Launch of No REDD in Africa Network: “REDD could cause genocide”

By Chris Lang, 3rd April 2013
Launch of No REDD in Africa Network: REDD could cause genocide

During the World Social Forum, a group of African organisations and individuals took part in the launch of a “No REDD in Africa Network”. Given the problems with the REDD mechanism, REDD-Monitor welcomes critical debate about REDD, but could REDD really cause genocide, as the press release about the launch of the No REDD Network claims?

First some background about the World Social Forum, followed by the genocide claims. The press release about the “No REDD in Africa Network” is available below in English and French (and Spanish here). The aim of this post is not to undermine this new Network in any way, rather to ask what evidence there is that REDD could cause genocide.

The World Social Forum took place in Tunis from 26-30 March 2013. About 50,000 people took part this year in what is the biggest international gathering of social movement organisations. The first WSF took place in Brazil in 2001, and it’s an alternative to the World Economic Forum held in Davos, Switzerland.

Issues discussed during the WSF this year included strategies for overthrowing the Syrian government (not everyone agreed – a rally also took place in support of President Bashar al-Assad), whether Libya was better off without Muammar Gaddafi, the “Arab Spring”, gender and the role of women, Palestine liberation, and criticism of capitalism and imperialism. Also discussed were climate change, with REDD forming part of the debate.

Pablo Solón, Executive Director of Focus on the Global South wrote a piece before the WSF started in which he argues that “There is no single answer, no single campaign nor single approach,” to address the climate crisis. Instead, a series of actions that are necessary, including leaving fossil fuels in the ground, supporting “small, local, peasant and indigenous community farming”, promoting local consumption and production of goods, stopping extractive industries, increasing public transport, and promoting peace and “dismantling the military and war industry and infrastructure”.

Solón has no time for REDD or the “green economy”:

We need to end the arrogance of man that he can control nature and solve the climate crisis with techno-fixes. Carbon markets, the monetary valuing of nature, “REDD”, “Green economy”, GMOs, agro-fuels, synthetic biology, nuclear projects, geo-engineering are all false solutions because they reinforce the misguided belief that humans can control nature through technology. It is also based on the false premise that the capitalist system and free market can solve the climate crisis that it has created by putting a price and commodifying the functions of nature. Instead of recognizing the limits of man and markets, they encourage suicidal technologies and promote new speculative derivative markets on nature.

In a similar tone, a Declaration produced at the WSF and released on 29 March 2013, states:

We denounce “green economy” and refuse false solutions to the climate crisis such as biofuels, genetically modified organisms and mechanisms of the carbon market like REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation), which ensnare impoverished peoples with false promises of progress while privatizing and commodifying the forests and territories where these peoples have been living for thousands of years.

Also on 29 March 2013, a group of Africans from Nigeria, South Africa, Mali, Niger, Senegal, Mozambique, Tunisia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya and Tanzania took part in the launch of a “No REDD in Africa Network”. In a press release posted on Environmental Rights Action’s website, Nnimmo Bassey, chair of Friends of the Earth International, says that the Network aims “to defend the continent from carbon colonialism”.

Tom Goldtooth, director of US-based Indigenous Environmental Network, was also in Tunis. He spoke to journalist Jordan Flaherty, explaining that IEN is taking part in the WSG in Tunis,

seeking to raise awareness about REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation), a United Nations program promoted as an environmental protection strategy that Goldtooth calls “genocidal” because it promotes solutions like carbon trading that he says will lead to mass deaths of poor people due to environmental catastrophe brought about by climate change.

This isn’t the first time that Goldtooth has described REDD as genocidal (herehere and here, for example). And in the press release about the No REDD in Africa Network Goldtooth states:

“We know REDD could cause genocide and we are delighted that the Africans are taking a stand to stop what could be the biggest land grab of all time.”

I’ve met Tom Goldtooth twice, first in Durban in 2004 during the meeting that established theDurban Group for Climate Justice and again during COP 14 in Poznan (where I interviewedhim). I have a huge amount of respect for Goldtooth and IEN‘s work.

Genocide is a very serious accusation. It is also a very specific one. Before 1944, the term did not exist. It was created by a Polish lawyer called Raphael Lemkin, from the Greek word for race or tribe (geno-), and the Latin word for killing (-cide). In 1948, the United Nations approved the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, which defines genocide as follows:

genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

      (a) Killing members of the group;
      (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
      (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
      (d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
    (e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

Does this definition apply to REDD? Potentially, it does. REDD could involve a vast area of land (theoretically covering the area of forest land – including large areas of agricultural land – in the global south). The rights to the use of that land could be taken away from Indigenous Peoples who depend on their forests for their livelihoods. Destroying livelihoods on this scalecould conform to the parts (a), (b), and (c) of the definition of genocide, above.

Several problematic REDD projects have started up in Africa, such as Olam International’sventure in the Republic of Congo or Ecosystem Restoration Associates’ project in the Democratic Republic of Congo. There are problems of carbon cowboyscarbon trading fraudand corruption in several African countries.

REDD proponents may respond that there are safeguards in place to protect Indigenous Peoples’ rights. But as the evictions that took place to establish the New Forests Company’s tree planting project in Uganda illustrate, safeguards can easily be ignored. This project is not a REDD project. Neither is the Laikipia National Park project in Kenya, run by the African Wildlife Foundation and The Nature Conservancy. But in both cases the similarities with REDD projects are obvious.

REDD-Monitor looks forward to hearing your views. Could REDD cause genocide?

Africans Unite against New Form of Colonialism: No REDD Network Born

March 29, 2013

Outraged by the rampant land grabs and neocolonialism of REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest degradation), Africans at the World Social Forum in Tunisia took the historic decision to launch the No REDD in Africa Network and join the global movement against REDD.

REDD+ is a carbon offset mechanism whereby industrialized Northern countries use forests, agriculture, soils and even water as sponges for their pollution instead of reducing greenhouse gas emissions at source.

“REDD is no longer just a false solution but a new form of colonialism,” denounced Nnimmo Bassey, Alternative Nobel Prize Laureate, former Executive Director of ERA/Friends of the Earth Nigeria. “In Africa, REDD+ is emerging as a new form of colonialism, economic subjugation and a driver of land grabs so massive that they may constitute a continent grab. We launch the No REDD in Africa Network to defend the continent from carbon colonialism.”

In the UN-REDD Framework Document, the United Nations itself admits that REDD could result in the “lock-up of forests,” “loss of land” and “new risks for the poor.”

REDD originally just included forests but its scope has been expanded to include soils and agriculture. In a teach-in session yesterday at the World Social Forum Tunis, members of the La Via Campesina, the world’s largest peasant movement, were concerned that REDD projects in Africa would threaten food security and could eventually cause hunger.

A recent Via Campesina study on the N’hambita REDD project in Mozambique found that thousands of farmers were paid meager amounts for seven years for tending trees, but that because the contract is for 99 years, if the farmer dies his or her children and their children must tend the trees for free. “This constitutes carbon slavery,” denounced the emerging No REDD in Africa Network. The N’hambita project was celebrated by the UN on the website for Rio+20, the Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro last year.

Mercia Andrews, Rural Women’s Assembly of Southern Africa urged “We as Africans need to go beyond the REDD problem to forging a solution.The last thing Africa needs is a new form of colonialism.”

Africans from Nigeria, South Africa, Mali, Niger, Senegal, Mozambique, Tunisia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya and Tanzania participated in the launch of the No REDD in Africa Network.

According the The New York Times, over 22,000 farmers with land deeds were violently evicted for a REDD-type project in Uganda in 2011 and Friday Mukamperezida, an eight-year-old boy was killed when his home was burned to the ground.

REDD and carbon forest projects are resulting in massive evictions, servitude, slavery, persecutions, killings, and imprisonment, according to the nascent No REDD in Africa Network.

“The Global Alliance of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities on Climate Change against REDD and for Life hails the birth of the NO REDD in Africa Network. This signals a growing resistance against REDD throughout the world,” Tom Goldtooth, Director of the Indigenous Environmental Network. “We know REDD could cause genocide and we are delighted that the Africans are taking a stand to stop what could be the biggest land grab of all time.”

Contact: Nnimmo Bassey

Union des africains contre la nouvelle forme de colonialisme:
Né le nouveau réseau contre REDD

29 mars 2013

Indignées par les accaparements de terres rampantes et le néocolonialisme de REDD (Réduction des émissions dues la déforestation et de la dégradation des forêts), les Africains lors du Forum Social Mondial en Tunisie ont pris la décision historique d’instaurer le Réseau contre REDD en Afrique de rejoindre le mouvement mondial contre REDD.

REDD+ est un mécanisme de compensation de carbone par lequel les pays industrialisés du Nord utilisent les forêts, l’agriculture, les sols et même de l’eau comme des éponges pour leur pollution au lieu de réduire à la source les émissions de gaz à effet de serre.

«REDD n’est plus seulement une fausse solution, mais une nouvelle forme de colonialisme», a dénoncé Nnimmo Bassey, lauréat du Prix Nobel Alternatif, directeur exécutif de l’ERA/Les Amis de la Terre Nigeria. «En Afrique, REDD+ est en train de devenir une nouvelle forme de colonialisme, la domination économique et un moteur d’accaparement des terres si massives qu’elles peuvent constituer un vol de tout le continent. Nous avons lancé le Réseau contre REDD en Afrique pour défendre le continent contre le colonialisme du carbone.”

Dans le document-cadre de l’ONU-REDD, l’Organisation des Nations Unies elle-même admet que REDD pourrait entraîner la «clôture des forêts», «perte de terres» et «nouveaux risques pour les pauvres. »

REDD à l’origine juste compris les forêts, mais sa portée a été élargie pour inclure les sols et l’agriculture. Dans la séance d’hier au Forum social mondial en Tunisie, les membres de la Via Campesina, mouvement mondial des paysans, craignent que les projets REDD en Afrique mettent en péril la sécurité alimentaire et pourraient éventuellement causer la famine.

Une récente étude de Via Campesina sur le projet N’hambita REDD au Mozambique a révélé que des milliers d’agriculteurs ont payé des montants maigres pendant sept ans pour entretien des arbres, mais parce que le contrat est de 99 ans, si l’agriculteur décède, ses enfants et de leurs enfants doivent s’occuper des arbres gratuitement. “Ceci constitue l’esclavage de carbone”, a dénoncé l’émergent Réseau contre REDD en Afrique. Le projet N’hambita a été célébrée par l’ONU sur le site Web de Rio +20, le Sommet de la Terre tenu à Rio de Janeiro l’année dernière.

Mercia Andrews de l’Assemblée des femmes rurales de l’Afrique australe a exhorté «Nous, les Africains nous devons aller au-delà du problème REDD à forger une solution. La dernière chose dont l’Afrique a besoin est une nouvelle forme de colonialisme.”

Africains en provenance du Nigeria, l’Afrique du Sud, le Mali, le Niger, le Sénégal, le Mozambique, la Tunisie, la République Démocratique du Congo, le Kenya et la Tanzanie ont participé au lancement du Réseau contre REDD en Afrique.

Selon le journal The New York Times, plus de 22.000 agriculteurs avec des titres fonciers ont été violemment expulsés d’un projet REDD type en Ouganda en 2011 et Friday Mukamperezida, un garçon de huit ans, a été tué lorsque sa maison a été brûlée.

REDD et les projets de carbone forestier se traduisent par des expulsions massives, la servitude, l’esclavage, les persécutions, les meurtres et à l’emprisonnement, selon le nouveau Réseau contre REDD en Afrique.

“L’Alliance mondiale des peuples autochtones et des communautés locales sur les changements climatiques contre REDD et pour la vie salue la naissance du Réseau contre REDD en Afrique. Cela indique une résistance croissante contre REDD dans le monde entier, “Tom Goldtooth, directeur du Indigenous Environmental Network. «Nous savons que REDD pourrait provoquer un génocide et nous sommes ravis que les Africains prennent position pour arrêter ce qui pourrait être la plus forte accaparement de terres de tous les temps.”

Contact: Nnimmo Bassey


One comment

  1. Pingback: REDD+ reveals the economic value of tree-based ecosystems | The Rainforests

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