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Final Report Summary - CGPESA (Communities, governance and payment for ecosystem services in Amazonia)

The project began with an extensive literature review, bridging the numerous domains relevant to payments for ecosystem services (PES) and reduced emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD), spanning political science, anthropology, geography, environmental sciences, development studies, law and economics. Through the course of the fellowship, Dr Brightman considerably expanded and enhanced his existing interdisciplinary and international network of contacts bridging academia, government and civil society. Through these activities, he identified a tighter focus for the project on REDD+, which combines multi-institutional efforts to achieve conservation and international development goals simultaneously. REDD+ raises the questions of political economy and social impact that are central to the research objectives, and is at the heart of efforts to 'scale up' the principal of payments for ecosystem services from local to national and international, even global scales.

Having originally intended a horizontal focus, comparing sites in different parts of the Amazon Basin, the project focus was amended to take into account the institutional complexity of REDD+, comprising United Nations institutions, governments, international environmental non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and applied research organisations, national social and political NGOs, and forest peoples, on the basis that to understand the interactions associated with REDD+ it is necessary to study the relationships between these different categories as fully as possible. As a single researcher, it was not possible to carry out a comprehensive study of such a complex phenomenon, but as a compromise, it was decided to maintain a focus on the national REDD strategy and associated governance reforms in a single country, Suriname, where the fellow was able to build upon his extensive field experience during his previous postdoctoral and doctoral work.

From the fellow's field research it emerged that, on a national level, REDD fits in as part of a broader government strategy of 'climate smart' development, an attempt to coordinate a range of policies that are intended to attract 'green' development funding. This is reflected in institutional changes as a new policy unit in the President's office has been created to harmonise the activities of different ministries for the purpose. National policy discourse is thus in tune with international green development discourse of which REDD+ forms a significant component. The more problematic area was shown to be that of the relationships with local actors, namely forest peoples. Civil society organisations representing indigenous and tribal forest peoples in Suriname express not only scepticism towards REDD itself, but also serious objections to the processes of preparation for REDD, known as the 'readiness' programme, administered by the United Nations (World Bank) Forest Carbon Partnership Facility. There are several reasons why these relationships are problematic. First of all there is a lack of engagement on the part of the government. Indigenous and tribal groups repeatedly call for proper consultations to be carried out to obtain their free prior and informed consent which is recognised as their right within the protocol of the FCPF, with little response. Meanwhile, the structural conditions for negotiation over forest peoples' involvement are not in place - this is to say, their rights to land have yet to be recognised by the Surinamese State. The question of land rights has emerged as the key contemporary political issue as far as Surinamese forest policy and forest peoples are concerned, and it is closely linked to REDD negotiations. Through the ruling by the Inter-American Court that Suriname had violated the human rights of the Saramaka people by allowing mining activities in their territory which caused severe environmental and social harm, Maroon collective rights have been internationally recognised in the same way as those of indigenous peoples, and this has helped indigenous and tribal organisations to present a unified policy position on land rights and REDD+, to the effect that fundamental guarantees in the form of land rights to ancestral territories must be granted them before negotiations over REDD+ activities on indigenous and tribal lands can even begin. The government accepts that the land rights issue must be 'resolved', and has offered to enter dialogue to this effect. Meanwhile it seeks to continue to receive funding for capacity building under the 'readiness' programme.

This case study illustrates well that UN-REDD preparations suffer from the same difficulties as previous, more conventional international development interventions not necessarily linked to environmental conservation or climate change, a point that, while perhaps unsurprising to many social scientists and development practitioners, is only beginning to emerge in discussions in the world of international conservation professionals. The complexity of interactions associated with REDD+ and the sometimes radical disconnection between policy goals and concrete results of interventions can best be appreciated through communications that are able to take advantage of the rich descriptive tools developed by anthropology, and this has been at the core of the strategy for the dissemination of the project's results.

M. Brightman statement:

'Through this project, I have developed an important set of relationships around my research, not only at the Graduate Institute, but also at other institutions in Switzerland (Universities of Neuchâtel, Luzern), and I have enhanced my existing networks in Brazil, France, Portugal and Italy, as well as the United Kingdom. Beside my core activities for the research project, I have consolidated my expertise in the anthropology of politics and the environment while seeking employment and preparing applications for further research funding. This has led me to accept an offer of a permanent lecturing position at University College London, in the Anthropology of Social and Environmental Sustainability. I am also working on a joint funding proposal with colleagues at the University of São Paulo in Brazil, to examine the role of images in the encounter between environmental science, development practitioners and indigenous peoples in the Amazon. Maintaining my relationship with my mentor prof. Hufty at the Graduate Institute, I will be co-organising a workship with him in 2013 on Value, Desire and the Green Economy.'