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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. Eleven panel members including right-holders and development practitioners shared experiences and lessons learnt, moderated by Serena Fortuna, co-leader of the “REDD+, forest tenure and the rights of indigenous peoples” UN-REDD knowledge component and FAO REDD+ Forestry Officer. The session looked at inclusiveness of climate action from different angles also underlining emerging opportunities in climate policy and finance to further advance in enhancing the rights of Indigenous peoples (IPs).

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Strengthening knowledge, boosting dialogue and engagement: REDD+ as an opportunity.

The first round of exchanges[1] highlighted the importance of strengthening knowledge (including knowledge of one’s rights) and technical skills of both women and men in local communities and IPs areas). The experiences of Myanmar demonstrated that Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) should be at the basis of the REDD+ process paving the way for enhanced engagement and inclusion of communities and IPs. “For us, rights are more important than REDD+, but thanks to our engagement in REDD+ we progressed in ensuring our rights as well”, said Ms Naw Ei Ei Min. Talking from the UN-REDD Programme’s perspective, Ms Celina Yong, reflected on examples of the contributions the initiative brought towards successful inclusion of communities and IPs in REDD+ processes (Nigeria featured video). She highlighted the shift in how the world perceives IPs in land-use and forest conservation and management, from passive stakeholders to right-holders, that became progressively evident. As Mr Leif John Fosse clearly stated, this increasing level of engagement and collaboration brought us to a key junction in which both IPs and governments share a common vision of maintaining ecosystems and their functions, for the good of society as a whole and as a key nature-based solution to combat climate change. This momentum was made possible thanks also to the construction and strengthening of multi-stakeholder platforms, that are spaces for governments, communities and IPs to strategize REDD+ processes together. This upcoming decade needs to offer continuity and even enhancement of secure and safe spaces for IPs to demonstrate solutions to land use management – at the international level the Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Platform (LCIPP) of the UNFCCC offers a key opportunity in this regard.

Emerging lessons from IPs and community 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 members of the second panel[2] shared emerging examples, evidence of successes as well as challenges and lessons learnt.

The case from Ecuador demonstrated how the efforts to create a common ground between all relevant stakeholders helped the country to achieve a solid strategy for successful and sustainable implementation of REDD+ activities. This strong and transparent process, linked to the progress on other key REDD+ elements, allowed Ecuador to reach important milestones including the mobilization of USD 53 million from the Green Climate Fund (GCF) and the Global Environment Facility (GEF) for the “ProAmazonia” programme, a forerunner REDD+ implementation programme.

Both right-holders and development practitioners highlighted the importance of advancing in land titling and securing tenure rights (including collective tenure rights) as a key factor to ensure successful implementation of REDD+.  Presenting evidence of Peru’s progress on this aspect, Mr Lizardo Cauper also stressed the importance of listening, reflecting and acting on the recognition of IPs’ rights as a real commitment that goes beyond political speeches and towards a common goal. There was a  short presentation on the upcoming UN-REDD “Collective tenure rights: Realizing the potential for REDD+ and sustainable development” technical brief, and it was emphasized in the presentation as well as by the panel that efforts to support land titling and securing collective tenure rights would be most successful if part of a larger initiative to improve land and forest governance. Expanding on other related key contributions of IPs in reducing deforestation, Mr Rangel of Colombia’s National Indigenous Organization (ONIC) highlighted the role of IPsas “forest guardians”, promoting monitoring and enforcement of protection regulations as another central aspect for long-term success of REDD+. He also stressed the importance to continue with capacity strengthening to couple traditional knowledge with innovative cutting-edge technology.

Solutions for reducing deforestation do not come only from within the forest sector, but often from integration and collaboration among different land-use sectors. Engagement and active collaboration among different stakeholders in this context is primarily important. Reflecting on this, Ghana show-cased its commitment to a vision for REDD+ that takes into consideration the entire landscape and the actors that live within it or that have an impact on it. Inclusiveness and engagement of local communities and IPs should be an important part of every country’s efforts to achieve sustainable and integrated development of its territories. With this approach, Ghana is making important progress on inclusive and transparent integrated land-use planning that favours sustainable cocoa-sector development – as one of the sectors bringing a high level of investment to the country – while enhancing livelihoods and respecting the environment. “Everybody has a stake, voices of each stakeholder must be heard, it’s a concerted effort. Tree tenure rights need to be strengthened, to give more motivation to farmers” stressed Ms Roselyn Adjei.

From implementation to results: further reflections on essential elements

48110007898 44812be838 oThe third and the final panel[3] 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, improve local livelihoods and, ultimately, mount an effective response to the climate crisis.

Reflecting  on the significant progress Mexico has made on the issue, the Red Mexicana de Organizaciones Campesinas Forestales (MOCAF) detailed the environmental and social benefits linked to REDD+ and highlighted the important discussions that need to be had between governments, communities, and IPs to define benefit-sharing mechanisms, also entering into the domain of carbon rights: given that emission reduction results be achieved, payments or incentives would be received by the country, whereupon decisions and agreements on this aspect would have important impacts. Without a proper stakeholder agreement on rights and benefits sharing, REDD+ success and sustainability would be at risk of being undermined. The panel also expressed how current 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 disburse potential results based payments/incentives. Ms Grace Balawag continued the discussion by explaining the IP Policy of the GCF. The policy was adopted in 2018 and the operational guidance for the implementation of this policy is being currently developed. Ms Balawag stressed that the IP Policy is a useful instrument to facilitate dialogue between IPs and governments, and emphasized the policy’s potential in dealing with national designated authorities and Accredited Entities to the GCF.

Concluding remarks

The session brought a note of hope, highlighting a shift of perspective observed in several countries throughout the first decade of REDD+. Previously seen only as observers, IPs and local communities have become right-holders and active participants in the REDD+ process. Enhanced inclusiveness and engagement became increasingly visible – thanks also to re-adjustments after learning from earlier mistakes – right through from the readiness phase, into implementation and moving towards the results phase. The importance of continued capacity strengthening and establishing and consolidating multi-stakeholder platforms for facilitating dialogue between governments and communities (considering both women and men) as well as among different land-use sectors and private investors, were highlighted during the session as some of the key factors that led to country successes. REDD+ represents an opportunity for IPs and local communities to improve dialogue with governments with regards to enhanced and more secured forest and land tenure. A landscape approach to REDD+ might support countries in 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 countries 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 to strengthen IPs’ and communities’ capacities and securing tenure rights in an overall system of good governance needs 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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[1] Panel 1 members: Mr Lakpa Nuri Sherpa, Environment Programme Coordinator for Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP), Chiang Mai, Thailand; Ms Naw Ei Ei Min, Promotion of Indigenous and Nature Together (POINT), Myanmar; and Member of the Counsel, AIPP; Mr Leif John Fosse, Lead specialist on Indigenous Peoples, Norwegian International Climate and Forest Initiative (NICFI), Norway; Ms Celina Yong, Regional advisor & social inclusion specialist for Asia/Pacific, UN-REDD Programme

[2] Panel members: Mr Felipe Rangel – Territorial Counsellor, Colombia's National Indigenous Organisation (ONIC); Mr Juan Carlos Jintiach – Pueblo Shoar de la Amazonia Ecuatoriana, active member of the REDD+ committee /  mesa nacional REDD+ in Ecuador; and member of the Coordinator, International Economic Cooperation & Autonomous Indigenous Development, COICA; Mr Lizardo Cauper – President, Asociación Interetnica de desarrollo de la selva peruana, AIDESEP, Peru;  Ms Nonette Royo, Executive Director, The Tenure Facility; Ms Roselyn Adjei, Director of Climate Change, Forestry Commission, Ghana, UN-REDD Executive Board

[3] Panel members: Mr. Gustavo Sánchez – Red Mexicana de Organizaciones Campesinas Forestales (MOCAF), Mexico; Ms. Grace Balawag – Coordinator, Climate Change, Tebtebba. Indigenous Peoples' Representative a.i., UN-REDD Executive Board.

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