Improving Substantive and Procedural Protections for Indigenous Rights in Redd+ Projects: Possible Lessons from Brazil
Nations around the world are beginning to acknowledge that climate change is an imminent threat to our planet and are responding with mitigation efforts. REDD+ (reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation plus) may be a way to minimize the deforestation that has lead to the increased greenhouse gas emissions causing a change in our global climate. Although REDD+ is one the leading proposals to address climate change, it lends itself to potentially harmful effects on indigenous people, if the regulating nation does not possess adequate policy for protections of their indigenous peoples. Indigenous peoples face the challenge of safeguarding access to their lands and the surrounding forests. In Brazil, there have been issues regarding who has property rights to the rainforest, and because of Brazil’s current legal framework, ambiguity regarding land tenure rights is the greatest obstacle to overcome when implementing successful REDD+ programs. As demonstrated in Colombia, the enumeration of specific environmental rights in their newest Constitution has effectively acknowledged indigenous rights and specific autonomy in land rights to their communities, thus requiring equal treatment and guaranteeing respect for indigenous cultures. Is constitutional recognition of indigenous peoples’ land tenure rights enough to ensure a successful implementation of REDD+ programs? If so, can Brazil effectively balance the need to implement climate change mitigation efforts while upholding indigenous people’s sacred ties to their lands? This paper examines how Brazil can prepare itself for an Indigenous REDD+ by modeling the implementation and enforcement of its current legal framework after that of Colombia.
Keywords: REDD+, indigenous rights, land grab, Brazilian Amazon, deforestation, Kayapó