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Restoration and Payment for Environmental Services in Ethnic Group Territories in Colombia

Blog | Mon, 10 Feb, 2020 · 6 min read
Restoration and Payment for Environmental Services in Ethnic Group Territories in Colombia

During the development of Colombia’s Strategy for the Integral Control of Deforestation and Forest Management in 2018, indigenous organizations prioritized reducing deforestation and restoring degraded areas in their territories. This was also a key area of focus in discussions around the new National Development Plan (2018 - 2022), wherein the national government and indigenous organizations agreed upon the design and implementation of a National Restoration Programme for indigenous peoples in pilot areas of the Amazonia, Orinoquia, Pacific and Caribbean regions. The national objective is to restore 301,900 hectares, a portion of which will take place in indigenous territories.

These national objectives are aligned with Colombia’s current international commitments and global initiatives on restoration. A new Joint Declaration of Intent, recently signed by Colombia, Germany, the United Kingdom and Norway for 2020 to 2025 incorporates, as one of its key milestones, the restoration of 200,000 hectares, including indigenous territories. Addressing these national and international objectives during the next few years will involve great challenges for Colombia, especially in facilitating interventions in ethnic territories where socio-economic and cultural issues are fundamental.

With the aim of contributing to the achievement of these objectives, the UN-REDD Programme supported the national government of Colombia and indigenous peoples’ organizations in the design of a National Restoration Programme. The first dialogue between the Environment and Development Ministry and other government and non-government entities took place in November, 2019, and promoted the establishment of a common understanding of the processes and lessons learned about this issue. The following recommendations were highlighted by the participants:

  • consider the approach and restoration concept from an indigenous perspective ;

  • involve and ensure participation of traditional authorities and all members of the community during the planning and implementation process; establish ecological, social and cultural criteria to prioritize the areas where restoration will take place;

  • consider the use of species of high cultural value;

  • improve cartographic information on indigenous reservations for the prioritization of restoration areas; and,

  • look for financial sustainability for the restoration programme aiming to involve the private sector in these processes.

The Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development is expected to start a dialogue and development process for the National Restoration Programme in early 2020, in collaboration with national indigenous organizations on priority areas for restoration and criteria for intervention.

Along with the National Restoration Programme, the objectives established in Colombia’s National Development Plan include the design of a national payment of Environmental Services Programme for the preservation, restoration and conservation of paramos, forests, jungles and strategic zones in indigenous territories. This additional national objective was also recently included in the new Joint Declaration of Intent, wherein a special emphasis was made on the development of Payment for Environmental Services (PES) in indigenous territories for 2020.

With the aim of informing the development of this PES Programme in indigenous territories, the UN-REDD Programme supported an exchange of experiences between the governments of Colombia, Costa Rica and Guatemala in December, 2019. The objective was to understand the processes and lessons learned by each country in the design and implementation of this type of program. It is expected that during the first half of 2020, the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development will start the dialogues and agreements with indigenous peoples’ organizations to reach an agreement on the roadmap for a joint development of PES and the National Restoration Programme.