A Critical Assessment Of The Forest Carbon Partnership Facility
In December 2007 the World Bank launched its Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) to act as a catalyst to promote public and private investment in ‘REDD’ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation). As the FCPF completed its first year of activities in 2008, FERN and FPP undertook a critical review of the REDD concept notes presented to the FCPF by tropical forest countries. Our review, ‘Cutting Corners’, concluded that the process had been rushed, with little to no consultation with indigenous peoples, local communities or civil society organisations, and failed to meet the Bank’s own standards.
This report presents findings of a follow-up review. We have found that the FCPF is still failing to fulfil its social and environmental commitments, while national REDD Readiness Preparation Proposals (R-PPs) lack sufficient plans for policy and legal reforms that would uphold forest peoples’ rights, improve forest governance and reduce deforestation.
What we see emerging is a game of ‘smoke and mirrors’, with the World Bank and recipient governments seemingly colluding with each other to mask defects in FCPF operations and related REDD country planning. FCPF public statements, policies and guidance notes pay lip service to forest peoples’ rights and local benefit sharing, yet there appears to be no real intention to put these principles into action. The R-PPs analysed lack effective measures to clarify and strengthen land tenure rights, do not support free, prior and informed consent (FPIC), and side-step much-needed legal and policy reforms.
Based on a critical review of FCPF documents and analyses of eight of the fifteen national R-PPs, submitted to the FCPF as of January 2011, the key findings of this review are:
- It is unclear whether specific FCPF safeguard measures are mandatory requirements or are optional at different stages of the REDD process. Rather than strengthening and implementing the Bank’s safeguards, the FCPF has created a dense set of guidelines that appear to water down existing policies and obfuscate minimum standards.
- R-PPs do not contain concrete proposals to address land conflicts and outstanding land claims, and overlook serious weaknesses in national legal frameworks, especially relating to respect for customary rights, FPIC and related land demarcation and titling procedures.
- Most R-PPs rely on biased analyses of the causes of deforestation that blame indigenous peoples and local communities for forest loss and damage, without justification.
- National consultations on draft R-PPs have been either non-existent or inadequate, and core observations and proposals of forest peoples are being disregarded or only given superficial treatment, in particular recommendations relating to land and territorial rights.
- All the R-PPs reaffirm state ownership over forest lands and most focus on valuation and monitoring of forest carbon to the exclusion of livelihood, biodiversity and cultural values.
- Though R-PPs acknowledge the need for governance reforms, most confine this to the establishment of new government institutions to oversee REDD and related forest and climate programmes.
In contrast to the confused and superficial attention given to environmental and social safeguards, the proposals for Monitoring, Reporting and Verification (MRV) of carbon are well developed and well budgeted for in all R-PPs reviewed. This narrow focus on carbon measurement and monitoring means that the R-PPs reviewed lack a detailed analysis of the drivers of deforestation and governance failures, and don’t address key rights and livelihood issues that should be dealt with in forest and climate initiatives.
This review concludes that with key causes of forest loss not being sufficiently addressed, failing consultation processes, a focus on measuring carbon at the cost of improving governance and a ‘race to the bottom’ in terms of safeguards, it is difficult to see how the national plans emerging from the FCPF funded R-PPs will contribute to reducing forest loss and ensuring respect for human rights. The current FCPF approach carries a real risk of fuelling and exacerbating conflicts.
Not only is the FCPF still ‘cutting corners’, it is now playing a game of ‘smoke and mirrors’ to distract attention from unresolved safeguard issues. At the same time the FCPF is moving ahead to create a global market in forest carbon credits, before governments have made such a decision and despite growing doubts about the risks to forests and peoples of such a market and the failures of carbon trading in general.
This report recommends refocusing the debate on action to reduce forest loss, by moving beyond monitoring carbon to monitoring improvements in forest governance and recognition of tenure rights. The report calls on the FCPF to adopt and implement principles, criteria and safeguards based on the highest standards contained in international instruments on indigenous peoples’ rights as enshrined in the UNDRIP and related human rights and environmental treaties.
Download the entire report here (.pdf).