Clima East at COP 19 – Notes from our Key Expert (3)

Human Rights: lessons learnt from CDM can inform design of new market mechanisms.

On the margins of the SBSTA work on issues relating to the clean development mechanism (CDM), while negotiators try to agree on guidance relating to the CDM and find a common ground on the review of the modalities and procedures for the CDM and discuss new mechanisms under the Framework for Various Approaches, a group of environmental NGOs consisting of the German Forum Environment & Development, together with the Nature Code and Paryavaran Mitra organised a seminar on Human Rights in CDM. The seminar entitled: Human Rights: How lessons learnt from the CDM can inform the design of new market mechanisms took place on 15 November in Warsaw.

The CDM has been criticised by the NGOs not only on the grounds of its problematic contribution to net emission reductions – as one of the offsetting mechanisms it allows the buyers of credits to increase their emissions by the volume corresponding to CERs acquired, but also for several systemic problems with establishing additionality and baselines used as reference for calculating emission reductions. Environmental integrity of some projects has also been recognized as questionable. One of the top concerns is connected with the examples of human rights abuses which were reported in connection with some CDM projects. The UN professes a “zero tolerance” approach to human rights abuse. However, once the CDM project is registered, there is no recourse to specific sanctions which would invalidate that project. The existing option of a request to review the Letter of Approval (LoA) does not provide a sufficient tool of such an intervention. In practice DNA’s do not approach the CDM EB with LoA cancelations in cases where such abuses occurred.  In the cases when such human rights abuses were confirmed, initially the project developers followed the rules on stakeholders consultation and their initial LoA was most likely be issued prior to these abuses at the planning stage of the particular projects. The problems were emerging at the stage of projects’ implementation. During discussion, the participants suggested a greater involvement of the designated national authorities (DNAs) in the host countries which issue letters of approval to the projects in controlling how the project developers are fulfilling the obligations undertaken in the approval phase. The indigenous people, rural communities and minorities should be especially protected. However, there are some good examples for extra care taken by DNAs. For example, Colombia requires a specific consultation with and approval of affected indigenous communities in case they live in the affected area of a proposed CDM project.

These concerns should be taken into account by CDM Executive Board in the context of the on-going reform of CMD modalities and procedures. Including a representative of civil society and NGOs in the Board could provide an additional impulse to human rights protection in CDM. The participants also expressed their concerns connected with REDD+. Safeguards adopted by the COP.16 in Cancun were considered as adopted before REDD+ took off, so too early to provide real protection to vulnerable stakeholders.

The participants stressed that lessons learned from the CDM should be taken into account in the design of new market mechanisms. However, no specific recommendations were put forward, given the limited knowledge among the participants of the future design of new market mechanisms.