International Rights of Nature Tribunal Lima, Peru – December 2014by Tom BK Goldtooth, December 6, 2014 Click for REDD and Forests Case I have listened to the interventions of this market phenomenon and a so-called solution to the climate crisis that the world is experiencing – this is called REDD (Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation). Thank you to the Presenter of this case that laid the context of how REDD violates the rights as explained in the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth. Thank you to the Experts of your expertise on this complex topic that begins to break the boundaries on how we understand the destructive effects and complex interactions of neoliberal capitalism, governance, the legal and political regimes of property rights, human rights, Indigenous peoples rights and Nature. Watch now. As a Judge of this Court, I would like to say a few words about our Indigenous cosmology related to our relationship with Nature – and my articulation of our relationship with our Mother, our Grandmother, the Earth. This regards my summary and recommendation to the Tribunal on the deliberation of REDD. Working for environmental and economic justice is spiritual work that re-affirms our human relationship and responsibility to protect the sacredness of Mother Earth, of Nature and recognition of the indigenous concepts of Father Sky. Within this way of Life, we have Natural laws of Nature that have been developed since the beginning of time that allow us to live in harmony within the sacredness of Creation. These Natural Laws of Mother Earth and the rights of her territorial integrity are being violated. Indigenous peoples and people of the land of the world, such as small farmers and peasants, participating in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) COP climate negotiations and other UN meetings are in the frontlines of a foreign power structure that minimizes the importance of indigenous cosmologies and worldview and land-based and fisher culture communities. These power structures reside within the UN process, the World Bank and financial institutions, and by governments systems that have economic systems that objectify, commodify and put a monetary value on land, water, forests and air that is contrary to indigenous worldview. Indigenous peoples, North and South, are forced into the world market systems with nothing to negotiate with except the natural resources relied upon for survival. History has seen attempts to commodify land, food, labor, forests, water, genes and ideas, such as privatization of our traditional knowledge. REDD, and related regimes such as carbon trading and carbon offsets follow in the footsteps of this history that turns the functions of the forests and the sacredness of our Mother Earth’s carbon-cycling capacity into property to be bought or sold in a global market. This means any provisions of title to property by modern governmental legal regimes carries with it the legal authority to destroy the natural communities (which includes human communities and ecosystems) that depend on that property for survival. Through this process of creating a new commodity – carbon – Mother Earth’s ability and capacity to support a climate conducive to life and human societies is now passing into the same corporate hands that are destroying the climate. I have heard testimony that REDD and these carbon markets will not contribute to achieving protection of the Earth’s climate. It is a false solution which entrenches and magnifies social inequalities in many ways. I heard testimony that REDD is a pillar of the so-called Green Economy that places a monetary price on Nature and creates new derivative markets that will only increase inequality and increase the destruction of Mother Earth. In my understanding, any promotion of REDD and market solutions to mitigate climate change is to put the future of Nature and humanity in the hands of financial speculative mechanisms. This includes other market systems of conservation and biodiversity offsets and payment for environmental and ecological services. Mr. President, Judges, Prosecutor and the participants of this Tribunal, here are my conclusions: The presentations of this Tribunal have demonstrated that REDD projects are a Nature destructive model that claims it is protecting forests. However, testimony, based upon research, has shown that it is actually a capitalist, financial mechanism set up to benefit financial institutions, including the World Bank, conservation and environment NGOs, governments and the fossil fuel industry. Any continued implementation of REDD projects would be at the expense of the Rights to Mother Earth; expense of Nature, and expense of the human rights of communities and peoples. I submit to this Tribunal that it reject REDD. REDD projects inherently violate the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth. In my analysis, the Rights of Nature – of Mother Earth are inherent. Nature’s rights already exist and any human law that denies those fundamental rights is illegitimate. Article 1. (of the 2010 Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth)
- Just as human beings have human rights, all other beings also have rights which are specific to their species or kind and appropriate for their role and function within the communities within which they exist.
- promote economic systems that are in harmony with Mother Earth and in accordance with the rights recognized in this Declaration.