PES-Indigenous Community Development

Indigenous Community Development: Implications of Payments for Ecosystem Services

Abstract: In 2011, the province of British Columbia agreed to equally share revenues from forest carbon offset projects with coastal First Nations in the Great Bear Rainforest. Since that time, the project has evolved to become one of the most significant in the world. It is the largest ecosystem service project area and the second largest source of carbon emissions reductions in the world. Global financial markets are rapidly emerging to value natural systems. From clean water to forests and biodiversity, these systems contribute to economic development and human well-being. Traditionally, we have borrowed these ‘ecosystem services’ from nature or taken them for free, but increasingly, markets are emerging that put a price and value on these resources. For instance, the forest carbon programs from the United Nations (REDD+) and the World Bank (FCPF) aim to safeguard the rights of indigenous populations while developing mechanisms that enhance greenhouse gas storage and capture from improved forestry practices.

Our goal is to examine how the global policy objective of climate change mitigation and adaptation can be achieved in a manner that is consistent with the rights and interests of indigenous peoples. By studying the implications of forest carbon projects for indigenous peoples in British Columbia, this research will inform the development and implementation of best practice in forest carbon and ecosystem service projects with appropriate social and environmental safeguards.

Our research focuses on three key questions:

1.How do potential and actual markets for carbon and related ecosystem services, mediated through non-indigenous institutions, impact the institutional frameworks and property rights of indigenous communities?

2.How might the financial benefits of these markets and programs affect social and economic conditions in indigenous communities and the local environment?

3.What are institutional design requirements that ensure that global demand for carbon sequestration occurs in a manner that ensures indigenous peoples benefit from their interactions with international carbon and ecosystem service markets?

UBC Collaborators: Gary Bull, Janette Bulkan, James Tansey, Verena Griess

UBC Students: Tonya Smith

Funding: Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council