World Bank


UN experts urge World Bank to adopt human rights standards on the eve of key gathering in Washington
OHCHR release, 18 April 2013

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND: The UN Special Rapporteurs on extreme poverty, indigenous peoples, right to food, and foreign debt called on the World Bank to adopt human rights standards during the review of its environmental and social safeguard policies which apply to project finance. The review offers an important opportunity for broadening the scope of the World Bank’s safeguard policies in key areas related to human rights such as disability, gender, labor, land tenure, and the rights of indigenous peoples. The first consultation period concluded on 21 April, and a first draft of the revised policies is expected to be released for public comment in the next few months. For the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples James Anaya “this review is an opportunity for the World Bank to heed the call of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which provides that States, intergovernmental organizations, and UN specialized agencies, including the World Bank, shall promote respect for full application and realization of, its provisions.”“World Bank financed large-scale development projects often have an impact on land used by small-scale farmers, negatively affecting their right to food,” said the Special Rapporteur on the right to food Olivier De Schutter. In his view, “the updated safeguard policies must ensure that the voice of affected communities is more effectively heard, through inclusive and participatory impact assessments and through effective accountability mechanisms that provide effective remedies for any harm caused.” Read the release …

World Bank operational policies must be in line with the United Nations Declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples
UN Special Rapporteur release, 27 March 2013

MANILA, PHILIPPINES: On 21 and 22 March 2013, the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples participated in an “Expert Focus Group Seminar on Free, Prior and Informed Consent of Indigenous Peoples” and a “High Level Meeting on Engagement and Dialogue with Indigenous Peoples”, hosted by the World Bank. The meetings, which took place in Manila, Philippines, were carried out in the context of the World Bank’s review of its environmental and social safeguard policies, including its Operational Policy 4.10 on indigenous peoples, which apply to the Bank’s lending for investments in specific projects.The Special Rapporteur emphasized that the revised policy should be consistent with rights of indigenous peoples affirmed in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. He further urged that the policies that apply to all the Bank’s financial and technical assistance, and not just its investment lending, be reviewed to ensure consistency with the Declaration. Read the release … Visit the website of the World Bank’s safeguard policies consultation process …

FCPF Reports on the Engagement of Indigenous Peoples
Climate Change Policy and Practice, 14 February 2013

WASHINGTON DC, US: The Carbon Fund of the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) held a workshop with representatives of indigenous peoples and civil society in mid-February 2013, in order to gather their views and opinions on the work of the FCPF. Topics discussed included REDD+ readiness and the development of a methodological framework for the FCPF. The workshop built on previous dialogues held in Panama, Peru, Qatar, Tanzania and Thailand. It also built on the adoption of the Action Plan, the objective of which is to ensure that FCPF activities meet the requirements set out in the Cancun agreement on REDD+ with regard to the full and effective participation of indigenous peoples and the provision of information on safeguards and monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV). The Action Plan also promotes capacity building and the allocation of adequate and dedicated resources for indigenous peoples. Over the course of the above dialogues, REDD+ discussions with indigenous peoples have evolved from concern over land rights to the full engagement of indigenous peoples in planning and decision-making within the FCPF. In support of further engagement of indigenous peoples, the World Bank, as trustee of the FCPF, has appointed a Senior Advisor for Indigenous Peoples and Ethnic Minorities, Luis Felipe Duchicela. It has also begun an indigenous peoples’ consultation process on World Bank safeguard policies and is considering the development of an Indigenous Peoples Advisory Council. Read the article … Read the World Bank blog post …

From Peru to the Philippines, UNEP Presents Grassroots Solutions to the Impacts of Climate Change
UNEP news release, 1 December 2012

DOHA, QATAR: Grassroots projects can guide the policies needed to build climate resilience, reverse the loss of natural resources and contribute to an inclusive green economy, according to a new UN Environment Programme (UNEP) booklet launched at the UN Climate Change Conference in Doha, Qatar. “Seeds of Knowledge” aims to show that grassroots, community-led responses are already playing an essential role in building resilience to climate change across all regions of the world. With the right levels of investment and support, such initiatives can be scaled up and become a central component in reducing climate risks and supporting the transition to an inclusive green economy. It features case studies from Afghanistan, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Colombia, China, Ecuador, Egypt, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Jordan, Mauritania, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Senegal and Turkey. Case studies address, among others, the radio broadcast used by indigenous communities in Peru’s southern Andean highlands. Read the release …

Food, Water and Livelihoods in Pacific Islands under Increasing Threat from Climate Change
UNEP news release, 4 December 2012

DOHA, QATAR: Island communities in the Pacific Ocean are facing unprecedented challenges to their economies and environment from the impacts of climate change, according to the “Pacific Environment and Climate Change Outlook,” prepared by SPREP in partnership with UNEP and other organizations and released at the UN Climate Change Conference in Doha. Sea level rise, tropical cyclones, floods and drought, combined with pressures from unsustainable fishing practices and coastal development, and consumption and production trends, are rendering the livelihoods of some 10 million people increasingly vulnerable. Covering 21 countries and territories, mostly small, low-lying island communities, the report provides a detailed assessment of the state of the Pacific environment, and lays out policy options for improving sustainable development in island communities. The study highlights successful efforts to create community-managed conservation areas, such as marine parks, which have used indigenous knowledge to improve recycling, energy efficiency and sustainable water use. Such techniques can be scaled up, and serve as a model for other regions. In addition, destruction of coral reefs, mangrove forests and sea grass beds as development proceeds, suggests the need for a better strategy with the involvement of local communities using their traditional knowledge and practices. Read the release … Download the report [pdf] …

Indigenous people in Colombia have a plan to protect their environment from climate change
World Bank release, 29 November 2012

PUTUMAYO, COLOMBIA: With the assistance of a grant from the World Bank’s Development Marketplace, indigenous people of the Putumayo department in Colombia elaborated five environment management plans that include studies and maps allowing them to better adapt to climate change. They developed the plans with the help of modern technology, with a research methodology, as well as the ancient knowledge of the indigenous communities. The indigenous communities themselves gathered some samples and information after being trained in the use of GPS devices and basic cartography. The finished documentation includes registers of plants, with their name and use by indigenous people, 5 ecological calendars, regulation norms and 44 maps that show where the flora and fauna can be found, where indigenous people hunt, and where their holy places are. Read the release …

Climate Conversations – Mapping a route through climate change in Chad
Giacomo Rambaldi, AlertNet, 26 November 2012

N’DJAMENA, CHAD: The M’bororo people have a deep understanding passed down through generations of their land and its climate conditions. They know how to read the signs offered by nature. Scientists, on the other hand, hold the key to interpreting the impacts of the latest research. If these two groups could come together and pool their combined expertise, perhaps the M’bororo people could maintain their traditional way of life and the scientists would gain from a more profound understanding of the areas. This was in fact the first stage in a process to address the climate change challenge and its far-reaching effects in Chad. A meeting was held in N’Djamena, Chad in November 2011, which produced the N’Djamena Declaration on traditional knowledge and climate adaptation. It was however a participatory mapping exercise in August 2012 that has had the most lasting effect on the M’bororo people, who made a significant contribution identifying six tree species protected under their customary law. These trees have both medicinal and ecosystem functions and have acted as navigation reference points over the years. Read the article …

Report of the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
Document A/67/301 (August 2012), presented to the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly on 22 October 2012

In this report, UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples James Anaya provides comments on the need to harmonize the myriad UN activities that affect indigenous peoples. Specific UN processes and programmes reviewed include those related to: UNESCO, including the World Heritage Convention and the development of a UNESCO policy on indigenous peoples; FAO, including the Voluntary Guidelines on the responsible governance of tenure of land, fisheries and forests; WIPO, including the IGC negotiations on intellectual property and genetic resources, traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions; CBD, including the Nagoya Protocol on access and benefit-sharing; UNFCCC; UNCSD; the World Bank Group, including the currently ongoing review process of all safeguard policies and the revision of the IFC performance standard on environmental and social sustainability; and REDD programmes.

The Special Rapporteur notes that the UN system has done important work to promote the rights of indigenous peoples. However, greater efforts are needed to maximize action throughout the UN system to promote the rights of indigenous peoples and to ensure that all actions within the system which affect indigenous peoples are in harmony with their rights, particularly their rights as affirmed by the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Download the report [pdf] …

It’s official – the key to conservation lies with indigenous peoples
Survival International, 10 November 2011

WASHINGTON DC,USA: Indigenous peoples are key to preserving the world’s forests, and conservation reserves that exclude them suffer as a result, according to a new study undertaken at the World Bank’s Independent Evaluation Group. The analysis used satellite data to show how deforestation plummets to its lowest levels when indigenous peoples continue living in protected areas, and are not forced out.

According to the study, in Latin America and Asia, strict protected areas (PAs) substantially reduced fire incidence, but multi-use PAs were even more effective. In Latin America, where there is data on indigenous areas, these areas reduce forest fire incidence by 16 %, over two and a half times as much as naïve (unmatched) comparison with unprotected areas would suggest. In Africa, more recently established strict PAs appear to be effective, but multi-use tropical forest protected areas yield few sample points, and their impacts are not robustly estimated. These results suggest that forest protection can contribute both to biodiversity conservation and CO2 mitigation goals, with particular relevance to the REDD agenda. Encouragingly, indigenous areas and multi-use protected areas can help to accomplish these goals, suggesting some compatibility between global environmental goals and support for local livelihoods. Read the release by Survival International … Read the study by Andrew Nelson and Kenneth M. Chomitz, Effectiveness of Strict vs. Multiple Use Protected Areas in Reducing Tropical Forest Fires: A Global Analysis Using Matching Methods, PLoS ONE 6(8): e22722.

Smoke and mirrors: A critical assessment of the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility
Kate Dooley, Tom Griffiths, Francesco Martone and Saskia Ozinga
FERN and Forest Peoples Programme (February 2011) | ISBN: 978-1-906607-15-9

In December 2007 the World Bank launched its Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) to act as a catalyst to promote public and private investment in REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation). This report finds that the FCPF fails to fulfil its social and environmental commitments, while national REDD Readiness Preparation Proposals (R-PPs) lack sufficient plans for policy and legal reforms that would uphold forest peoples’ rights, improve forest governance and reduce deforestation. The R-PPs analyzed in the report appear to lack effective measures to clarify and strengthen land tenure rights, do not support free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) and side-step much needed legal and policy reforms. Based on a critical review of FCPF documents and analyses of eight of the fifteen national R-PPs, submitted to the FCPF as of January 2011, the key findings of this review are:

  • It is unclear whether specific FCPF safeguard measures are mandatory requirements or are optional at different stages of the REDD process. Rather than strengthening and implementing the Bank’s safeguards, the FCPF has created a dense set of guidelines that overlook serious weaknesses in national legal frameworks, especially relating to respect for customary rights, FPIC and related land demarcation and titling procedures.
  • Most R-PPs rely on biased analyses of the causes of deforestation that blame indigenous peoples and local communities for forest loss and damage, without justification.
  • National consultations on draft R-PPs have been either non-existent or inadequate, and core observations and proposals of forest peoples are being disregarded or only given superficial treatment, in particular recommendations relating to land and territorial rights.
  • All the R-PPs reaffirm state ownership over forest lands and most focus on valuation and monitoring of forest carbon to the exclusion of livelihood, biodiversity and cultural values.
  • Though R-PPs acknowledge the need for governance reforms, most confine this to the establishment of new government institutions to oversee REDD and related forest and climate programmes.
  • R-PPs reviewed show a narrow focus on carbon measurement an monitoring, while they lack a detailed analysis of the drivers of deforestation and governance failures, and don’t address key rights and livelihood issues that should be dealt with in forest and climate initiatives.

This review concludes that with key causes of forest loss not being sufficiently addressed, failing consultation processes, a focus on measuring carbon at the cost of improving governance and a ‘race to the bottom’ in terms of safeguards, it is difficult to see how the national plans emerging from the FCPF funded R-PPs will contribute to reducing forest loss and ensuring respect for human rights. Download the report [pdf] …

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