19th April- Beginning of the Conference

April 19, 2010

An early morning start to beat the queues for accreditation has paid off and we are in the conference, taking place at the UniValle, a big university campus in Tiquipaya, about 10km out of CBB. It’s beginning to bustle with people handing out leaflets, a woman is standing with a large banner reading, “JESUS, the first revolutionary,” and there is some bad piped rock music!

The big news of the morning is that the Forests working group have got  a provisional statement that uses the language of REDD, and seems to be supporting this disaster initiative. It has also been discovered that the appointed moderator of the working group is a REDD supporter from the UN. See the Durban statement on REDD in our list of articles to know more, and please encourage groups to sign it as soon as possible.

The conversations we have already been having with people regarding REDD are increasingly worrying. While it is clear that REDD projects pose an imminent threat to the land rights of indigenous communities, and threaten the integrity of areas of the Amazonian rainforest, there have been cynical moves within the UN and pro-REDD groups to co-opt a minority of indigenous leaders. These leaders have been offered financial incentives to speak out against any dissent, claiming that an anti-REDD position is racist, and this is dividing the communities. Numerous groups and communities from around the world are here to ensure that the declaration of the Forests Working Group does not present a pro-REDD statement in the planning for COP16 in Mexico.

A Brazilian friend, who has just returned from meeting with Amazonian communities, explained that satellite technology is being used to monitor and control areas of REDD plantations. The technology is so advanced, along the lines of the CCTV we are used to in Europe, that she said “they can even see you taking a piss in the forest”, and night vision is being used to ensure that areas can be managed and monitored at all times. These incursions into the Amazon have dramatic impacts for uncontacted indigenous tribes, and for other groups living and working in the rainforests.

We’re off to find our working group and see what happening there.

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