Nuku Alofa declaration*

Nuku Alofa declaration*

From 29 to 31 July 2009, over 15 participants from 8 different countries in the Pacific/Oceania region, from Indigenous peoples, civil society and governments, gathered in Tonga to discuss global issues that severely impact our region on a daily basis: climate change, forest protection, and the role of Indigenous peoples and local communities.


We [Indigenous peoples of the Pacific] are deeply alarmed by the accelerating climate devastation brought about by unsustainable development, and we are experiencing profound and disproportionate adverse impacts on our Pacific cultures, human and environmental health, human rights, wellbeing, traditional livelihoods, food systems and food sovereignty, local infrastructure, economic viability and our very survival as Indigenous peoples.

Consumer nations must adequately address the issue of ecological debt to the global south and not shift liability for their own unsustainable production and consumption to those nations not responsible for the high level of climate emissions.

We remind the parties that Indigenous peoples are on the front line of climate change, whether they are from “developed” nations or not, and do not automatically have access to the benefits of a developed economy.

Call for Action

We are concerned that in its current form REDD is misleading and is a false solution to climate change, erodes Indigenous land rights and fails to account for the long term and ongoing conservation and land management of forested areas by Indigenous peoples and forest dependent communities.

We call for all nations in the Pacific to sign on to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

We call for any agreement on forests to fully and explicitly uphold the rights under UNDRIP, the Convention on Biodiversity (CBD), and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

All rights under UNDRIP must be included in the CBD and UNFCCC, and the customary and territorial land rights of Indigenous Peoples and forest-dependent communities must be recognised and enforced by any international agreement on forest policy.

We call for the suspension of all REDD initiatives in Indigenous lands and territories until such a time as Indigenous peoples’ rights are fully recognised and promoted, and community consent has been obtained.

The linkage of REDD to markets risks allows Annex-1 countries to avoid responsibility for reducing emissions in their own countries and could even increase net carbon emissions. Carbon offsetting and the inclusion of REDD credits in carbon markets will do nothing to address the underlying causes of climate change, nor will carbon offsetting and market mechanisms provide the predictable and reliable funding required for addressing deforestation.

We demand that forests not be included in carbon trading schemes, and call on all governments to halt deforestation and keep fossil fuels in the ground; not trade one for the other. Forests need to be protected, but they must be protected by strengthening and enforcing forest legislation, not using market mechanisms.

We support the call for binding emissions reductions targets for Annex 1 countries of at least 45% below 1990 levels by 2020, and at least 95% by 2050. Annex 1 countries must therefore deliver on their commitments to making real and effective emission reductions.

We call for real and genuine solutions to climate change, not false solutions like ocean fertilisation, REDD, biofuels and monocultures for plantations that erode and violate the rights of Indigenous peoples and forest-dependant communities, and destroy biodiversity.

Any definition of forests must strongly differentiate between plantations and natural forests to incorporate fundamental Indigenous understandings of forests and account for the vast differences in carbon storage capacity.

We call for accurate carbon accounting on forests, and for ANY funding for the reduction of emissions from deforestation and degradation, and appropriate technology transfer to be prioritised for community-based forest management schemes, managed through strengthened mechanisms within the UNFCCC. Donor nations should not fund international financial institutions like the World Bank to implement projects that support flawed solutions to climate change.

* This is an edited version of the Declaration

See Also:

Pacific Comments on REDD

Special guest article from Fiu Mata’ese Elisara/Executive Director of OLSSI, Samoa

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