The Skywriter

Environmental justice groups question U.S. work on REDD (VIDEO)

8
Dec

Environmental justice groups question U.S. work on REDD (VIDEO)

NASA photo of deforestation in Tierras Bajas project, Bolivia

Yesterday, I sat in on a policy briefing of the U.S. government's plans on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD). The four speakers included Joe Aldy, Special Assistant to the President on the Environment, Maura O'Neill of USAID, Billy Pizer, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy at the Department of Treasury, and Patrick Smith of USAID. The speakers presented a united front about the US's REDD+ plan, focusing on how the U.S. has carved out funding for international projects but expects the private sector to contribute in a major way.

In perhaps the most spectacular bird-dogging action I have ever seen, a cohesive environmental justice front spread out across the room and asked over ten different questions about the plan. Representatives from EJCC, Energy Action, IEN, Mozambique, and Lewis and Clark Law School hammered home some key concepts. How will the U.S.REDD+ plan protect indigenous rights to land, while it focuses on negotiation with governments? How will REDD+ weigh private interests over indigenous interests, particularly when the definition of "forest" is missing from the plan, opening the door to agri-forestry on indigenous lands. And lastly, how will land grabs, like those experienced by Native American communities in the U.S., be avoided when REDD+ projects are undertaken abroad?

I checked in with Lili Molina, the EJ Director at EAC about how she thought the event went:

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