UNDP persisting with REDD+ in PNG, despite the concept’s proven failure

Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+) – a proposed system of locking up forest land in developing countries in order to offset greenhouse gas emissions in industrialised countries –  has been repeatedly demonstrated as a failed concept, however the UN Development Programme continues to hire highly-paid consultants to push the idea in PNG. It is now more than five years since PNG first accessed international donor funds to work on “REDD+ Readiness”. And yet, UNDP is currently recruiting international experts to “develop the national REDD+ Readiness strategy”.

After five years and millions of dollars spent, PNG has not even successfully planned how to prepare for REDD+. But the money continues to flow, and the benefits – for local communities and for the environment – are nowhere to be found.

The REDD+ approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions has been repeatedly debunked, in this newsletter, and elsewhere. The idea that burning of fossil fuels can continue unabated in industrialised countries, in return for poor countries foregoing development of forested land was rejected as unworkable during negotiations for the Kyoto Protocol in the 1990s. The persistence of the scheme is a tragedy for communities – who are denied meaningful opportunities for economic development – and a boon for highly paid international consultants and conmen.

Chris Lang – a self-proclaimed REDD+ watchdog – recently released a report revealing that REDD+ is unworkable, and was based on a flawed set of initial assumptions. Although Mr Lang is an anti-forestry activist, his REDD+ analysis is well-informed and valuable. Mr Lang’s report presents the cast of crooks who have profited handsomely from the REDD+ approach in PNG, and demonstrates that communities have been ripped off.

The report quotes the United Kingdom Insolvency Service, which found that a major international REDD+ fraud was perpetrated against villagers in Oro province, and that “Far from the “ski money” promised to the indigenous land owning tribes in PNG and funding to save the rain forest, investors’ money went to those behind the scheme and those selling it to vulnerable people whose lives have been ruined as a result.”

 Landowners in PNG – as well as the government – must remain on guard against consultants and swindlers who tout the supposed “win-win” benefits of REDD+. As with many things in life, if promises appear too good to be true, it is very likely they are false.

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