Renowned Indigenous Leaders, Environmental Experts Unite to Address Global Efforts to Reduce Tropical Deforestation

March 26, 2013
Evan Johnson, +1-571-243-9231,

(UC DAVIS, CA – March 26, 2013)  Today, indigenous leaders from Brazil, Mexico, and Belize joined international policy experts and government officials in an unprecedented joint effort to tackle climate change, promote sustainable development in local communities and conserve tropical forests throughout the world.

Today’s workshop on “Benefits Sharing and Safeguards” for policies to Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) also included newly released recommendations for how California can bring REDD+ offset credits into its statewide cap-and-trade system with environmental integrity and social equity. 

“Today presents a unique opportunity to come together and have a serious conversation about the potential benefits of REDD. Ultimately, we must work collectively to find ways that empower indigenous communities, provide us the tools to protect our lands and preserve our traditional ways of life,” said Almir Surui, Chief of the Surui People of the Brazilian Amazon.

The event marked the second of three workshops being conducted and hosted by California’s REDD+ Offset Working Group (ROW).

“The world is watching today,” said Elsa Esquivel Bazán, Co-Founder of AMBIO, Chiapas, Mexico. “This is an important dialogue space between governments and indigenous and forest peoples to consider local and global needs for development and climate change mitigation. We recognize that successful implementation of REDD will help our communities develop stable economies that protect the natural resources that we – and all – people depend on.”

In accordance with California’s Global Warming Solutions Act’s (AB32) guidance, the ROW recommends that California allow states or countries that reduce their total emissions from deforestation below an historical average to generate compliance credit in California.

“The ROW is forging new ground, developing a first-of-its-kind, gold standard set of recommendations for how to do REDD right and ensure that it delivers real benefits to indigenous communities and fights climate change. I am pleased to participate in this critically important workshop,” said Steve Schwartzman, Director of Tropical Forest Policy at Environmental Defense Fund.

The ROW also recommends requiring states to show that they have made their own efforts to reduce deforestation, beyond any reductions that they seek credit for and ensuring that local – particularly indigenous – communities participate in policy design, have a choice about whether or not to participate in programs, and benefit directly if they do.

Deforestation and forest degradation currently account for nearly 20% of the world’s annual greenhouse gas emissions. The goal of ROW is to lead efforts to reduce the impacts of climate change, recognizing it will require significant global cooperation to lower greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation.

Draft Recommendations from the REDD Offset Working Group are now available for public comment and will be accepted through April 30. 

The workshop was co-hosted by UC Davis Policy Institute for Energy, Environment and the Economy, Environmental Defense Fund, The Nature Conservancy, IPAM International Program and Green Technology Leadership Group.

A full list of today’s speakers and agenda can be found here.

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REDD+ Offset Working Group ( was established in February 2011 as a result of a Memorandum of Understanding signed in November 2010 as part of a collaborative effort between the Governors of California, Chiapas and Acre to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (known as “REDD+”) and create policies to provide economic incentives for forest conservation by placing a value on living forests and their ecosystems.