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Marcelo Santos Rocha da Silva


Marcelo Santos Rocha da Silva is a University of California’s Bonnie Reiss Carbon Neutrality Initiative Fellow (2021-2022) and PhD student in Management of Complex Systems at the University of California, Merced. He also holds an M.A. Latin American Studies (Tropical Conservation and Development) from the University of Florida (2020). From 2005 to 2018, Marcelo worked on policymaking and international development cooperation projects in Bolivia, Brazil, Ghana, Haiti, Honduras, and Mozambique. His research interests are systems thinking, political ecology, Indigenous environmental and climate justice, and settler colonial studies applied to jurisdictional (state-centered) approaches to REDD+ in the Amazon region.



Jurisdictional approaches to REDD+ (JA REDD+) have become the top response to avoid forest carbon emissions, framed by the UN FCCC negotiations as an international financial mechanism to reward primarily countries (not companies, communities, or individuals) for their efforts in reducing deforestation and forest degradation. As a state-centered response to climate change and deforestation, JA REDD+ measure and remunerate carbon sequestration within a territory under the jurisdiction of a specific political entity, such as a country, subnational state, or province. Although the state occupies a privileged position in defining the terms of land use, planning the territory, and recognizing and ensuring rights, critical analyses are encouraged, considering the historical role of the state in incentivizing deforestation drivers and violating collective rights of forest-dependent communities. My argument is that JA REDD+ might recognize, respect and protect some rights of forest-dependent communities, but jurisdictional approaches are also an instrument of state building and territorialization, which threatens Indigenous goals of decolonization and self-determination. I draw on perspectives of political ecology, Indigenous environmental justice, and settler colonial studies to question the benefits of historically anti- Indigenous states centralizing REDD+ payments and leading economic transformations in tropical forests. I use the example of Acre, an Amazonian state in Brazil, to illustrate some of the contradictions and risks entailed in jurisdictional approaches. In doing so, I intend to contribute to the advancement of settler colonial studies applied to Latin America, and particularly to the Brazilian Amazon, where Brazilians – not the Portuguese – have been the leading actors of colonization.


Affiliation: University of California, Merced, USA