By Sue Silverman
Maureen F. Tehan, Lee C. Godden, Margaret A. Young, and Kirsty A. Gover, The Impact of Climate Change Mitigation on Indigenous and Forest Communities: International, National and Local Law Perspectives on REDD+ (Cambridge University Press, 2017) 415 p. Hardcover $147.00
REDD+ is a global program that encourages countries to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation through financial incentives. In The Impact of Climate Change Mitigation on Indigenous and Forest Communities: International, National and Local Law Perspectives on REDD+, the authors, Maureen F. Tehan, Lee C. Godden, Margaret A. Young, and Kirsty A. Gover, closely examine the structure, frameworks and safeguards of REDD+, and how REDD+ has developed and operates alongside other international and national legal regimes and norms, with the primary objective of assessing its impact upon the legal interests of indigenous peoples and forest dependent communities.
The book is divided into four parts: Part I discusses REDD+ within the international context and explores its interaction with other international legal regimes and norms. Part II looks at how REDD+ interacts with indigenous communities at the national level, and Part III examines these regime interactions within the contexts of three countries: Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, and Vanuatu. Part III also analyzes climate change mitigation programs undertaken in Australia in order to draw lessons that may be applied to REDD+ programs. Part IV summarizes the authors’ findings and conclusions and offers recommendations for moving forward and additional scholarship.
Part I begins by characterizing REDD+ as an emerging international legal regime and providing an overview of the laws and decision-making procedures established by the UNFCCC, the Paris Agreement and the Kyoto Protocol that are associated with REDD+. The authors then discuss the key participants including the United Nations Program on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (UN-REDD), the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) based within the World Bank Group, and other nonstate actors such as civil society groups, academics, the private sector and policy makers who support the functional goals of REDD+. The following chapters examine how REDD+ interacts and conflicts with other international legal regimes such as the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna, the International Labor Organization, Convention No. 169, the CBD Nagoya Protocol, and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, as well as norms established by customary international law. The authors suggest that these horizontal regime interactions at the international level, along with vertical interactions between international and domestic legal regimes, impact the rights and interests of indigenous peoples.
Part II focuses on REDD+’s interaction with sovereign states and indigenous peoples. Here, the tangible conflicts presented by REDD+ programs come into focus as the authors unpack the intricacies and challenges of aligning REDD+ and the benefits conferred by REDD+ with indigenous property rights under statutory and customary law, indigenous identity law, and the normative obligation of obtaining free prior and informed consent (FPIC). Because FPIC is integral to REDD+’s relationship with indigenous and forest dwelling communities and how those communities’ rights and livelihoods are impacted by REDD+ projects, a significant portion of Part II is devoted to examining this norm and how it is applied by UN-REDD and the World Bank’s FCPF, the two main funders of REDD+. Part II also focuses heavily on tenure rights and REDD+’s emphasis on “secure and clear” tenure, a policy which favors those who currently possess land. Ultimately, despite its intentions to include indigenous and forest-dependent communities within decision-making processes and benefit-sharing, those whose property rights are not recognized under national law or who are on the short end of the balance of power equation vis-à-vis the state or third parties with possessory or usufructuary rights, are inevitably left out of any benefit sharing or FPIC processes under REDD+.
Part III examines how the vertical and horizontal regime interactions discussed in Parts I and II play out in three country examples: Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, and Vanuatu, and looks at the successes and shortcomings of climate change mitigation projects undertaken in Australia in how they account for the rights of indigenous communities. To help understand the local context within which REDD+ operates, the authors describe the history of land law and forest resources law, as well as the laws determining the recognition of the rights of indigenous peoples and local forest communities in each country. From these examples, the authors suggest REDD+ may draw lessons moving forward in how it might resolve conflicts between indigenous rights and the goals of climate change mitigation.
In their conclusion, the authors emphasize that “the unresolved legal claims of indigenous peoples are deeply context-specific and must be interrogated at the local level.”  For REDD+ to successfully promote the rights and livelihoods of indigenous populations while pursuing its goals of climate change mitigation, it must provide guidance in resolving domestic disputes regarding indigenous claims. In so doing, “attention to historic injustice, dispossession, the non-recognition of indigenous law, and the social and economic marginalization of indigenous and forest communities is essential.” 
With its detailed exploration of how REDD+ touches upon myriad issues of international and domestic law including customary law, property and resource rights, and indigenous identity, this book is an excellent resource for academics, policy makers and attorneys exploring ways in which to balance the goals of climate change mitigation programs with the rights and interests of indigenous peoples, and how to incorporate indigenous communities into REDD+ or other climate change mitigation projects. For example, the authors suggest that indigenous and local community carbon rights may be better framed as resource rights instead of rights tied to tenure, in order to promote the receipt of benefits among groups who are unable to establish “secure and clear” tenure, or who are dispossessed of their traditional land as a result of the formalization of tenure under national laws. The authors also describe opportunities for indigenous involvement in climate change mitigation projects, for example the savanna-burning activities based on traditional Aboriginal land burning practices in Australia.
As the authors point out, “REDD+ is not a straightforward win-win approach to climate change mitigation,” but at the same time, “just and effective climate change mitigation must incorporate the perspectives of those who are affected by it and not merely those who have the resources to address the problem (and may be implicated in the causes of that problem).” Thus “unwieldy and complex” is just as it should be.
 Maureen F. Tehan, Lee C. Godden, Margaret A. Young, and Kirsty A. Gover, The Impact of Climate Change Mitigation on Indigenous and Forest Communities: International, National and Local Law Perspectives on REDD+ (Cambridge University Press, 2017)
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 Id. at 352.