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Suriname is, with 93% forest cover, the most forested country in the world. While deforestation and forest degradation have been historically low in Suriname, it is a challenge to enhance the country's economic development while maintaining this unique position. To achieve the ambitious goal of remaining a High Forest cover and Low Deforestation (HFLD) country without limiting economic growth and social welfare, the National Development Plan for 2017-2021 endorses REDD+ as a tool for sustainable development and declares that a national REDD+ vision and strategy will be designed in 2017.

As the technical coordinator of REDD+ in Suriname, the National Institute for Environment and Development in Suriname (NIMOS) has initiated a participatory multi-stakeholder process to collect input to develop the REDD+ vision and strategy. The consultation process involves a broad range of ministries and government institutes, civil society organizations, NGOs and the private sector, but that is not enough.

UNFCCC Decision 1/CP.16, paragraph 72, requests REDD+ countries to "ensuring the full and effective participation of relevant stakeholders, inter alia indigenous peoples and local communities" when developing and implementing their national REDD+ strategies or action plans. In May 2017, Suriname started a consultation process to gather qualitative input especially from indigenous and tribal communities for the development of the National REDD+ Strategy.

Suriname is home to around 550,000 people, of which 60,000 - 70,000 are indigenous or tribal. The majority of the population lives in the coastal area, especially in the only city of Suriname, Paramaribo, while the forested interior of the country is fairly inaccessible with limited infrastructure. Indigenous and tribal communities practicing traditional lifestyles are spread out across the country, many living in villages only reachable by boat or from the air.

In such a context, it is challenging to engage all forest-based communities sufficiently, and it took two redrafts before Suriname's REDD+ Readiness Preparation Proposal (R-PP) was approved in 2013. This time around, Suriname had made progress in formulating its R-PP as a result of joint efforts to reach out and involve key rights holders, in particular, its indigenous and tribal communities.

 

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The R-PP process gave birth to an innovative participation mechanism called the REDD+ Assistants Collective (RAC). 17 REDD+ Assistants, assigned by the traditional leaders of their respective indigenous or tribal communities, are members of the RAC. Each REDD+ Assistant is trained to serve as a bridge between their own local community and the national REDD+ program and to facilitate culturally appropriate engagement and communication. Since Suriname's R-PP was adopted in 2013, at least 530 individuals from 63 Indigenous and Tribal villages across Suriname have been informed about REDD+ in general and what it could mean to communities, about the relationship between forests and climate change, and about the National Forest Monitoring System.

These information sharing sessions were organized as a collaborative effort between the national government and the RAC. This is now followed up by a targeted process to collect input from indigenous and tribal communities to develop the National REDD+ Vision and Strategy, through a methodology developed by Asesoramiento Ambiental Estrategico (AAE) and carried out by Tropenbos International-Suriname. In the past months the following consultations took place: the Kaliña and Lokono people of the North-East and North-West, the Trio people of the South-East, the Saamaka people of the Upper Suriname River area, the Kwinti people of the West, and the Aluku people of the Upper Marowijne River (South-East).

During each consultation, community members engaged in focus group discussions to share their vision of the future, social and environmental issues, perception and prioritization of Drivers of Deforestation and Forest Degradation and Barriers to REDD+ (DDFDB+), and their view on how Policies and Measures (PAM's) might affect them. Throughout the consultation process, a gender responsive approach is incorporated to ensure an inclusive process and, in each location, it is strived to involve youth, women and men.

Finally, this current consultation of various indigenous and tribal communities should result in their concerns, perceived risks, needs and expectations being incorporated in the National REDD+ Strategy for Suriname. The completed REDD+ Vision and Strategy for Suriname should be beneficial to all stakeholders and is expected to be finalized by October 2017.

 

For more information, contact Sara Svensson, REDD+ Officer in Suriname: 

 

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