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Wildlife Works' Involvement in the Southern Cardamom REDD+ Project

Media inquiries:  please email us at media at willdlifeworks . com 

(non media requests sent to this email will not be answered and should be sent through our contact form)


Feb 26, 2024


As many may already be aware, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has been investigating the Southern Cardamom REDD+ Project. We would like to emphasize our recognition of the important role organizations like Human Rights Watch can play in advancing human rights globally. However, that role is not served unless the work is founded in truth, a deep understanding of the issues and the realities on the ground for the projects and the communities whose rights can otherwise be harmed.


We have been keeping key stakeholders aware of the investigation and following Wildlife Alliance's evidence-based rebuttals to HRW's accusations. Wildlife Alliance has addressed and refuted the findings thoroughly in Wildlife Alliance’s Open Letter


Firstly, we stand behind the impact that SCRP has achieved in a very complex and high threat

environment. As described in Wildlife Alliance’s Open Letter, SCRP has generated tremendous

positive, verified impacts for communities, wildlife, the forest ecosystem, and the climate, and

is strongly supported by local communities.


HRW has also attempted to accuse Wildlife Works of contributing to the allegations through Wildlife Works Carbon’s technical and financial support of the SCRP. We strongly refute this.  


As a technical consultant with no staff on the ground during project implementation and project management during the timeframe of HRW’s investigation, it is not logical to hold Wildlife Works responsible for project activities that happened at SCRP. Wildlife Works was hired to ensure that the project was compliant with the standard and that is the job we fulfilled. 


Because we are technical consultants contracted by Wildlife Alliance and do not have a communication agreement with the project proponent, the Royal government of Cambodia, we are not authorized to respond to HRW’s specific allegations regarding human rights violations at SCRP. 


Our formal consulting role in the Southern Cardamom REDD+ Project (SCRP) has been that of technical adviser since 2017. After an informal advisory period that started in 2012 we conducted site visits in 2017 ahead of becoming a technical adviser. The proof of both conservation and community impact we witnessed despite the challenging political environment prompted us to offer the needed financial support in 2018 to keep the project going and bring it to REDD+ project validation. 


In addition to biomass measurements, WWC supported WA by providing training on free, prior, and informed consent (FPIC). WWC used the Training of Trainers method, where WWC team members trained lead WA and MOE staff, and in turn, they trained other WA and MOE staff. WA staff, in collaboration with MOE staff, then conducted the FPIC consultations, SBIA meetings, and biomass and biodiversity surveys, and collected the data. The data was then sent to WWC staff in the US to collate into the project design, validation, and verification reports. WWC’s long-term role in the SCRP is to support the technical aspects of the project and writing of the reports. Wildlife Works never had employees in Cambodia staffed at SCRP during any period covered by HRW’s investigation. All SCRP staff are either from WA or MOE.  


In August 2023, as part of WWC’s renewed commitment to working with Wildlife Alliance and

our wider support for Indigenous Peoples and local communities, we placed a WWC Cambodia

staff member to be stationed on the ground at SCRP to increase our visibility of SCRP activities.

This person’s role is Community Conservation Liaison. In collaboration with Wildlife Alliance,

the WWC staff member has assisted in creating a community-engagement strategy to manage

community conflicts and grievances between MOE staff and community members. As part of

this collaboration, Wildlife Works Carbon’s Cambodian team has also been conducting

extensive interviews with members of the Chorng Community to document their cultural

heritage, which includes Chorng settlement history, language, cultural norms, as well as former

and current leadership and governance structures.


Wildlife Works are recognized experts in FPIC for community based forest carbon projects and our FPIC methodology is consistent with international human rights standards and reflects best practice standards on the rights of Indigenous Peoples. We not only uphold the standards and laws required, but are actively involved in the global efforts to ensure that REDD+ truly works for IPLCs (our support for Peoples Forests Partnership for example). As such, we are extremely conscious of holding ourselves and those we engage with to the highest standards. 


See our project development principles on our website  and in our best practices guide for DRC, summarized here


HRW first reached out to us about this investigation in October of 2022. We have been cooperative and responsive to their queries. Copies of our latest correspondence are below:



Wildlife Works Letter


Wildlife Works Letter




Letter


Letter


Screenshot of Emails

Screenshot of Emails

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