Ceasing Forest Conversion Harms Poor
CANCUN – Proposals by wealthy countries to restrict access to forest areas in developing countries in the name of climate change will have a detrimental effect upon the world’s poor, according to a new report by pro-development NGO World Growth. The report, released today, questions the current strategy of rich countries to pour billions of dollars into developing countries in the hope that it will alleviate poverty and solve the world’s climate problems.
World Growth Chairman, and former chairman of the GATT (the predecessor to the World Trade Organization), Alan Oxley released the following statement:
“The claim by many donors and environmental groups that the REDD (reduced emissions from deforestation and forest degradation) will help the poor and magically reduce emissions are disingenuous at best. Environmental groups and some wealthy countries are advocating that poor countries simply deny access to forested land whether it is to produce food or harvest timber.
“According to published research, WWF has displaced as many as 20,000 already impoverished people through its programs in Africa. Its lobbying for increased national parks in Indonesia ignored the economic needs of local people and has produced parks that neither adequately protect the environment nor address the needs of local communities.
“There is a large level of complicity in this from the World Bank and other donor organizations. They have by their own admissions failed to develop or implement suitable ways to measure the impact of establishing ‘no-go zones’ for poor people in countries with high levels of poverty.
“For the past 15 years, the share of aid devoted to improving economic growth in developing countries has fallen steadily, and now accounts for only 12 per cent compared to 28 per cent in the mid-1990s. Instead, the share of aid to support improvement of the environment in developing countries has increased.
“This is effectively money that promotes poverty. Now REDD advocates are calling for greater spending on these types of projects. Conventional development assistance is now repackaged as climate aid, and thus far there have been just promises, not real actions.”
“Rich countries need to remember that ending poverty is the surest way to protect the environment. It does not work the other way around – nor does promising everything and delivering nothing.”
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