NEWS 2009

November 23, 2009

Climate mitigation measures threaten tribes

Excerpt ...

Survival International, the organisation supporting tribal peoples worldwide, has released a report today revealing attempts to prevent climate change are as - or even more - damaging to indigenous people than global warming itself. 

The report, "The most inconvenient truth of all: climate change and indigenous people", sets out four key mitigation measures that threaten tribal people: biofuels, hydro-electric power, forest conservation and carbon offsetting. In the language of the fast-approaching Copenhagen summit, they’re carbon-cutting buzzwords – automatically enshrined in a green halo. For indigenous peoples, they are devastating. 

... Likewise, an international appeal to conserve Kenya’s Mau forest, launched by Prime Minister Raila Odinga, cited as an attempt to reverse the effects of global warming, has seen him order the eviction of the Ogiek tribe. The tribe has been resident in the forest for thousands of years. According to the Survival report, Kenya’s government has repeatedly tried to evict the Ogiek in the past, usually on the misplaced pretext that they are destroying the forest. 

“This report highlights ‘the most inconvenient truth of all’ – that the world’s tribal people, who have done the least to cause climate change and are most affected by it, are now having their rights violated and land devastated in the name of attempts to stop it,” said Survival Director, Stephen Corry. 

“Hiding behind the global push to prevent climate change, governments and companies are mounting a massive land grab. As usual, where money and vast profits are at stake, the world’s indigenous people are being shamefully swept aside.”

The report calls for tribal people to be fully involved in decisions that affect them concerning climate change mitigation measures, and for their land ownership rights to be upheld.



Excerpt from the Source by Survival International ... ( Download the full version need to much of time )

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Indigenous people are on the frontline of climate change. Living in parts of the world where its impacts are greatest and depending largely, or exclusively, on the natural environment for their livelihoods, culture and lives, they are more vulnerable to climate change than anyone else on earth.

This report is published ahead of critical climate change talks to be held in Copenhagen in December 2009. The purpose of the talks, organized under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), is to finalise agreements on how to combat climate change when the current agreement, the Kyoto Protocol, runs out in 2012.

What is ‘The Most Inconvenient Truth of All’ ?

That the world’s indigenous people, who have done the least to cause climate change and are most affected by it, are now having their rights violated and land devastated in the name of attempts to stop it.

... Forest conservation: Thousands of hunter-gatherers to be expelled

An international appeal to save the Mau Forest in Kenya has been launched by Prime Minister Raila Odinga after thousands of hunter-gatherers from Kenya’s Ogiek tribe were told to abandon their homes there.

Years of illegal settlement have devastated much of the forest, a crucial source of water to millions of Kenyans. But the government’s plans for it involve evicting everyone resident there, including the Ogiek, who have lived in the forest sustainably for hundreds of years.

In its appeal to the international community for funding to save the forest, Kenya’s government is citing climate change as a key motivation. This year, Kenya has experienced devastating droughts, leading to severe power and food shortages.

‘Years of rampant excess in the global and local mismanagement of our environment have contributed to the melting of ice caps on Mt Kenya and the vast destruction of our once-beautiful forests,’ Odinga told the UN in September.

Odinga said that Kenya was acting to ‘reverse the ravages’ of global warming and cited Kenya’s efforts to save the Mau Forest as an example. ‘No agenda is as important to the country today as that of climate change. Conservation has moved to the top of our national agenda.’

Kenya has also announced its intention to plant 7.6 billion trees, some of which are destined for the Mau Forest. The carbon stored in these trees could become financially very valuable in the carbon market - while the forest’s ancestral residents, the Ogiek, go homeless.

‘Everyone has been living in fear for the last month... People are crying about the eviction. The government said it would spare no one,’ said Kiplangat Cheruyot, of the Ogiek People’s Development Program.

Kenya’s government has repeatedly tried to evict the Ogiek in the past, usually on the misplaced pretext they are destroying the forest. In late October 2009, some reports suggested the government was backing down on its intention to evict the Ogiek, in the face of widespread international condemnation. ( At the time of writing, the Ogiek’s fate remains unclear. )

Carbon offsetting:Indigenous people without rights ?

Attempts to stop deforestation have led to the proposal of various schemes known collectively as ‘Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation’ (REDD). A REDD scheme is currently being discussed by the UNFCCC, may be finalized at Copenhagen, and is expected to play a key role in the post-Kyoto agreement to fight climate change.

The basic principle of REDD is to encourage ‘developing’ countries to protect their forests by ‘developed’ countries paying them. One way of doing this is for the carbon stored in these forests to generate ‘credits’ that ‘developed’ countries can buy to offset their carbon emissions.

Indigenous people have repeatedly voiced concerns about REDD because it could place enormous monetary value on their forests and spark a land grab. A large proportion of the world’s forests, liable for inclusion in REDD schemes, are traditional indigenous territories.

‘REDD will increase the violation of our human rights, our rights to our lands, territories and resources, steal our land, cause forced evictions, prevent access and threaten indigenous agriculture practices, destroy biodiversity and culture diversity and cause social conflicts,’ said the International Forum of Indigenous Peoples on Climate Change (IFIPCC).

REDD could make it more difficult for indigenous people to have their land rights recognized, or more likely for their rights to be undermined or ignored where already recognized. If it does not lead to evictions, it may well restrict traditional use of land or access to natural resources.

It is not clear if REDD will even recognize indigenous rights. In the UNFCCC’s current draft, references to the UN’s Declaration on Indigenous Rights and indigenous peoples’ rights to free, prior and informed consent are in brackets. Whether they are included in the final text may depend on the Copenhagen summit.

‘If there is no full recognition and full protection for indigenous peoples’ rights, including the rights to resources, lands and territories, and there is no recognition and respect of our rights of free, prior and informed consent, we will oppose REDD,’ said the IFIPCC in September.

According to reports, many indigenous people have already suffered from carbon projects on their land.

These ‘voluntary’ projects, outside the UNFCCC, have led to evictions from their ancestral homes, the destruction of villages and resources, violent conflict, harassment, injuries and reports of deaths.


Where they affect indigenous peoples, measures to mitigate the impact of climate change must:

• Involve indigenous people fully and draw on their unequalled knowledge of their environments.

• recognize and respect indigenous rights as enshrined in international law (ILO Convention 169) and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, particularly their right to the ownership of their land and their right to give or withhold consent to developments in their territories.

REDD schemes could place a huge monetary value on the world’s forests and spark a land grab, leaving indigenous peoples with nothing.