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A journey around CDM projects in India (WT)

JuleIn February 2014, I went to India to collect research on Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) projects in India and their sustainable development benefits. During my 3 month stay, I had the pleasure to work together with Indian organizations and activists and found that a well-organized network, strong collaborations and awareness raising are the most important indicators for successful civil society work.

CDM shortcomings and chances

Following a dual purpose, the CDM was designed to bring sustainable development to developing countries and to enable industrialized countries achieve emission reductions in the most cost effective way. However, what has been written many times, and what I have found during my research trip is that besides a number of good projects, numerous CDM project activities do not bring sustainable development to the host countries and can have harmful effects on the local population as well as negative impacts on the environment. Best example for the latter observation is the Sasan coal power project in Singrauli, India, which has severe negative influences on the locals and the nature (see Clean felling people and laws of the land in this edition).

Major shortcomings of the current CDM regulations are missing monitoring systems for claimed benefits and grievance mechanism for affected communities and individuals for the more than 7300 projects registered to date.

In 2014, the modalities and procedures of the CDM will be reformed, offering a unique opportunity for civil society to advocate for improved regulations.

Therefore, Carbon Market Watch organized a civil society workshop on land rights in India to create a platform for information exchange and to intensify collaborations between network members with different expertise. This workshop as well as the collection of research during my stay in India underlined the need for a strong civil society to lobby for the necessary reforms in the CDM in the upcoming climate negotiations.

Civil society workshop in Pune

From 20-22 February, Carbon Market Watch together with Indian civil society organizations gathered at a workshop to discuss the impacts carbon markets may have on land rights in India. For the workshop, more than 50 participants from all over India came together to exchange information on various topics related to land rights and to identify synergies for future activities and lobby work. Highlighting current shortcomings and experiences with climate mitigation projects in India as well as providing an overview of the different expertise of network member groups, most important outcome of the workshop was the agreement to strengthen partnerships and synergies between participating groups. The quality of future civil society work and the effectiveness of lobbying work can only profit from intensified collaborations.

Working with Indian NGOs

After the workshop, I had the pleasure to work together with many of the Indian groups that have already done research on CDM projects. On my travels from Ahmedabad to Delhi as well as Mumbai and Singrauli, I met numerous local groups with strong campaigns challenging negative effects on CDM projects on the environment and local population. The work of the members of the India network is inspiring and provides the necessary awareness on the effects of the CDM in India.

I found that it is of utmost importance to make use of the good work of network members that are already established and to further strengthen collaborations and to increase synergies between groups with expertise in different subject matters. Using the expertise available will thereby improve the effectiveness of lobby work. Consequently, strengthened linkages and sharing information to build up capacity among the civil society are important drivers for successful reforms in the CDM as well as future climate negotiations. Therefore, simple tools like the mailing list, conference calls or workshops should be made use of to guarantee the most qualitative civil society work possible.

The civil society workshop held in Pune 2014 focused on the impacts carbon market might place on land rights in India with special regard to the effects of the CDM and other offsetting mechanisms on common lands and marginalized groups. Various topics were covered such as biodiversity, legal regulations and experience with CDM projects and the agricultural sector. The project participants agreed to establish a compliance working group, to develop a best practice document on public hearing and to specifically work on monitoring of sustainable development benefits.


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