REDD Blueprint: “Guns and Guards”

The eyes of many indigenous communities are on the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Cancún, particularly on an emerging definition of a climate plan called REDD (“Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation”).

Despite more than two years of lobbying by forest inhabitants and their advocates around the world, the UNFCCC’s Cancún draft still contains no wording to prevent REDD from using the “fortress conservation” regimes favored by the large NGOs, says John Nelson, an Africa policy advisor for the advocacy group Forest Peoples Programme.

“I’m quite alarmed by REDD,” he says, claiming that its projects would likely adopt the common practice of fencing out inhabitants. “We’re not against conservation. Neither are the locals; they need the forest. But conservation should work with communities, and the old model of conservation hasn’t done so, despite principles and guidelines. REDD is an expansion of the same old model. It’s still based on guns and guards.”

Pointing to emission-offsetting projects that have restricted and displaced hundreds of thousands of forest inhabitants worldwide, critics say that the Cancún language has no safeguards against those guns and guards.


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More than forty years in U.S., UK, and South African media gives David Max Braun global perspective and experience across multiple storytelling platforms. His coverage of science, nature, politics, and technology has been published/broadcast by the BBC, CNN, NPR, AP, UPI, National Geographic, TechWeb, De Telegraaf, Travel World, and Argus South African Newspapers. He has published two books and won several journalism awards. In his 22-year career at National Geographic he was VP and editor in chief of National Geographic Digital Media, and the founding editor of the National Geographic Society blog, hosting a global discussion on issues resonating with the Society's mission and initiatives. He also directed the Society side of the Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship, awarded to Americans seeking the opportunity to spend nine months abroad, engaging local communities and sharing stories from the field with a global audience. A regular expert on National Geographic Expeditions, David also lectures on storytelling for impact. He has 120,000 followers on social media: Facebook  Twitter  LinkedIn