Recently, changes to the language used in the REDD text threaten to undo 10 + years of progress on Forests for Climate initiatives. Andrea Johnson, Director of the Forests campaign at the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) offers us all an explanation on how the negotiations are moving along with in Poznan.

Rights of indigenous peoples and local communities = edited out due to political inconveniences.

Protection of the diversity of organisms and ecological functions that define a forest = turned into a “co-benefit” to “explore”.

Conversion of primary forests to large-scale plantations = just another form of “sustainable forest management.”

Real discussion of forest governance or any of the drivers of deforestation, from industrial agriculture to illegal logging = totally absent.

The current state of the REDD negotiations, including the (non)conclusions coming out of SBSTA(Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice), appear to be taking a huge step backwards. Let’s take a closer look at what is really happening:

It boggles the mind that after decades of efforts to protect the world’s forests, governments still don’t understand that indigenous peoples (with an "s"!) and local communities aren’t just another “methodological issue”. Take the DRCongo: 60% of its inhabitants, some 40 million people, are indigenous or forest-dependent communities. REDD will not provide any credible, permanent emission reductions if indigenous people do not benefit from it.

The tropical timber industry is one where illegality is routine and mismanagement of its core activity – industrial logging – is standard practice. Hundreds of million of dollars of donor funding to rectify this situation has thus far failed to make a dent. Why? Both rampant corruption and the vast consumer markets of Europe, the U.S. and other G-8 nations, which undermine their own foreign aid buying billions of dollars of undervalued wood and other commodities, with no questions asked about their source.

As the EU Commission noted in its recent communication on REDD, “Illegal logging is one of the direct drivers of deforestation and forest degradation, and strengthening forest law enforcement, governance and institutions at local and national level as well as tackling the trade in and consumption of illegally harvested timber are necessary for any effective policy response.”

One final concept for this basic explanation: A REDD mechanism without strong requirements for good governance, transparency and complementary demand-side driver policies, without respect for the rights and interests of forest-dependent peoples, or without a reality-based definition of what a forest and its degradation really are = a failure.