Indigenous peoples and local communities, a recognized puzzle piece for climate crisis solution

Since its inception, the UN-REDD Programme has advocated for inclusive, gender-equitable policy formulation and decision making for national and sub-national REDD+ processes. This approach is based on the recognition that the people who live within or in close proximity to forests, and whose livelihoods depend directly on forests, are best positioned to protect and sustainably manage them. To share these perspectives, the UN-REDD Programme in collaboration with the Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact and the Tenure Facility organized a discussion on “Making climate action inclusive”, a side event at the Global Landscape Forum (GLF) held in Bonn on 22 June 2019. The session gathered eleven panel members representing right-holders and development practitioners who shared experience and lessons learnt and was moderated by Serena Fortuna, FAO REDD+ Forestry Officer and a co-leader of the “REDD+, forest tenure and the rights of indigenous peoples” UN-REDD knowledge component.

Divided into 3 panels, the session looked at inclusiveness of climate action from different angles underlining emerging opportunities in climate policy and finance to achieve climate mitigation commitments while further advance in enhancing the rights of Indigenous peoples (IPs) and sustainable livelihoods.

The first round of exchanges highlighted the importance of strengthening knowledge (including knowledge of one’s right) and technical skills of both women and men in local communities and IPs areas. The participants noted that the construction and strengthening of multi-stakeholder platforms become essential in giving space for governments, communities and IPs to create a common vision to maintain ecosystems and its functions.

The second panel discussed some of the emerging lessons from IPs and communities’ engagement in REDD+ strategies and implementation. Advancing the rights of IPs in forested landscapes is tied to their participation not only in the planning phase but also in the implementation of plans, actions and reforms towards reducing deforestation and forest degradation.

The third panel reflected on essential elements to make climate action inclusive, such as the establishment of policy instruments that prioritize IPs’ and local communities’ critical role in sustainable forest management, improved local livelihoods and, ultimately, effective response to the climate crisis. The participants also expressed how various donors and funds are requesting clear information on how stakeholders agreed on benefit sharing and on future joint implementation for continued emission reduction prior to disbursing potential results-based payments/incentives.

The session brought a note of hope, highlighting a shift of perspective observed in several countries throughout the first decade of REDD+. Previously only seen as observers, IPs and local communities have become right-holders and active participants in the process. Enhanced inclusiveness and engagement became increasingly visible – thanks also to re-adjustments learning from earlier mistakes - in the readiness phase, entering in implementation and moving towards results’ phase. The importance of continued capacity strengthening, establishing and consolidating multistakeholder platforms, bridging governments with communities (women and men) as well as facilitating the dialogue among different land-use sectors and private investors were some of the key factors that led to country successes featured during the session. REDD+ represents an opportunity for IPs and local communities to improve the dialogue with the governments in regards to enhanced and more secured forest and land tenure. Looking at REDD+ with a landscape approach might support the country moving towards integrating forest conservation and agricultural development goals. IPs and communities play a key role in reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation – contributing to the fight against climate change while securing livelihoods and sustainable development. Yet, clear agreements among communities and governments on carbon rights and benefit-sharing need to be reached, to be ready for the time when the country will achieve results in emission reductions and potentially receive results-based payments or incentives.

Amid the growing momentum, the attention, dedication and political commitment of countries and development practitioners in continuing strengthening IPs’ and communities’ capacities and securing tenure rights in an overall system of good governance need to continue. When we talk about advancing in REDD+ as a nature-based solution to fight climate change or about contributing to achieve Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and to enhance livelihoods, everybody has a stake and a responsibility.

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Serena Fortuna

FAO Forestry Officer

Co-leader of the UN-REDD knowledge component on “REDD+, forest tenure and the rights of indigenous peoples”

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