Indigenous Peoples and the Amazon Forests in route to Copenhagen 2009 Their participation in building a post-Kyoto World regime

Páez-Acosta, Guayana (2009). "Indigenous Peoples and the Amazon Forests in route to Copenhagen 2009 Their participation in building a post-Kyoto World regime " Paper presented at the 6th annual conference of the HDCA, 10-12 September 2009, Lima, Peru.

Indigenous Peoples are the traditional dwellers of the Amazon territory, an ecosystem that has sustained their lives both physically and spiritually, providing shelter from wood and alimentation from fishing, hunting, and non-timber resources, and basis of their Cosmovision. Their history has been one of struggle and of socio-political, cultural and economic discrimination until not long ago. While over the last two decades Indigenous Peoples have began to see their efforts come to fruition, with their rights having experienced an unprecedented legal recognition2, theirs remain an ongoing fight for self-determination and for building a world that actively embraces ethnic and cultural diversity. By the end of 2009, the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen will set the stage for a post-Kyoto regime that will have a profound impact on Indigenous Peoples lives. An ongoing and heated debate at the core of the negotiation towards the Copenhagen conference revolves around a forest related market-based mechanism, the so-called Reduced Emissions for Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) mechanism, which if approved will commit Nations towards reducing deforestation - currently responsible for 25% of the greenhouses gasses emitted to the atmosphere - on the basis of assigning economic value to the standing forest of each Nation. To ensure sustainability of such scenario, economic benefits derived from Forests that are left standing and for which a carbon based crediting system is being discussed will have to, firstly, be able to demonstrate that in the absence of a REDD mechanisms the expected emissions will be higher than those under business as usual forests based activities and to some degree compensate for the opportunity cost of such other economic activities often purely extractive and depleting (i.e. gold-mining, large scale agribusiness, and illegal logging), and secondly, effectively be able to direct benefits towards those populations whose livelihood is dependent or somehow relate to Forest use, as their existing relationship with Forests will most likely change. Addressing key issues like who will benefit from keeping forests standing; what are the rules and mechanisms to compensate those avoiding deforestation; how and by whom can forests use be made sustainable; how and by whom reforestation efforts can be undertaken, will determine whether a market-based mechanism might be feasible or not as a response for moving forward a climate change mitigation agenda based on protecting and restoring forest.
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