Dear Tri-Caucus: Introducing the Tri-Caucus (Part II)

Dearest Friends, Colleagues,

By Allison Silverman, Staff Attorney Climate & Energy Program
By Allison Silverman, Staff Attorney Climate & Energy Program

It is hard to believe that a year has passed since we formed the Tri-Caucus to improve coordination between those who focus specifically on rights related to REDD+. As we finalize last-minute logistics for the upcoming UN climate negotiations – the Conference of the Parties (COP 20) in Lima, Peru – I wanted to reflect upon what we have accomplished as a loose collaboration of indigenous peoples, local communities and civil society organizations. In writing this, I am reminded of how impressive our work is!

Despite disparate time zones, we have managed to meet monthly with the support of our dear “Tri-Caucus Focal Points.” These meetings have enabled us to clarify what opportunities lay before us during the COP 20 in Lima. Together, we’ve created a coordinated message that strengthening communities’ rights over forests, and effective safeguards implementation, are fundamental to the success of all forest policies.  Together our Tri-Caucus has:

  • Established a shared online platform to communicate about recently published and relevant reports, presentations, tools and resources. Here, we have also created a shared calendar, which includes specific COP 20 activities that many of us mapped out together. The calendar illustrates the numerous spaces where we will disseminate our collective messages. Importantly, it has proved useful not only for us in the Tri-Caucus, but also for our extended networks;
  • Drafted a joint submission to the UN Climate Convention on the need for further guidance on how to address and respect the REDD+ safeguards, as well as increased support for each group’s individual submissions on this topic and on Non-Carbon Benefits. We have spent years fighting to protect human rights, traditional knowledge and biodiversity. Our submissions offer examples of how we work to ensure that these safeguards are actually implemented and operationalized on the ground;
  • Integrated each others’ interests and concerns in organizational materials and advocacy at the international level, in which we have effectively drawn from each other’s national experiences and expertise;
  • Engaged in issues beyond REDD+ and at venues beyond the UN Climate Convention that apply our experiences with the REDD+ social, environmental and governance safeguards to broader climate justice work;
  • Organized and participated in capacity building activities, such as our rights-based land use webinar, to better understand and explore how to integrate the rights protections in broader land use/landscape discussions looking towards the 2015 climate agreement; and,
  • Organized numerous events around COP 20 to present our positions.

We have started a movement! And while we have spent months learning to respect each other’s decision-making practices and developing good processes for collaboration and communication, COP 20 will offer us many opportunities to see this hard work come to fruition. While the final decisions are out of our control, we are ready to work together to influence the texts on REDD+ and land use, as well as to share our messages outside the formal talks.

In Lima, I look forward to working with you to advocate for the critical need for further guidance on the safeguards information system so that the REDD+ safeguards are actually addressed and respected. In so doing, we will ensure that REDD+ both does no harm and provides added benefits beyond carbon to the forests, indigenous peoples and local communities, and biodiversity. Together, we will continue to push for community monitoring for REDD+ and stronger provisions for addressing drivers of deforestation. We will also promote our rights-based approach to comprehensive land use. Between the indigenous pavilion, the Global Landscape Forum, the official side event spaces and the streets of Lima, among others, we are extraordinarily well-positioned to present our views and ideas. And while the final decisions are out of our control, we are ready to work together to influence the texts on REDD+ and land use.  As we look towards the 2015 agreement in Paris- the evolution of the Tri-Caucus over the past year will only add support for climate justice generally as well as the local communities and indigenous peoples who live in, depend on, and protect the world’s forests.

See you in Lima!

With respect and gratitude,

Ps. While it is true that we have all worked extraordinarily hard over the last year and we will have long days with late nights and early mornings in Lima, we must remember to take some time to enjoy each other’s company, to continue to learn from our personal experiences and to celebrate our hard work.  Please remember to mark your calendars for our Tri-Caucus-sponsored celebration of human rights at the Indigenous Peoples’ Pavilion, which we will hold after the march on the evening of December 10th, which is International Human Rights Day.

Originally posted on November 22, 2014.