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CDM Watch meets with grassroots activists in Gujarat, India (Newsletter #16)

A meeting for local stakeholders was organised in Gujarat by Indian NGO Paryavaran Mitra to respond to the CDM Executive Board’s call for public input on the validation process. At the meeting CDM Watch launched the new ‘Gujarat Forum on CDM’, a communication platform that aims to improve grassroots groups’ collaboration and their access to information about CDM projects and processes. CDM Watch also took the opportunity to visit communities near a CDM project.

On 12th August 2011, a successful one-day stakeholder workshop was held in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India. Located in India’s north west, Gujarat is the country’s industrial ‘armpit’ and the state with the highest number of CDM projects The meeting was organised by Paryavaran Mitra, an Indian NGO with a long track record of scrutinising CDM projects and the development of environmental regulations in Gujarat. For many years Paryavaran Mitra and CDM Watch have been cooperating to speak out against problematic CDM projects and their implications for the poor and marginalised in the context of one of the fastest growing economic hubs of India.

The stakeholder meeting was held in response to the recent call for public input on validation by the CDM Executive Board. More than 50 participants attended including: CDM Watch, CDM practitioners, Gujarat government officials, academics, environmental activists, local people and students. Participants welcomed this opportunity to discuss current CDM stakeholder rules to provide a submission to the CDM Executive Board in the context of their local experiences with CDM projects. During the meeting many participants repeatedly expressed doubts about the CDM being a fair mitigation mechanism but welcomed the opportunity to share their experiences and provide input on how to improve the stakeholder consultation process.

To support grassroots groups in Gujarat, Paryavaran Mitra created the Gujarat Forum on CDM. The Forum was officially launched during the meeting by CDM Watch as a new platform for civil society to share their local experiences and to be informed about and participate in the CDM. The Forum’s objective is to start collaboration between Gujarat-based organisations and to make the CDM process more inclusive, participatory and accountable. The Forum will disseminate information to a large audience regarding new and existing CDM projects and also act as a watchdog for policy developments in the CDM, in India with a special focus on Gujarat.

Despite the intense monsoon rain and the long distances, many rural stakeholders travelled to the meeting. The meeting was very successful, not just as a networking and collaborating opportunity but as a step forward to encourage local stakeholders to raise their concerns about CDM projects and to highlight the importance to participate in local and international decision-making processes.  In the meeting, participants unanimously observed that the flaws in the CDM remain acute and that its effectiveness as a tool towards sustainable development is questionable. NGOs, affected communities, policy-makers and academics therefore reiterated their willingness to cooperate further, address flaws and safeguard civil society’s effective participation in the process.

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