Research Handbook on Law, Environment and the Global South
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Research Handbook on Law, Environment and the Global South

Edited by Philippe Cullet and Sujith Koonan

This comprehensive Research Handbook offers an innovative analysis of environmental law in the global South and contributes to an important reassessment of some of its major underlying concepts. The Research Handbook discusses areas rarely prioritized in environmental law, such as land rights, and underlines how these intersect with issues including poverty, livelihoods and the use of natural resources, challenging familiar narratives around development and sustainability in this context and providing new insights into environmental justice.
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Chapter 12: Forests, people and poverty: failing to reform the global development paradigm

Feja Lesniewska


Since the late 1940s law and policy interventions on forest issues in the global South have perpetuated exploitative business models established under colonialism in pursuit of national development. Evidence from reform processes consistently reveals that forest dependent and indigenous peoples are excluded, impoverished and discriminated against by more powerful agents, from both the public and private sector, in the design and execution of laws and policies. Most recently the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change’s Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+) mechanism despite some notable efforts is continuing this long-established tradition. This chapter draws on country examples to illustrate how investments in legal preparedness for REDD+ are repeating previous forest law and development initiatives by imposing objectives and techniques upon forest peoples. The chapter concludes that satisfying economic, social and environmental objectives is only possible where resource use is prescribed by forest peoples and indigenous peoples.

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