

Spotlight

Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC)

Andrea Savage at an FPIC workshop with Chol community members. In March 2013, EcoLogic’s CarbonPlus traveled to Chiapas to conduct Free, Prior and Informed Consent workshops in collaboration with local partner Na Bolom. They were joined by our community coordinator, Abelino Flores, to work with each of the three Mayan communities at our project site in Chiapas, Mexico. Read more about the FPIC workshops.

In addition, EcoLogic practices REDD+ within a larger programmatic framework of local partnerships, activities, and solutions. These are tailored to a specific community’s self-identified environmental and natural resource needs. We undertake REDD+ projects when communities ask for our involvement, taking care to include ongoing community consultations, institutional strengthening for local community organizations, and safeguards such as Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC). We receive no revenue from the sale of the carbon credits generated and thus act as an “honest broker,” ensuring that we have no conflict of interest.

EcoLogic does not take lightly the concerns of some of our peers, and we actively evaluate our REDD+ work on an ongoing basis, considering new policy developments, advancements and changes in the field, our own monitoring and evaluation work, and feedback from our local partners. Our project model incorporates the flexibility to change activities and approaches when needed, and we will make such changes up to and including the cessation of a given approach if and when we identify the need to do so. Thus, in an informed, deliberate and project-specific fashion we will continue to develop and implement REDD+ activities when we believe it is the best tool to use to effect positive long-term environmental and economic change for the rural and indigenous peoples with whom we work.

Please see our CarbonPlus program page for more information.