Research Handbooks in Climate Law series
Edited by Christina Voigt
Chapter 9: REDD+, tenure and indigenous property: the promise and peril of a ‘human rights-based approach’
In this chapter I argue that the emphasis in REDD+ policy and commentary on the need for ‘secure and clear’ tenure, coupled with a ‘human rights-based’ approach to programming suggests a bias in favour of property rights premised on current possession of land. Since states embarking on tenure reform in anticipation of REDD+ funding will need to address competing claims to forested land, the methodology so far endorsed by UN-REDD and the FAO could disadvantage communities claiming tenure rights based on prior possession. This is likely to affect indigenous communities claiming rights sourced in customary law, particularly where those rights are not enforceable in state law and are sought by communities that have been dispossessed of the land they claim. Human rights methodologies do not adequately address historic claims of this kind. I note that in contrast, the World Bank’s operational policy OP 4.10 on indigenous peoples (which applies in principle to the FCPF in its administration of REDD+ funding), makes some provision, albeit limited, for the rights of indigenous peoples to land they no longer occupy, and provides for compensation where access to those lands cannot be secured.
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