Dear People of the State of California;

Dear Honorable Jerry Brown, Governor of California;

Dear Mary Nichols, Chairman, California Air Resources Board;

Dear Ashley Conrad-Saydah, Assistant Secretary for Climate Policy, California Environmental Protection Agency; 

Dear Arsenio Mataka, Subsecretary for Environmental Justice and Tribal Affairs, California Environmental Protection Agency; 

Dear La Ronda Bowen,Ombudsman, California Environmental Protection Agency;

The No REDD in Africa Network writes you to express our adamant rejection of the inclusion of REDD in the State of California’s Global Warming Solutions Act, AB32.

Outraged by the rampant land grabs and neocolonialism of REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest degradation), Africans at the World Social Forum in Tunisia on March 28, 2013 took the historic decision to unite against REDD colonialism and to join the global movement against REDD by launching the No REDD in Africa Network. 

As you know, REDD+ is a carbon offset mechanism whereby the State of California is already using forests as supposed sponges for its pollution instead of reducing greenhouse gas emissions at source.

Major California polluters like oil giants Chevron[i] and Shell[ii], which have caused horrific destruction in Africa, and in the case of Shell, the ecocide of the Ogoni environment, are already doing REDD to greenwash their image and shirk their responsibility to cut emissions. Despite being renowned for its environmentalism, the State of California, by doing REDD, becomes an accomplice to climate criminals and flagrant violators of human rights like Shell and Chevron.

In Africa, REDD+ is not just a false solution to climate change but is emerging as a new form of colonialism, economic subjugation and a driver of land grabs so massive that they may constitute a continent grab.[iii]REDD-type initiatives to try and grab 30% of the forests of the Democratic Republic of Congo[iv] and almost 20% of the total surface area of Mozambique[v] have been detected. We launched the No REDD in Africa Network to defend the continent from precisely the carbon colonialism that the State of California is proposing.

In the UN-REDD Framework Document, the United Nations itself admits that REDD could result in the “lock-up of forests,” “loss of land” and “new risks for the poor.”[vi]

As the UN predicted, in Africa, REDD and forest carbon projects are already resulting in “loss of land” in the form of massive evictions, as well as “new risks for the poor” in the form of  servitude, slavery, persecutions and killings.

REDD originally just included forests but its scope has been expanded to include soils and agriculture. Members of the La ViaCampesina, the world’s largest peasant movement, are concerned that REDD projects in Africa could threaten food security and could eventually cause hunger.

A recent Via Campesina study on the N’hambita REDD project in Mozambique found that thousands of farmers were paid meager amounts for seven years for tending trees, but that because the contract is for 99 years, if the farmer dies his or her children and their children must tend the trees for free.[vii] This constitutes carbon slavery. Nonetheless, the N’hambita project was celebrated by the UN on the website for Rio+20, the Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro last year.[viii] The last thing Africa needs is a new form of slavery.

According the The New York Times, over 22,000 farmers with land deeds were violently evicted for a REDD-type project in 2011 and Friday Mukamperezida, an eight-year-old boy was killed when his home was burned to the ground.[ix]

REDD is already contributing to the persecution and criminalization of activists, including in Cross River State, Nigeria where the State of California intends to have REDD projects. Odey Oyama, Executive Director of the Rainforest Resource and Development Centre (RRDC) in Cross River State, Nigeria suffered police harassment and intimidation and had to flee his home for several weeks in the months of January and February 2013 for opposing REDD activities (aimed at extracting more forest estates from indigenous communities) and other similar land grab operations (e.g. for large scale plantation farming). “One of the activities placing me in confrontation with the Cross River State Government of Nigeria is my stand against the REDD programme. My reason for rejecting the REDD programme is because it is geared towards taking over the last vestiges of community forest that exist in Cross River State of Nigeria,” denounced Mr. Oyama.

In other parts of Africa, REDD is exacerbating threats to the cultural survival of Indigenous Peoples. Despite Amnesty International’s recommendation to “stop immediately the practice of forced evictions,”[x]as Kenya’s Mau Forest is made “ready” for a UNEP-funded REDD+ project, members of the Ogiek People continue to suffer violent evictions, and Ogiek activists are attacked for protesting land grabs.[xi] Minority Rights Group International includes the Ogiek People in their list of “Peoples Under Threat” from genocide, mass killings or violent repression[xii] and this latest wave of evictions could threaten the cultural survival of the Ogiek People. 

According to “The DRC Case Study: The impacts of carbon sinks of Ibi-Batéké Project on the Indigenous Pygmies of the Democratic Republic of Congo” published by the International Alliance of Indigenous and Tribal Peoples of the Tropical Forests, Batwa Pygmies suffer “servitude”[xiii]on the World Bank Ibi-Batéké Carbon Sink Plantation.[xiv]An employee of the project says “this must not be understood…as if it were slavery.”[xv] This REDD-type forest carbon plantation for fuel wood and charcoal is the DRC’s first Clean Development Projectand claims to contribute to sustainable development and climate change mitigation.[xvi]However, Pygmy leaders have repeatedly denounced the World Bank for funding deforestation of their ancestral forests which not only releases emissions but also violates their rights, leads to the destruction of their livelihood and causes social conflict.[xvii] Furthermore, according to “Advance Guard” published by the United Nations University,[xviii] “Indigenous Peoples’ rights, experiences, and cultural and spiritual traditions are being ignored. Nothing to ensure the Pygmy’s preliminary consent, which was mandated within the framework of the project, has been done since consultation began.”

The People of Africa appeal to Californians, Governor Jerry Brown and the California Air Resource Board to heed our plead and reject REDD. California, make the historic decision to stop REDD, a false solution to climate change, in in its tracks. Do not let your misguided attempts to cut pollution cause land grabs and human rights violations in Africa. We are counting on you to see the light.


Nnimmo Bassey

Co-Founder of the No REDD in Africa Network

Alternative Nobel Prize Laureate

Executive Director of HOME, Nigeria

Tel: +234 803 7274395


Anabela Lemos

Director of JA ! Justiça Ambiental!/Friends of the Earth Mozambique

Rua Marcono 110, 1st floor

Tel : +258 21 496668



The Honorable Jerry Brown, Governor of California 

c/o State Capitol, Suite 1173 

Sacramento, CA 95814 

c/o: Clifford Rechtschaffen, Senior Advisor

Mary Nichols 

Chairman, California Air Resources Board 

1001 I Street, Sacramento, California 95812

Ashley Conrad-Saydah

Assistant Secretary for Climate Policy 

California Environmental Protection Agency 

1001 I Street, Sacramento, California 95812


Subsecretary for Environmental Justice and Tribal Affairs 

California Environmental Protection Agency 

1001 I Street, Sacramento, California 95812

La Ronda Bowen 


California Environmental Protection Agency 

1001 I Street, Sacramento, California 95812

Jason A. Gray 

Staff Counsel, California Air Resources Board 

1001 I Street, Sacramento, California 95812

[i]PBS/Frontline World, Carbon Watch, Centre for Investigative Journalism REDD Monitor, Injustice on the carbon frontier in Guaraqueçaba, Brazil Mother Jones, GM’s Money Trees National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institute, Washington, DC, Fall 2011 Conversations with the Earth Rainforest Movement, Forest carbon project in Paraná, Brazil: Reduction of deforestation and persecution of local communities

[ii] Shell to buy 500,000 California forest carbon credits

REDD Monitor, (2010) Shell REDD project slammed by Indigenous Environmental Network and Friends of the Earth Nigeria

[iii] According to Point Carbon, “The mere prospect of deforestation credits being recognized in a new US climate bill has been enough to spark a REDD land grab in Central Africa.” Point Carbon, Firms Targets US Buyers with African REDD credits, 20 July 2009

[iv]Democratic Republic of Congo:   “Lars Ekman, a senior adviser in NORAD, has spent 10 years in Africa including two years in Kinshasha where he supported and facilitated PwC’s November 2011 corruption report. At a seminar in Norway in 2012, Ekman told the following story to show that “corruption threats are very real” for REDD in DR Congo:“One Sunday morning in Kinshasa, I was asked by a person to come and meet him and pick up a brown envelope. There was no money in there, but a very interesting document that this person wanted to have action upon. It was a draft contract between a known businessman in Kinshasa and the government, the Ministry of Forestry and Environment. The contract proposal was a 25 year monopoly right to market carbon offsets from an area of 50 million hectares, which is about one-third of the forest area of Congo.”’

[v]AlertNetIsildaNhamtumbo Senior Researcher, Forest Team, Natural Resources Group, September 27,  2011 “REDD+ is now driving a race for land in Mozambique.”

[vi]UN-REDD Framework Document, , p. 4-5 A Poverty Environment Partnership (PEP) Policy Brief, Based on the report “Making REDD Work for the Poor”, (Peskett et al, 2008) PEP includes UNDP, UNEP, IUCN, OCI, SIDA, ADB, DFID, WCMC For footnotes and complete textual citations of UN documents: See Earth Peoples REDD Brochure 

[vii]Mozambique : Carbon Trading and REDD+: farmers ‘grow’ carbon for the benefit of polluters:

REDD Monitor Envirotrade’s carbon trading project in Mozambique: “The N’hambita experiment has failed”

[viii] Rio+20 United Nations Commission on sustainable Development

[ix] The Guardian, (2011) Ugandan farmer: ‘My land gave me everything. Now I’m one of the poorest’ The Wall Street Journal, (2011) African Land Acquisitions Comes Under Scrutiny

New York Times, (2011) In Uganda, Losing Land to Planted Trees – Slide Show

New York Times, In Scramble for Land, Group Says, Company Pushed Ugandans Out

REDD Monitor, Ugandan farmers kicked off their land for New Forests Company’s carbon project

[x]Amnesty International: Kenya: Nowhere to Go: Forced Evictions in Mau Forest“Incidents of forced evictions have been reported in different areas of the Mau Forest since 2004, affecting thousands of families.” 

[xi]See: International Working Group on Indigenous Affairs (2011), Kenya’s ‘Forest People’ in Bitter Fight for their Ancestral Homes, April 15 2011.
Minority Rights Group International (2011), Minority Rights Group Condemns Targeted Attacks on Ogiek Activists, March 7, 2011.
First Peoples International (2011), In new Kenya, old guard ‘land-grabbers’ attack key leaders -Ogiek land activists survive assaults.
Interim Coordinating Secretariat, Office of the Prime Minister on behalf of the Government of Kenya, Rehabilitation of the Mau Forest Ecosystem.
Los Angeles Times (2010), Kenyan tribe slowly driven off its ancestral lands.
Survival International (2010), Kenyan tribe’s houses torched in Mau Forest eviction 8 April 2010.
REDD Monitor (2009), Ogiek threatened with eviction from Mau Forest.

[xii] The Standard

[xiii]International Alliance of Indigenous and Tribal Peoples of the Tropical Forests, “Indigenous Peoples and Climate Change: Vulnerabilities, Adaptation, and Responses to Mechanisms of the Kyoto Protocol,” (2007) Makelo, S., “The DRC Case Study: the impacts of carbon sinks of Ibi-Batéké Project on the indigenous Pygmies of the Democratic Republic of Congo” p.45-74 especially 62-64 The human rights violations against Pygmies are grave throughout the country. See “Pygmies beg UN for aid to save them from Congo cannibals”

[xiv]World Bank DRC IbiBateke Carbon Sink Plantation” World Bank documents claim no Indigenous Peoples affected on pages 4 and 8 million dollar investment from World Bank Carbon Finance: Forest Carbon Inventory Project

[xv]International Alliance of Indigenous and Tribal Peoples of the Tropical Forests, “Indigenous Peoples and Climate Change: Vulnerabilities, Adaptation, and Responses to Mechanisms of the Kyoto Protocol,” (2007) Makelo, S., “The DRC Case Study: the impacts of carbon sinks of Ibi-Batéké Project on the indigenous Pygmies of the Democratic Republic of Congo” p.64

[xvi]Reuters: World Bank to buy carbon credit from Congo Project

[xvii]World Bank Inspection Panel – Request for Inspection from Pygmy Organization for harm caused by World Bank funding to forestry sector in DRC

[xviii]McLean, Kristy Gallowy, “Advance Guard, Climate Change Impacts, Adaptation, Mitigation and Indigenous Peoples”, p.45