Date: 02 Oct 2010

Agency in international climate negotiations: the case of indigenous peoples and avoided deforestation

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Abstract

This article examines the agency of indigenous peoples in designing a mechanism for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) under the emerging post-2012 agreement to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. It investigates whether indigenous peoples have agency in international negotiations and specifically the REDD design process and if so, how they have obtained it. Agency refers to the ability of actors to prescribe behaviour and to substantively participate in and/or set their own rules related to the interactions between humans and their natural environment. The aim of this study is to gain understanding of what role non-nation state actors, particularly indigenous peoples, play in shaping the REDD design process under the climate convention and what is shaping their agency. A special emphasis is placed on indigenous peoples as they may be highly vulnerable to the impacts from both climate change and certain policy responses. The article finds that, through REDD, indigenous peoples and forest community alliances are emerging in the climate regime but their agency in designing a mechanism on forest protection in a post-2012 climate regime remains indirect and weak. They are being consulted and invited to provide input, but they are not able to directly participate and ensure that their views and concerns are reflected in the outcome on REDD.