Reports & analysis
UN-REDD Programme in Latin America: highlights on recent dialogue with civil society
The success of REDD national processes will depend on the engagement of all national stakeholders. In Latin America and elsewhere, the UN-REDD Programme is engaging in regular dialogues with indigenous and civil society representatives to educate, inform and respond to—sometimes vivid— concerns. Below are two summaries of these discussions, in Bolivia and El Salvador.
On 29 October 2009, the UN-REDD Programme was invited to make a presentation at a meeting organized by the Confederation of Indigenous Peoples of Bolivia (CIDOB), the Coordinator of the Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon Basin (COICA), and the Forum on Readiness for REDD.
The national-level workshop was the last one in a three country series that had started in Colombia, followed by Ecuador, and that ran from 26 to 31 October. Aimed at raising awareness of REDD for indigenous peoples, the workshop included two days on education on climate change and REDD; one day of dialogue with representatives of government, the private sector, and multilateral organizations engaged in REDD, such as the UN-REDD Programme and the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF); and a day for strategy building.
The national-level workshop was followed by a two-day technical workshop organized by Woods Hole Research Center scientists to provide a basic course on forest maps and monitoring, map creation and interpretation, and a field exercise to learn basic measurement techniques for ground-based carbon inventory.
The UN-REDD Programme was represented by Ms. Karen Arleth from UNDP Bolivia. On a panel with the National Coordinator of the National REDD Team Mr. Edgar Arias, and representative of the National Climate Change Programme in Bolivia Mr. Carlos Fuentes, Ms. Arleth first exposed the current status of the development of the UN-REDD Bolivia Programme and the country’s plans for COP15. She detailed the UN-REDD Programme framework for engagement of indigenous and forest-dwelling communities, and outlined ways in which the UN-REDD Programme and the FCPF work together on the readiness process.
The indigenous and local community representatives took the opportunity to express their support for the UN-REDD Programme. An initial skepticism arising from concerns relating to the need to clarify how, if at all, benefits proceeding from REDD will reach communities on the ground prompted an engaged discussion. Addressing the government representatives, the audience underlined the need to institute an adequate consultation process with indigenous and local stakeholders throughout the readiness process. The conversation concluded with a reiterated joint commitment by the UN-REDD Programme and government representatives to the continued involvement of indigenous peoples in the REDD readiness process.
Two weeks later in Salvador, the UN-REDD Programme participated in the Mesoamerican Dialogue on REDD: Implications for Forest Communities, organized by the Coordinating Association of Indigenous and Community Agroforestry in Central America (ACICAFOC), the Bank Information Center (BIC), and the Salvadoran Research Programme on Development and the Environment (PRISMA). Held over five days, the workshop brought together leaders from indigenous and farmer organizations in Central America, as well as government, donor and multilaterals’ representatives to further the dialogue and understanding on social and environmental considerations in developing national REDD plans.
Mr. Gabriel Labbate, the UN-REDD Programme Focal Point for Latin America and the Caribbean at UNEP, gave an overview of the Programme and its mechanisms for ensuring genuine participation of indigenous and forest-dwelling communities in UN-REDD Programme activities. Mr. Labbate, together with representatives of the National Coordinating Body of Indigenous Peoples of Panama (COONAPIP)—the indigenous organization that worked alongside the Environment Ministry (ANAM) in the drafting and approving of the National Programme—reported on the recent experience of elaborating the Panama UN-REDD Programme. Both parties made it clear that COONAPIP had agreed to come to the table and engage in a dialogue but also recognized there are a number of issues that need to be resolved, such as ownership of carbon; security of land titles in many parts of Panama; and benefits for communities that conserve the forest. All recognized that although there are no easy answers at the moment, the commitment to dialogue and to proceed towards solutions together is strong.
While a majority of participants were rather skeptic about REDD, the discussion was marked by dialogue and nuanced perspectives, centred around three main topics. First, there are shared suspicions on whether REDD will allow forest communities to continue earning a living from forest resources. Some participants however expressed the alternative perspective that REDD would allow communities to maintain their way of living since REDD wouldn’t require to stop all activities, but rather that the mosaic of activities in a given track of forest maintains a certain carbon stock over time. Second, many are concerned about whether REDD would take away land rights from communities, although a minority view emerged that considered REDD as a potentially effective tool to ensure that forest communities strengthen their claims to land. Finally, it was often expressed that REDD was providing an easy “way out” for developed countries, sparring them of their obligations to reduce emissions. Others argued that given the level of reductions necessary to stabilize emissions and avoid dangerous climate change, and the contribution of land use changes to total emissions, REDD alone could not provide developed countries with the level of reductions required to meet all of their expected obligations.
All in all participants recognized the genuine effort undertaken by the UN-REDD Programme to include indigenous and forest-dwelling communities and civil society in the design, decision-making and implementation of the REDD national programmes. Furthermore, it is understood that these programmes are seriously committed to supporting pro-poor forest conservation policies and to responding to a variety of long standing demands of indigenous and forest-dwelling communities as, for example, the strengthening of their rights to land and their rights to manage the resources under their formal or informal jurisdictions.
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