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The accord creates incentives to keep forests standing and reduce CO2 emissions.
"In various REDD pilot projects throughout the world, the rights of indigenous peoples have consistently been violated," said Jihan Gearon, from the Indigenous Environmental Network. Pointing to the fact that no laws protect indigenous inhabitants from being removed from their land by the corporate interests that own it through REDD+, she said this has already played out in pilot projects in Kenya, Congo and Papua New Guinea.
Theoretically safeguards are built into the REDD+ framework to protect indigenous rights. These safeguards cover the protection of rights, bidoversity, natural forest and governance, guaranteeing that REDD+ does not interfere with the estimated 300 million to 400 million people living in forests around the world.
It was those safeguards that hung up the talks until the final night, and they remain incomplete, said Rosalind Reeves, of the environmental watchdog Global Witness.
Major sticking points included whether REDD+ would be governed at the national or subnational level. Countries such as Brazil do not want a REDD+ policy that would infringe on their national sovereignty. Morales has been outspoken about the need for local communities to have a voice in any discussion regarding their forests.
Many nations, including Malaysia and Papua New Guinea, oppose having to always consult local communities before moving forward. None of these issues have been fully resolved, and could ultimately hamper the implementation of REDD.
As a final challenge, outside of a $4.1 billion start-up fund, no long-term plan for financing for REDD+ exists, and no one has a figure for how much it will cost. This has slowed down the process, and will have to be addressed if REDD+ is to play a major role in curbing global emissions.