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What is sustainable development?

In 2016 I arranged a visit to the meridional Amazon to learn about sustainable development and how it actually works. My attention was drawn to the Green Economy debate during the Paris talks in December 2015 where I met with indigenous delegations from North and South America.

Myself and Chief Raoni Metuktire of Brazil's Kayapó Tribe

I travelled to Brazil in 2016 to meet with the same individuals and their families and to visit carbon sinks to find out more about how policy is being used to tackle deforestation. One of my main goals was to learn more about REDD on the ground.

What is REDD?

REDD or REDD+ is an experimental UNFCCC policy which stands for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation.

Carbon sinks are areas of forest that are selected for preservation, some of which are home to indigenous people. The amount of carbon sequestered by the trees is calculated and dubbed as compensation for carbon offset elsewhere. Companies that are conscious of their carbon footprint often pay for what is known as "carbon credits" in order to finance this activity.

There have been pilot REDD projects executed in various Amazonian territories however the Brazilian government is not a partner of the UN-REDD programme itself and some of REDD's most sceptical opposition are indigenous people themselves.

Contrary to the belief that locals lack knowledge and must have knowledge brought to them, I sought out their knowledge and asked their opinion on what was being done. What I most liked about this trip was that although it was naïve and poorly planned, no one was paying me to ask the questions I asked or to provide their side of the story. Of course some people thought that’s exactly what I was doing; and I don’t blame them. In front of a camera people only say so much, especially when they are targeted by their own government.

I did take videos on this trip but for my own sake I preferred to hear people’s answers one to one, as I knew that at that time there was little likelihood of me getting sponsored to make a film. I have created a series of interviews from this journey entitled Carbon Diaries. Watch this space for updates on carbon credits, REDD and indigenous rights.

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