Commercial agriculture projects have been associated with forceful displacement from their ancestral lands, protracted land conflicts, loss of livelihoods with little or no compensation, disregard for their free, prior and informed consent (FPIC), as well as water and soil pollution.
In recent years, the mounting evidence that securing the rights of IPLCs is the most effective way of protecting forests has started to filter through to international funding commitments. The challenge is now to mobilise this funding at the speed and scale necessary to address the climate and biodiversity emergencies. while building the capacity of often remote and politically disenfranchised communities to absorb and use these funds effectively.
Forest carbon offsetting has long been controversial, criticised as a form of greenwashing that not only serves to delay urgent climate action in the global north, but is based on huge uncertainties in the way it is measured, which can lead to the production of ‘hot air’ credits and even fraud.
The traditional ‘fortress conservation’ approach of the west is premised on the dangerous yet persistent idea that local people need to be separated from nature to keep it “pristine” (sometimes for the benefit of foreign tourists). This does not only drive human rights violations but is also ineffective as it ignores and alienates the very people who have shaped and stewarded those landscapes for millennia.
Infrastructure development in the Congo Basin is gathering pace, yet the inadequate consideration of its true costs include their indirect or cumulative impacts, which can go well beyond those of the project itself; displacement of local communities, as well as other social and cultural costs; and the foregoing of potential alternative approaches.
Whilst it is claimed the industry provides jobs, income, infrastructure and development in remote rural areas, the truth is that logging work is often poorly paid, dangerous and temporary. The logging industry is known to be rife with illegalities, social conflicts, and deeply corrupting of political institutions.