Multi-stakeholder Forum Meeting

Sunday, January 3rd, 2021

Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities (NEFIN)-Climate Change and REDD Partnership Program, REDD-Forestry and Climate Change Cell and Federation of Community Forestry Users Group (FECOFUN), Nepal jointly organized a “Multi-stakeholder Forum Meeting” on 31 Dec. 2010 at Ministry of Forest and Soil Conservation. Seventy one participants including indigenous peoples’, government agencies representatives, NGOs and INGOs representatives, journalists, and relevant REDD stakeholders actively participated in the meeting. The objectives of the meeting were to share the outcome of COP 16 and also to share the experiences and learning from the implementation of Climate Change and REDD Partnership Programs. Honorable Constituent Assembly members of indigenous communities; namely; Ms. Shanta Chaudhary, Mr. Pasang Sherpa and Mr. Prithvi Subba Gurung; and NEFIN’s Chairperson-Mr. Raj Kumar Lekhy and NEFIN’s Treasurer-Mr. Dandu Dhyokpa were also present in the meeting.

Ms. Pasang Dolma Sherpa, National Coordinator of NEFIN-Climate Change and REDD Partnership Program highlighted on the past, ongoing and future activities of the partnership program. Ms. Sherpa emphasized on the necessity of the upcoming REDD strategy be accountable to ensure the rights of indigenous peoples’ rights ensured by ILO Convention No. 169 and United Nation Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples’ (UNDRIP). Besides, Ms. Sherpa shared on the outcomes of the recently held sixteenth conference of parties (COP 16) at Cancun in Mexico. She informed that COP 16 has slightly touched the aspiration of indigenous peoples in the adaptation and mitigation text, particularly in the text of REDD, where the respect for the knowledge and rights of indigenous peoples and local communities; and the full and effective participation of relevant stakeholders in particular to indigenous peoples and local communities are mentioned. Ms. Sherpa also underlined the importance of continuous lobby and advocacy of indigenous peoples’ leaders for the final agreement of REDD to ensure the rights of indigenous peoples’.

In the meeting, there were also presentations from REDD-Forestry and Climate Change Cell and Federations of Community Forestry Users’ Group (FECOFUN). All the participants actively participated and articulated their concerns. The recommendations and comments made by the participants during the meeting are enumerated below:

Paying attention to the ratification of Indigenous Tribal Peoples Convention (ILO C 169) and adoption of UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples ( UNDRIP) by the government of Nepal, it becomes the obligation of the state to make REDD strategy consistent with these international instruments.

Modern forest management system has sidelined the indigenous peoples’ traditional knowledge, skills and customary systems of resource management in some places where indigenous peoples are in minority. On the other hand, the places where indigenous peoples have majority, they still practice their customary and traditional systems of forest management. Therefore, there is a dire need that REDD policies explicitly recognize, respect and promote the indigenous peoples knowledge and their traditional forest management.

Nepal is rich in bio-diversity. The richness of bio-diversity that our country has should not be aggravated in the name of carbon trading or plantation. Plantation of similar species deteriorates the bio-diversity which in turn exasperates the indigenous peoples’ subsistence and traditions because biodiversity is a source of cultural and spiritual wealth for indigenous peoples’.

We are in the process of making REDD strategy. Indigenous peoples, dalits, women and poor people will not accept REDD strategy; if it misses to clearly address their actual concerns. So it is highly recommended to increase their representation in the consultation workshops and tease out their actual concerns to make the strategy acceptable and successful.

We should remain vigilant about the ongoing World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF); because it is visible that there is a risk of World Bank being more dominant over the national processes. So multi-stakeholder forum may be the medium through which we can forward our positions on safeguards, national process and prioritize the issues that World Bank must address in order to move ahead.

In the process of REDD, the making of various policies, strategies and guidelines are going on, so we should be cautious that REDD not only become a flow of policies and guidelines where consultants benefit the most and the issues of drivers of deforestation remain same in the ground level.

Win Rock International, Nepal and World Wildlife Fund, Nepal have prepared the guidelines for carbon measurement. Similarly, Asia Network for Sustainable Agriculture and Bio-resource (ANSAB), International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) and Federation of Community Forestry Users, Nepal (FECOFUN) have jointly prepared the carbon measurement guidelines (http://www.ansab.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/Carbon-Measurement-Guideline-REDD-final.pdf). In the scenarios of various organizations preparing the carbon measurement guidelines; REDD-Forestry and Climate Change Cell, in collaboration with stakeholders have prepared and posted the draft national guidelines in its website for suggestions.

The participants underlined on the necessity of fair and equitable benefit sharing. They also urged stakeholders to remain cautious about the possible conflict and misunderstanding that could come across in the allocation and distribution of benefit.

The women and dalit representatives demanded their representations in the REDD working group, under the Ministry of Forest and Soil Conservation (MoFSC).

The dalit representative strongly raised the issues of marginalized groups being abandoned from community forestry users’ group. He decried the community forestry users group’s insouciant attitude towards dalits participation and representation in the community forests. If this trend continues; neglecting dalit issues; chances are high that REDD would further aggravate the status quo.

Mr. Raj Kumar Lekhy, Chairperson of NEFIN, in his closing remarks explicitly stated about the vital roles indigenous peoples have been playing in the conservation of the natural resources since hundreds of years. It is sad but true; the representation and voices of indigenous peoples in the community forestry users group are very weak. So, Mr. Lekhy asked the representatives of FECOFUN to deliberate on this issue. Mr. Lekhy also drew the attention of the non-indigenous peoples’ to realize the values carried by ILO Convention No 169 and UNDRIP. The program was concluded with the vote of thanks from the Secretary of Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation (MoFSC).