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Brazil: The impact of financialization of nature on indigenous communities and territories
Ninawa Huni Kuin
Huni Kuin community, Acre, Brazil
"They call it a Plan of Life, but we know it is a REDD project; they have changed the name to deceive communities."
The mechanisms of financialization of nature are promoted by transnational corporations, financial institutions and multilateral organizations as a way to defend nature and as a solution to the global climate crisis. Many of the mechanisms that operate under this logic are already being imposed in several countries. One of them is the so called “non-recoverable fund”, i.e. projects that do not aim to generate profit. But the analyses and voices against them did not take long to appear and there are more and more arguments against them.
It is becoming increasingly difficult to access the voices of communities where financialization of nature projects are taking place. Real World Radio interviewed indigenous leader Ninawa Huni Kuin, of the Huni Kuin community, from Acre, Brazil.
In 2010, Acre passed the SISA law (Environmental Services Incentive System), with the supposed goal of protecting the land, the natural beauty of the area, and reducing deforestation. But Ninawa told us that the projects promoted under this law are “prompting communities to participate in them without respecting their right to prior knowledge or consultation” about them. This is generating problems among the communities, such as “divisions between community leaders”.
The law establishes seven types of public policy programs, but the only one implemented so far is the one related to the REDD mechanism (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation). The divisions according to Ninawa seem to be caused by State actors in charge of implementing these types of projects: “some leaders in small communities are contacted and they start receiving money, so they begin to clash with the people who are against the projects” or against how they are being implemented.
Ninawa gave an example of how financialization of nature projects are being imposed in his region: “The KfW (German development bank) is financing projects in Acre with “non-recoverable funds”. These resources are already being used in some indigenous communities without them knowing for what, or where these resources come from”.
The communities that decide to reject these projects are harassed and pressured, says Ninawa: “they have had their social benefits withdrawn, the leaders have been discredited saying that they do not represent communities or that we are against them, and I have been threatened for the objections I filed in international spaces”.
Even key organizations that support indigenous people in the region, such as the Missionary Indigenous Council (CIMI), have suffered attacks for supporting the communities who do not accept this type of project.
The strategy of imposition varies. The Yawanawa indigenous people have publicly rejected proposed finance from a company called VEDA, through what the company calls a Plan of Life for the Yawanawa People, demanding transparency: “They have called it a Plan of Life, but we know it is a REDD project; they have changed the name to deceive communities”.