REDD intiatives have been decried as a form of neo-colonialism.
African participants at the World Social Forum in Tunisia have taken a historic decision to launch a No REDD in Africa Network and join the global movement against REDD.
Participants from Nigeria, South Africa, Mali, Niger, Senegal, Mozambique, Tunisia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, and Tanzania participated in the launch of the network recently.
REDD, an acronym for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation; as well as REDD+ are carbon offset mechanisms whereby industrialized Northern countries use forests, agriculture, soils and even water as sponges for their pollution instead of reducing greenhouse gas emissions at source.
The initiatives have continued to elicit severe criticisms for its ‘rampant’ land grabs and neocolonialism in Africa.
“REDD is no longer just a false solution but a new form of colonialism,” said Nnimmo Bassey, Alternative Nobel Prize Laureate and former Executive Director of ERA/Friends of the Earth Nigeria.
“In Africa, REDD+ is emerging as a new form of colonialism, economic subjugation and a driver of land grabs so massive that they may constitute a continent grab,” Mr. Bassey said.
“We launch the No REDD in Africa Network to defend the continent from carbon colonialism,” he added.
In the UN-REDD Framework Document, the United Nations itself admits that REDD could result in the “lock-up of forests,” “loss of land” and “new risks for the poor.”
Initially, REDD targeted forest conservation but its scope had expanded to include soils and agriculture.
In a teach-in session, Sunday, at the World Social Forum in Tunis, members of the La Via Campesina, the world’s largest peasant movement, said that they were concerned that REDD projects in Africa would threaten food security and could eventually cause hunger.
A recent study by the movement on the N’hambita REDD project in Mozambique found that thousands of farmers were not only paid meagre amounts to tend trees for seven years but that because the contract is for 99 years, if the farmer dies his or her children and their children must continue to tend the trees for free.
“This constitutes carbon slavery,” said the emerging No REDD in Africa Network.
The N’hambita project was celebrated by the UN on the website for the Rio+20, the Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro last year.
A New York Times report stated that over 22,000 farmers with land deeds were violently evicted for a REDD-type project in Uganda in 2011, including eight year old Friday Mukamperezida who was killed when his home was burned to the ground.
Mercia Andrews, Rural Women’s Assembly of Southern Africa, called for a solution that would neutralize the impacts of REDD in Africa.
“We as Africans need to go beyond the REDD problem to forging a solution. The last thing Africa needs is a new form of colonialism,” Ms. Andrews said.
REDD and carbon forest projects are resulting in massive evictions, servitude, slavery, persecutions, killings, and imprisonment, according to the nascent No REDD in Africa Network.
“The Global Alliance of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities on Climate Change against REDD and for Life hails the birth of the NO REDD in Africa Network,” said Tom Goldtooth, Director of the Indigenous Environmental Network.
“This signals a growing resistance against REDD throughout the world,” he said.
“We know REDD could cause genocide and we are delighted that the Africans are taking a stand to stop what could be the biggest land grab of all time,” Mr. Goldtooth added.
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