Tribunal Lima 2014 / Paris 2015 / Bonn 2017

Ivonne Yanez, Acción Ecológica, introduces the case of REDD as a violation of the rights of Nature and the forests.

Cassandra Smithie presents evidence of the violations of REDD and why Indigenous peoples are saying NO to REDD.

Isis Alvarez presents case that REDD+ is per definition not the right mechanism to address the main drivers of forest loss and calls for a moratorium on the signing of contracts for REDD+ projects on behalf of not properly informed local communities.

Ruth Nyamburo presents as a witness about REDD projects in Africa among the Sengwer peoples of Kenya.

Johny Butrago presents as a witness about REDD projects in Costa Rica.

Also you can download the presentation for this case here

Informations held in the Tribunal of Lima:

REDD (Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation) is a global initiative to create a financial value for the carbon stored in native forests and tree plantations, soils and agriculture, including plankton and algae in the oceans. This involves the opening of the carbon cycling capacity of the Earth to economic valuation and trading in financial market systems. Indigenous peoples, forest dwellers, small farmers and peasants view REDD as a false solution for mitigating climate change that have resulted in land grabs, evictions and human rights abuses. REDD is inherently about commodifying and privatizing air, trees and land by selling nature and air to generate permits to pollute. These permits to pollute also known as carbon or emission credits are used by polluters to avoid reducing greenhouse gas emissions at source. This Tribunal on REDD and forests will listen to testimonies on the concern of REDD and other carbon and emissions trading and offset regimes violating the rights established in the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth.

Verdict by Tom Goldtooht:

I have listened to the interventions of this market phenomenon and a so-called solution to the climate crisis that the world is experiencing – this is called REDD (Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation). Thank you to the Presenter of this case that laid the context of how REDD violates the rights as explained in the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth. Thank you to the Experts of your expertise on this complex topic that begins to break the boundaries on how we understand the destructive effects and complex interactions of neoliberal capitalism, governance, the legal and political regimes of property rights, human rights, Indigenous peoples rights and Nature.

As a Judge of this Court, I would like to say a few words about our Indigenous cosmology related to our relationship with Nature – and my articulation of our relationship with our Mother, our Grandmother, the Earth. This regards my summary and recommendation to the Tribunal on the deliberation of REDD.

Working for environmental and economic justice is spiritual work that re-affirms our human relationship and responsibility to protect the sacredness of Mother Earth, of Nature and recognition of the indigenous concepts of Father Sky. Within this way of Life, we have Natural laws of Nature that have been developed since the beginning of time that allow us to live in harmony within the sacredness of Creation. These Natural Laws of Mother Earth and the rights of her territorial integrity are being violated.

Indigenous peoples and people of the land of the world, such as small farmers and peasants, participating in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) COP climate negotiations and other UN meetings are in the frontlines of a foreign power structure that minimizes the importance of indigenous cosmologies and worldview and land-based and fisher culture communities. These power structures reside within the UN process, the World Bank and financial institutions, and by governments systems that have economic systems that objectify, commodify and put a monetary value on land, water, forests and air that is contrary to indigenous worldview. Indigenous peoples, North and South, are forced into the world market systems with nothing to negotiate with except the natural resources relied upon for survival.

History has seen attempts to commodify land, food, labor, forests, water, genes and ideas, such as privatization of our traditional knowledge. REDD, and related regimes such as carbon trading and carbon offsets follow in the footsteps of this history that turns the functions of the forests and the sacredness of our Mother Earth’s carbon-cycling capacity into property to be bought or sold in a global market. This means any provisions of title to property by modern governmental legal regimes carries with it the legal authority to destroy the natural communities (which includes human communities and ecosystems) that depend on that property for survival.

Through this process of creating a new commodity – carbon – Mother Earth’s ability and capacity to support a climate conducive to life and human societies is now passing into the same corporate hands that are destroying the climate.

I have heard testimony that REDD and these carbon markets will not contribute to achieving protection of the Earth’s climate. It is a false solution which entrenches and magnifies social inequalities in many ways.

I heard testimony that REDD is a pillar of the so-called Green Economy that places a monetary price on Nature and creates new derivative markets that will only increase inequality and increase the destruction of Mother Earth. In my understanding, any promotion of REDD and market solutions to mitigate climate change is to put the future of Nature and humanity in the hands of financial speculative mechanisms. This includes other market systems of conservation and biodiversity offsets and payment for environmental and ecological services.

Mr. President, Judges, Prosecutor and the participants of this Tribunal, here are my conclusions:

The presentations of this Tribunal have demonstrated that REDD projects are a Nature destructive model that claims it is protecting forests. However, testimony, based upon research, has shown that it is actually a capitalist, financial mechanism set up to benefit financial institutions, including the World Bank, conservation and environment NGOs, governments and the fossil fuel industry.

Any continued implementation of REDD projects would be at the expense of the Rights to Mother Earth; expense of Nature, and expense of the human rights of communities and peoples.

I submit to this Tribunal that it reject REDD. REDD projects inherently violate the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth. In my analysis, the Rights of Nature – of Mother Earth are inherent. Nature’s rights already exist and any human law that denies those fundamental rights is illegitimate.

Article 1. (of the 2010 Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth) Just as human beings have human rights, all other beings also have rights which are specific to their species or kind and appropriate for their role and function within the communities within which they exist.

REDD projects restrict movement within and use of forested areas. REDD projects have and are causing the forced eviction of local communities. The presentation of the case of the Sengwer demonstrates that indigenous tribal peoples in Kenya are experiencing massive evictions and forced relocation is an example of this. They are one of the remaining hunter-gatherers of the world, being removed from their ancestral home.

When these governmental (REDD) restrictions are applied through these REDD projects, this violates the “role and function within the communities within which they exist.” In other words, the role and function of the area becomes relegated to a simple equation, an offset, which is neither the role nor function of the ecosystem.

Article 2. (1) Mother Earth and all beings of which she is composed have the following inherent rights: (d) the right to maintain its identity and integrity as a distinct, self-regulating and interrelated being;

There is an inseparable relationship between humans and the Earth. The Earth and Nature have inherent rights that must be recognized for the sake of our future generations and all of humanity.   Just as historically the Doctrine of Discovery was used to justify the first wave of colonialism by alleging that Indigenous peoples did not have souls, and that our territories were “terra nullius,” land of nobody, now carbon trading and REDD are inventing similarly dishonest premises to justify this new wave of colonialization and privatization of nature. Mother Earth, and her creation; of all Life, of Nature and biodiversity is the source of life which needs to be protected, of rights, not a resource to be exploited and commodified as a ‘natural capital.’

Herman Daly, the father of ecological economics, once said, “There is something fundamentally wrong in treating the Earth as if it were a business in liquidation.”

The carbon stored in Nature, in the air; in the atmosphere and in the photosynthesis processes of the forests make up a part of those beings which have rights. The carbon and the trees have a right to not be used as a commodity. This commodification is a twisted form of financializing something that cannot be monetized. It is also used to justify more pollution. It puts a price tag on Nature and Air, and violates their rights, their “identity and their integrity as a distinct, self-regulating and interrelated being.”

Just as the Indigenous peoples of Costa Rica have testified on the REDD project in the Bribri tribal Indigenous community have not been consulted and not included the implementation of a REDD project. This raises the questions of “What is the governmental mechanism that recognizes the consultation rights of Nature – of Mother Earth?”

Under paragraph L of the Universal Declaration on the Rights of Mother Earth

promote economic systems that are in harmony with Mother Earth and in accordance with the rights recognized in this Declaration.

History has witnessed the commoditization of land, food, labor, forests, water, genes and ideas and has privatized traditional knowledge. Carbon trading follows in this history by using a corrupt and unbalanced economic system that turns the sacredness of Mother Earth into a carbon-cycling machine turning out ‘property’ to be bought and sold on a global stock exchange. Through this process of creating a new commodity – carbon – Mother Earth’s capacity to support a climate conducive to life and human societies is passed onto the same corporate hands that are destroying the climate and the Earth.

Testimony had been provided charging that REDD and its implementation and operations are committing a crime against humanity and Mother Earth, resulting in Eco-cide and Terra-cide. Community representatives have asked not only for justice for their people, but justice for Mother Earth.

And, as the Indigenous leader from Accre, Brazil says, “Our Mother Earth should not be for sale!”

My recommendation to the Tribunal, is to submit this case for admission. This Tribunal would commission a process for continued study and presentation to the next Tribunal being proposed to be held in Paris 2015.

REDD has been described by the presenters in this Tribunal as the pillar of the Green Economy, and a pillar of the Financialization of Nature.

REDD requires this Tribunal to examine the link of capitalism with its legal regimes of property rights; it’s roots based upon the principles of dominion; it’s application based upon the neo-liberalization of Nature and privatization of Nature. It is a global phenomenon being forced upon communities throughout the world. REDD is a crime against humanity and Mother Earth.

I recommend to this Tribunal, to recognize the reality of criminalization and threats of harm that is being experienced by local community members who resist REDD, who try to seek credible information on all risks of REDD, and who only try to recognize the principles of Free, Prior, and Informed Consent, called FPIC. FPIC also reserves the right of communities to say no to REDD. I call upon this Tribunal, when required, to have resources that would ensure the human rights of presenters to be protected who are only exercising their free right to speak. For any governmental reprisals of witnesses coming forward to this Tribunal, this Tribunal will communicate to the UN Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders and other relevant UN and international human rights instruments and mechanisms to take appropriate action.

REDD has many implications on our duties and responsibilities as humanity to recognize the creative and life-cycles of Mother Earth – of her Nature and of Father Sky.

Scheduling and organizing regional Tribunals on REDD and carbon markets in Latin America and Africa have been talked about in the hallways of this Tribunal. This Tribunal must support the planning of these regional Tribunals that could bring their articulation and recommendations to Paris in 2015.

All My Relations, thank you.

Case Presenter Ivonne Yanez (Acción Ecológica, Ecuador)

Compensation mechanisms linked to biodiversity conservation: Genevieve Azam(Attac France), Gloria Ushigua(Sápara, Ecuador), Sengwer Indigenous representative – video – (Kenya, Africa)

EU biodiversity offsets, WRM Report on REDD+, economic valuation of nature: Jutta Kill(biologist, Germany), Gloria Ushigua(Sápara, Ecuador), Sengwer Indigenous representative – video – (Kenya, Africa)

For more visit:  Paris International Rights of Nature Tribunal

Also visit:  Paris Judges’ Statements.

Judge’s Statement: Tom Goldtooth, Indigenous Environmental Network (Turtle Island, USA)

I feel impelled to recognize life itself.  And as we know with life and you heard the expression of our indigenous presentation this morning, “life itself and to us,” in our ceremonies when we blow the whistle, it recognizes life, movement of life, sound of life.  I’m going to do that at this time [whistle blows seven times].

This tribunal has heard the detailed and moving evidence of the experts and the witnesses on this critical topic of financialization of nature, that is rapidly becoming part of the vocabulary of the nature conservation debate. It is also a main mechanism for mitigation the climate crisis of the world. Mentioned was the false solution approach of the UN COP21, where the draft mitigation plans are linked to the free market economy by carbon trading, carbon offsets, clean development mechanisms and other market mechanisms that allow polluters to profit while the impacts of climate change and the world of our farmers, our peasants, our forest-dependent communities, and indigenous peoples worsens. The tribunal has been presented evidence that these mechanisms have given way to the financialization of nature process, which separates and quantifies the earth cycles and functions such as carbon, water, florests, fauna, and biodiversity, by turning them into units, to be sold and financial in speculative markets. This tribunal has heard from a woman, representative of the indigenous peoples of the Sapara peoples of the Amazon forest ecosystem. Her testimony demonstrated how these economic system, such as REDD, and payment for environmental services, objectifies, commodifies, and puts a monetary value on land, water, forests, and air that is contrary to indigenous cosmovision and world view. History has seen many attempts to commodify land, food, labor, forests, water, genes, and ideas such as privatization of our traditional knowledge. Financialization of nature follows in the footsteps of this history and turns the sacredness of our Mother Earth’s carbon cycling and life cycling capacity into property to be bought or sold in a global market. Through this process of creating a new commodity of nature, Mother Earth’s ability and capacity to support a climate conducive to life and human societies is now passing into the same corporate hands that are destroying the climate and magnifying social inequalities in many ways. It is a violation of the sacred. Plain and simple.

The tribunal has received convincing evidence of the link of financialization of nature to the green economy, and that these combined are nothing more than the capitalism of nature. This green economy regime places a monetary price on nature and creates new derivative markets that will only increase inequality and increase the destruction of Mother Earth. We cannot put the future of nature and humanity in the hands of financial speculative mechanisms such as using the forest and agriculture as carbon offsets, called “Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD), and other mechanisms and other market systems of conservation and biodiversity offsets, including payment for environmental services.

Mother Earth is the source of life, which needs to be protected, not a resource to be exploited and commodified as a natural capital. The response to global warming is democracy for life, democracy for nature, democracy and respect for Mother Earth. We need action for humanity not to be a carbon colonist, not to be a carbon cowboy and brokers of biodiversity and conservation offsets who sell nature in a scheme that only privatizes all of life, Mother Earth including Father Sky.

The tribunal accepts the reports submitted, titled Economic Evaluation of Nature: the Price to Pay for Conservation” it accepts the report to REDD +, Stopping the Continental Grab and the REDD-ification of Africa and the other publication “REDD: A Collection of Conflicts, Contradictions and Lies and the publication report Trade and Ecosystem Services, When Payment for Environmental Services Delivers a Permit to Destroy”. All the material demonstrates beyond any doubt that the link between the violation of human rights and the violation to the Universal Declaration of Rights of Mother Earth that was developed in Cochabamba, Bolivia, April 22, 2010, exists.

In conclusion, this tribunal accepts all the expert and witness testimonies. The Tribunal on the rights of nature has a historic and urgent task to 1) apply, adapt and evolve existing legal framework, definitions, and jurisprudence on crimes, perpetrators, criminal charges, criminals, accomplices, and accessaries, identify all the perpetrators, including accomplices and accessaries of these crimes, present charges, and put them on trial — specifically on the case of financialization of nature, and REDD. The tribunal recognizes that REDD is emerging as a new form of violation of Article 1 Mother Earth and Article 2, Inherent Rights of Mother Earth, and of almost every right of Mother Earth and nature enshrined in this Universal Declaration of Rights of Mother Earth, as well as a threat to the cultural survival of the indigenous peoples and potentially genocidal and a new form of territorial expropriation and colonialism. That the health of Mother Earth is holistic and that a wound inflicted on Mother Earth cannot be compensated, it must be healed at source. That the next session of the Rights of Nature International Tribunal continue to receive evidence on the violation of the rights of nature by financialization of nature and payment for environmental services and REDD regimes with the goal of present criminal charges against the perpetrators of global warming, the fevers of Mother Earth, and put them on trial. Present criminal charges against the off-setters of emissions and put them on trial as accomplices of the perpetrators of global warming. Present charges against companies, states, entities, including the United Nations, international financial institutions, non governmental organizations, funders, and individuals that offset these emissions.

Lastly, in the future, this tribunal should evaluate presenting criminal charges against the United Nations and States for singing the Paris Accord 2015, because it may constitute a crime against humanity, Mother Earth, and Father Sky, since it will not cut emissions at source, but rather promote offsets with the variety of ecosystems in the form of these financialization of nature regimes, nuclear power, and other false solutions. Thank you.

Tribunal Video Credits:  A special thank you to Panasonic; 2nd Side Adventures, LLC; Diana Weynand, Producer, Supervising Editor; Clément Guerra, Camera; Sophie Guerra, Sound; and Editors: Sean Lea, Sachie Masuda, and Rebecca Ryden.

Informations held in the Tribunal of Bonn:

Evidence was presented that REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) framework and other carbon market frameworks and payment for ecological services have resulted in more ecological destruction and pollution and facilitated the establishment and continuation of destructive industries. Witnesses explained how systematic mechanisms, such as REDD+ were resulting in indigenous and local peoples who had not degraded their lands being disposed and losing their rights in order to enable a polluting company elsewhere in the world to continue exceeding air emission limits.

The Tribunal found that that systems such as REDD+ that commodified Nature failed to recognise the reality that human beings are an integral and inseparable part of a living Earth community and that the exploitation, commodification and financialization of Nature is detrimental to all. Those who established these systems or who traded in carbon or biodiversity “credits”, were violating the rights of Nature and failing in their duty to ensure that the pursuit of human wellbeing contributes to the wellbeing of Mother Earth.

42 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

© An initiative of the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature

  • Blanca Facebook Icono
  • Twitter Icono blanco
  • Blanco Icono de YouTube
  • Blanco Icono de Instagram