BOLIVIA has tabled a new proposal on forest conservation, but has so far been disappointed by the lack of attention from other negotiators, it said yesterday at the United Nations (UN) climate- change talks in Durban.
Any comprehensive solution to climate change will have to take account of forests, which trap and store carbon dioxide. According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation, forests trap 1-trillion tons of carbon - twice the amount in the atmosphere.
Bolivia's chief negotiator, Rene Orellana, said his country was worried about proposals to use private sector markets to fund forest conservation, as this did not take account of the multiple functions forests provide.
These include livelihoods for local communities, as well as biodiversity, food security and access to water resources.
Current climate policy seeks to preserve forests through a mechanism known as REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation).
But Mr Orellana said existing REDD policy only takes account of the carbon storage provided by forests and neglects the role of local communities.
Bolivia's proposal, if accepted, would see forest preservation funded by governments and global funds to tackle climate change. Mr Orellana said voluntary private sector funds would also be acceptable if they were in the form of corporate social investment and not from carbon markets, which do not reduce absolute carbon dioxide emissions.
"Indigenous people are integral to forest management. It is not new. We are not innovating. This integral management must be recognised and financed," he said. Funding should go directly to indigenous people and local communities, possibly through a national climate-justice fund. Earlier yesterday, speakers from the Global Forest Coalition also voiced their opposition to REDD policies. Fiu Elisara, from Samoa, said many of the solutions developed were about business and profit rather than climate change. These solutions tended to come from the developed world, which was chiefly responsible for greenhouse gas emissions.
"Climate change is a matter of life and death for many of our people," Mr Elisara said. "We reject many of these models, including REDD. Many are packaged in palatable language, but are destroying people."