News

Indigenous Leaders from Mesoamerica, Africa and Peru Participated in a Climate Change Negotiation Workshop

A few months before COP27 and as part of its strategy to strengthen the capacities of Indigenous Organizations around the world and catalyze holistic self-development, the FSC-IF developed a training workshop on climate change negotiation.

Panama City, Panama. Nearly 50 Indigenous leaders from 20 countries in Mesoamerica, Africa, and South America participated in a virtual workshop on climate change negotiation.

The goal of this workshop was to provide a formative space to strengthen organizations’ capacity to ensure the protection and promotion of Indigenous Peoples’ rights.

A few months before the Climate Change Summit COP 27, to be held in Sharm El Sheik in Egypt from 6 to 18 November, Indigenous Peoples’ organizations must prepare themselves to be able to directly advocate for their economic, social, cultural, collective, and territorial rights.

In response to this need, the IPARD Program seeks to contribute to ensuring consistent and long-term technical, organizational and management capacity building, with the aim of empowering Indigenous Peoples as actors to engage and collaborate with the public and private sectors to co-create solutions that produce mutual benefits.   

“The knowledge I acquired will be useful for other Indigenous Peoples when I train them before the COP. Moreover, during the negotiations and the subsequent implementation of the convention, the Kyoto Protocol, and the Paris Agreement, this knowledge will contribute to the improvement of the living conditions of Indigenous Peoples,” said one of the participants, Severin Sindizera, National Project Coordinator for the Partnership for Integration and Sustainable Development in Burundi.

The climate change negotiation workshop was structured in three participatory sessions conducted under the guidance of Eduardo Reyes, climate change expert, and the IPARD Program team of the FSC Indigenous Foundation. The Mesoamerican Alliance of Peoples and Forests (AMPB), the Indigenous and Local Peoples’ Network for the Sustainable Management of Forest Ecosystems in Central Africa (REPALEAC), the Indigenous Peoples of Africa Coordinating Committee (IPACC) and the RUZBUMET Foundation supported and participated in the workshop.

The workshop addressed topics related to the context of the negotiation spaces, the main regulations concerning Indigenous Peoples and forests, the contributions of Indigenous territories and countries, and recommendations on initiatives to make visible the contributions of forests in Indigenous territories to mitigate climate change in countries’ NDCs (Nationally Determined Contributions).

The negotiators’ workshop has been a very important training space. As a young gunadule woman, it has helped me to learn about and affirm several issues that are important in climate change negotiations. For example: processes, the actors in the processes, the advocacy that we must do, the negotiating groups and coalitions that exist in the different countries, and the importance of the NDCs,” said Jocabed Solano from the Guna People of Panama and Co-Director of Memoria Indígena.

Climate Change Negotiation Training

The first session featured a presentation on the United Nations Climate Change Conference including its itinerary, hierarchical structure, and the main mechanisms for structuring the thematic agendas and decision-making in the official sessions of the parties. Indigenous Peoples’ organizations learned in detail about the functioning of this advocacy space to be able to prepare their interventions to reach key audiences with national and international influence.

The second session focused on the main actors and coalitions involved in the climate negotiation process to clarify the dynamics of the official debates. Issues such as representation, organization of blocks and coalitions by country, region and priorities were covered. One of the most relevant topics of this session was the clarification of the process that Indigenous Peoples organizations must follow in order for their needs and proposals to be considered in this space. Eduardo Reyes explained that although Indigenous Peoples do not have an official representation space among the parties, they can influence this space through the agendas of national governments, which is why it is important to carry out sustained advocacy work in each of the territories.

The third session focused on analyzing the international commitments ratified by the countries and their relationship with Indigenous Peoples, with special emphasis on the Paris Agreement and its subsequent instruments. The analysis considered the environmental, social, and economic implications and impacts for Indigenous Peoples in scenarios of compliance and non-compliance with the main agreements. During the presentation, Eduardo Reyes stressed the importance of carefully analyzing each of the instruments in order to prevent negative impacts on Indigenous Peoples and organizations, especially those belonging to the Global South.

The second part of the third session included the participation of Marcial Arias Medina from the Guna People, and Edgar Correa from the Mayan community of Belize, experts on the implementation of the decisions that must be made and the steps that must be taken to carry out the analyses requested by the Warsaw REDD+ Framework, in line with the Paris Agreement. The experts presented topics related to the instruments and tools available to elaborate measurements and reports that highlight the contributions of Indigenous Peoples to the processes of climate change adaptation and mitigation.

During their presentations, Marcial and Edgar emphasized the importance of data and evidence. This information allows negotiators to understand the elements and techniques they need to support their discussions, as many decisions are made based on data and scientific information.

For more information see the full workshop below, available in English, Spanish, and French.

Climate Change and Indigenous Peoples

Indigenous Peoples manage a quarter of the world’s land surface and their territories are home to resources vital to the survival of humanity and the planet, and are sources of global solutions to climate change and carbon cycle management.

Despite their global importance, Indigenous Peoples are some of the most affected by climate change. Their territories are suffering the consequences of extreme climate phenomena such as droughts, floods, forest fires, changing agrarian cycles that cause food scarcity, and shortages of medicines derived from forests and plants.

In addition, Indigenous territories are threatened by extractive, agro-industrial, and infrastructure activities that are some of the largest global sources of emissions that cause deforestation and pollution. According to figures presented by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), “gas emissions from human activities are responsible for approximately a 1.1°C increase in temperature in the period from 1850 to 1900.” Increased human activities, such as those mentioned above, will contribute to the climate crisis and temperature increase.

Throughout history, Indigenous Peoples have successfully coped with various crises, including climate phenomena, based on their traditional knowledge and practices. As a result, a number of studies have been undertaken to identify the key to dealing with the crises affecting the world. According to research published in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, the recognition of Indigenous Peoples’ rights is vital for conserving forests and tackling global warming. The same research revealed that 36% of intact forest landscapes are found in Indigenous territories and remain standing beacause of their traditional knowledge and practices.

“The survival of humanity is linked to the respect we show towards nature; by destroying nature, humans are destroying themselves, because we are part of nature,” said one of the workshop participants, Adolphe Bope Bope Kwete, focal point for Pygmy Dignity (DIPY) in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The environmental, social, and economic impacts of climate change put communities, territories and forests at risk, which is why IPARD held this negotiation workshop with the aim of enabling leaders to promote their rights. According to Dina Juc, from the Maya Quiché people of Guatemala, responsible for the Human Rights area of the Mesoamerican Alliance of Peoples and Forests (AMPB), “These tools help people to have concrete data and to present themselves with greater confidence when negotiating. This allows the Indigenous leaders who come to the negotiation space to have a strong support and base.”

News

The FSC Indigenous Foundation Launches the “Indigenous Voices” Podcast

“Indigenous Voices” is a podcast produced by the FSC Indigenous Foundation, dedicated especially to highlight the vision and perspectives of the Indigenous Peoples of the world.

banner promo indigenous voices

Panama City, Panama. The FSC Indigenous Foundation is launching the “Indigenous Voices” podcast as part of its work to recognize the global value of Indigenous Peoples, their rights, livelihoods, territories, and natural capital. Indigenous leaders and experts on Indigenous Peoples from around the world participate in this podcast and share their thoughts on the main issues faced by Indigenous Peoples, as well as their relationship with the conservation of forests and other natural ecosystems, cultures, biodiversity, and life on the planet.

In each episode, we listen to their experiences, opinions, analyses, and proposals related to the global issues we face as human beings.

In the first episodes, we learn more about the work of the FSC Indigenous Foundation, the Indigenous Peoples Alliance for Rights and Development (IPARD) Program, and the co-creation of long-term sustainable solutions to guarantee the Indigenous Peoples’ rights and catalyze their holistic self-development in the context of increasing global environmental challenges to the planet and to their territories, rights, knowledge, and values. We talk with leaders and experts from Sweden, New Zealand, Brazil, and Peru.

We present the first episodes of “Indigenous Voices” below. 

Episode 1 – Indigenous Peoples: A Light in the Darkness

In the first episode of “Indigenous Voices”, Anders Blom, a member of the Sámi People of Sweden, Chairman of the FSC Indigenous Foundation Board, and Former President of the Protect Sápmi Foundation,  will share his reflections on the main challenges that Indigenous Peoples around the world are facing and how the FSC Indigenous Foundation is addressing these challenges at many levels.

“One of the most important characteristics of the work done by the FSC Indigenous Foundation is the recovery of Indigenous Peoples’ values. Values that are repeated in communities around the world and that can be replicated to protect the planet.”

Anders Blom

In addition, Anders will provide specific recommendations for donors, investors, and companies to join efforts and coordinate joint actions with Indigenous Peoples to address the climate crisis.

The episode will also feature Anders’ analysis of the global commitment to invest $1.7 billion to fight and mitigate climate change involving the effective participation and leadership of Indigenous Peoples.

Listen to the first episode here. 

Episode 2 – Our Connection with Nature

promotional content indigenous voices episode 3 with Te Ngehe

The second episode of “Indigenous Voices” will explore the millenary relationship of Indigenous Peoples with nature and how this harmonic connection based on reciprocity has managed to conserve the natural resources essential for the survival of humankind.

Te Ngaehe Wanikau of the Maori People of New Zealand and alternate member of the FSC Permanent Indigenous Peoples Committee will explain the connection between Indigenous Peoples and nature, and analyze the importance of understanding this relationship to meet the goals of sustainable development and face the climate, health and food crises.

“By taking care of the Earth, the Earth will take care of you, if you take care of people, people will take care of you. Just as the gods protect the environment, water, forests and lands, we humans have a responsibility to take care of them as well.” Te Ngaehe Wanikau

In addition, this episode also shares the key to co-create successful solutions for governance and management of Indigenous territories and natural resources.

Listen to the second episode here.

Episode 3 – Transforming the World

promotional content indigenous voices episode 3 with Francisco Souza

In the third episode of “Indigenous Voices,”  Francisco Souza, member of the Apurinã People of the Brazilian Amazon and Managing Director of the FSC Indigenous Foundation, will share his experience of more than 30 years building and leading initiatives related to Indigenous Peoples, forests, sustainable development, climate change, business development, climate change, finance,  and the environment in more than 40 countries.

Additionally, he will tell us his story and the motivations that led him to become the Managing Director of the FSC Indigenous Foundation and to drive the co-creation of long-term solutions based on the vision, values, and ancestral knowledge of Indigenous Peoples,

as well as the innovative approaches of the Indigenous Peoples Alliance for Rights and Development (IPARD) to promote the rights of Indigenous Peoples, strengthen their capacities, and catalyze their holistic self-development through innovative businesses and partnership models.

“Indigenous Peoples are willing to share their holistic vision of caring for nature with the world; the time has come to establish a dialogue between the different sectors so that Indigenous Peoples can guide us towards a balance with the Earth. To this end, the rights of Peoples to self-determination, non-violence, free prior and informed consent protocols, and to conserve their territories must be respected.” Francisco Souza

Listen to the third episode here.

Episode 4 – Speak to the World

promotional content indigenous voices episode 4 with Tabea Casique

In the fourth episode of “Indigenous Voices,” we speak with Tabea Casique, Indigenous leader of the Asháninka People of Peru, Coordinator of the Education, Science and Technology Area of the Coordinator of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon Basin (COICA) and member of the FSC Permanent Indigenous Peoples Committee representing South America.

This episode shows how the promotion of education, science and technology are the key elements to strengthen Indigenous organizations as well as to promote the creation of innovative solutions focused on the needs of Indigenous Peoples.

Women’s participation from the communities is not visible. However, they contribute a lot from their communities, accompanying them with communal and organizational work in defense of territories and forests and Indigenous governance.Tabea Casique

Listen to the fourth episode here.

News

The Rights of Nature and Indigenous Peoples: Challenges Towards Sustainable Development

The FSC Indigenous Foundation participated in the “First Regional Forestry and Sustainable Landscapes Congress” seeking to build a joint multisectoral agenda to combat the climate crises by the sustainable management of forests and biodiversity through the vision and needs of the Indigenous Peoples and local communities.

Panama City, Panama. The “First Regional Forestry and Sustainable Landscapes Congresswas held in Panama City from April 6 to 8. This event was part of a regional strategy to build a joint multisectoral agenda to combat climate change, to promote the sustainable management of the forests and biodiversity, and encourage innovative solutions to conserve nature and generate benefits for the local and Indigenous communities. 

The Mesoamerican Alliance of Peoples and Forests (AMPB), the Central American Integration System (SICA), the Central American Commission for Environment and Development (CCAD), and the Ministry of the Environment of Panama led this initiative.

The technical and financial support for the event was provided by the FSC Indigenous Foundation (FSC-IF), the Indigenous Peoples Alliance for Rights and Development (IPARD) and other organizations and cooperation agencies, such as Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI), Climate and Land Use Alliance (CLUA), the Ford Foundation, Forest and Farm Facility (FFF), Forest Trends, the Prisma Foundation and Rainforest Foundation US.

This space for dialogue, reflection, and co-creation allowed to determine the challenged and opportunities Mesoamerica has by aiming to join forces to structure a course of action that includes and positions the vision of Indigenous Peoples and local communities as the main ax in all forest and biodiversity conservation strategies, so that countries in that region manage to achieve their goals and commitments established during international agreements.  

Various modules occurred during the event that let the public know the mesoamerican reality, as well as the diverse proposals and successful experiences. As a result, the discussion on the importance of Indigenous Peoples and local communities participation in the management and forests conservation, biodiversity and other resources was deepened.

  • First Regional Forestry and Sustainable Landscapes Congress

    Levi Sucre, Coordinator of the Mesoamerican Alliance of Peoples and Forests (AMPB), Sara Omi, President of the Mesoamerican Coordinating Committee of Women Territorial Leaders and Victor Francisco Cadavid, National Forestry Director of the Ministry of Environment of Panama, spoke at the opening of the event, emphasizing the importance of the space and highlighting the role of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities.

    “We Indigenous Peoples and local communities have a lot to contribute and we contribute from being guardians of the forests. We contribute to the knowledge of how we interact and live in the forests,” said Levi Sucre, coordinator of the AMPB.

    In turn Sara Omi Sara, noted: “As women, we are concerned about and work on multiple challenges such as food security, the rescue of traditional knowledge and the transmission of that knowledge”. 

    Additionally, Francisco Souza, Director of the FSC Indigenous Foundation, highlighted the relationship of Indigenous Peoples with nature and the importance of their inclusion in the implementation of national policies and laws.

    In this sense, Franciso Souza pointed out, “The importance of this discussion on the rights of Mother Nature is an important starting point to also think about the rights of Indigenous Peoples.”

    Mauricio Mireles, FAO Policy Officer for Indigenous Peoples and Social Inclusion for Latin America and the Caribbean, opened the discussion with an introductory presentation in which he highlighted the contribution and challenges of Indigenous and forest communities in the protection of Mesoamerican forests. In his presentation he emphasized: “If we understand that there is effectiveness in ancestral knowledge, we understand why native peoples are the main defenders. If we do not support the protection that people do, we cannot expect conservation to continue.” 

    The first module addressed the coordination of public policy for forest conservation, economic development and climate change adaptation and mitigation. Here the successful experiences of some organizations in the region were presented. The following is a detail of the discussion.

    Marcedonio Cortave, Executive Director of the Association of Forest Communities of Petén (ACOFOP) highlighted the contributions of Petén’s forest communities to the conservation of the Maya Biosphere Reserve, stressing that community governance is the basis for sustainable forest management. During his speech, Cortave stated: “It is the communities that have maintained the forests. Why? Because they are their livelihoods. They cannot be protected without the contribution of those who inhabit those areas.” 

    Sagladummad Anibal Sanchez, representative of the Guna General Congress, presented the achievements and challenges of the Integral Plan of the Indigenous Peoples of Panama, emphasizing the importance of linking the traditional knowledge of Indigenous Peoples in different areas, as a strategy to generate sustainable development models that include the needs and priorities of the communities, in this sense he emphasized: “Indigenous knowledge must be preserved and disseminated through education, in the areas of health, intercultural bilingual education and forest management.” 

    Amalia Hernández, President of the Federation of Agroforestry Producers of Honduras (FEPROAH), stressed the importance of generating strategic alliances to promote community forestry in her country, underscoring the need to listen to proposals from the communities that are on the front line of defense and action for the protection of forests.“The grassroots communities are and have always been the protectors of the forests. Therefore, we continue to advocate that we should be heard,” she said.

    The second module of the Congress focused on the challenges of building a fair forestry market and respecting the rights of Indigenous and local communities. The experiences of organizations from Mexico, Honduras and the FSC were presented.

    Gustavo Sánchez Valle, President of the Mexican Network of Peasant Forestry Organizations (MOCAF Network), presented the experience of community forest governance in Mexico and its relationship with legal timber. He stressed the importance of establishing national and international spaces for dialogue to create the necessary conditions to legalize the legal timber trade, “The legality of timber is a complex issue where different ministries of a country must participate and there must be cooperation between countries, so it is important that it is discussed in these spaces,” said Sánchez Valle.

    During his presentation, Donaldo Allen, representative of Unity of La Moskitia (MASTA), highlighted the importance of community forest governance in Honduras as well as the inclusion of traditional knowledge in all processes: “Within the framework of respect, we must frame ourselves in a double manner: How we organize and coordinate traditional knowledge with academic knowledge without imposition.” 

    This module also featured the participation of Zandra Martínez, President of the FSC Board of Directors, who made an important contribution as a commentator on the panel. During her intervention she emphasized that the experiences presented show that there are great opportunities for the region. She also emphasized that FSC is a market tool available to Indigenous Peoples that has proven its effectiveness in communities in Guatemala and Mexico.

     

  • The FSC Indigenous Foundation and the IPARD Program as facilitators in the co-creation of long-term innovative solutions

    As part of the work carried out by the FSC Indigenous Foundation and the IPARD Program so that Indigenous Peoples around the world can manage their territories and generate their own development models, the event entitled “The Rights of Nature and Indigenous Peoples: Challenges for Sustainable Development” was organized within the framework of the “First Regional Forestry and Sustainable Landscapes Congress”.

    “The heart and vision of the strategy for IPARD is to promote cooperation and collaboration between different sectors to best support and, indeed, create or co-create long-term solutions together with and for Indigenous Peoples around the world.” Francisco Souza, Director of the FSC Indigenous Foundation. 

    Learn more about IPARD 

    The panel held on Thursday, April 7, deepened the discussion on the challenges and opportunities facing Panama for the implementation of the recently approved Law 287, which seeks to safeguard and promote the rights of nature.  This event highlighted this milestone as a first step for the implementation of regulations and actions necessary for conservation that contemplate the vision and needs of Indigenous Peoples and local communities.

    Juan Diego Vásquez, Deputy of the National Assembly of Panama, who drafted the proposal of Law 287, pointed out that one of the achievements of this law was “To include some specific norms and conventions for Indigenous Peoples who have dedicated themselves since many centuries ago to the protection and conservation of the environment.”

    Similarly, other experts invited by the Foundation highlighted the valuable role of Indigenous Peoples and local communities so that this innovative Law, approved by the Panamanian Government last February, will transform the country’s reality and become the beginning of a great strategy aimed at promoting the socioeconomic development of the communities.

    In the words of Victor Cadavid, National Forestry Director of the Ministry of Environment of Panama, “a regulation like this in our country is essential to underpin the socio-economic development towards the future, to be able to have rights over nature will indicate a protection, a greater safeguard that should be born definitely a direct participation of the Indigenous communities.”  

    According to Diwigdi Valiente, Head of Sustainability for Panama Tourism, it is necessary to open a space to discuss, manage questions and generate answers that allow: “to build a road map that identifies good practices and the main problems” in order to create economic development proposals for the Indigenous Peoples and Communities of the country.

    Similarly, Valeria Torres Larranaga, Governance Affairs Officer (ILPES) / CEPAL, provided a comprehensive perspective on the problems, proposals and future outlook on this issue of local, regional and global relevance. During his presentation, he said: “Indigenous Peoples, who have a close relationship with nature, have a worldview that is essential for establishing climate change mitigation and adaptation measures and for addressing the reality of the climate crisis we are currently facing.”

    Constanza Prieto Figelist, Latin America Legal Lead of the Earth Law Center, pointed out that the recognition of the rights of nature in several countries of the region creates links that allow connecting human rights with the rights of nature. Regarding the specific case of Panama, she points out that: “This law establishes a bridge between human rights and the recognition of the rights of nature, since in Latin America, constitutions normally only recognize the right to a healthy environment, and opens the door to ecological recognition, to the recognition of the intrinsic value of nature.” 

    For more information, we invite you to watch the complete event.

  • Context of Indigenous Peoples and the challenges of the Mesoamerican regional agenda

    The Indigenous and local communities of Mesoamerica influence approximately 50 million hectares of forests that host 8% of the world’s biodiversity and store 47% of the region’s forest carbon stocks.

    In this region there are about 5 million people who depend on forests. 

    These communities face diverse pressures and threats that jeopardize their lives and the permanence of vital forests to confront the climate crisis.

    One of the main threats is the narco-deforestation that plagues Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. According to several studies, this phenomenon generates a loss to an average of between 15% and 30% of forest loss in these three countries. Additionally, in the same countries, Indigenous and local community leaders are persecuted, criminalized and murdered for defending the Earth from this and other threats. According to the latest report presented by Global Witness, in 2020 there were 42 murders of nature defenders and most of them were Indigenous or community leaders.

    The same report states that in Mexico, 30 lethal attacks against land and environmental defenders were documented in 2020, registering a 67% increase over 2019. Logging was linked to nearly a third of these attacks, and half of all attacks in the country were directed against Indigenous communities.

    This harsh reality coupled with structural inequality, the effects of climate change and the effects of the health crisis have placed Indigenous and local communities in a situation of multiple and extreme vulnerabilities.

    As a result, the regional multisectoral agenda, backed and supported by the FSC Indigenous Foundation, the IPARD Program, and other strategic allies, is facing diverse challenges  of various natures, but also present an opportunity to build an effective course of action that allows to co-create innovative solutions from the front line communities’ perspective so that they can generate benefits in economic, environmental, social and cultural terms for the countries, Indigenous Peoples, local communities, and the private sector shareholders committed to the sustainable development.

First Regional Forestry and Sustainable Landscapes Congress

News

The Rights of Nature and Indigenous Peoples: Challenges Towards Sustainable Development

The FSC Indigenous Foundation participated in the “First Regional Forestry and Sustainable Landscapes Congress” seeking to build a joint multisectoral agenda to combat the climate crises by the sustainable management of forests and biodiversity through the vision and needs of the Indigenous Peoples and local communities.

Panama City, Panama. The “First Regional Forestry and Sustainable Landscapes Congress” was held in Panama City from April 6 to 8. This event was part of a regional strategy to build a joint multisectoral agenda to combat climate change, to promote the sustainable management of the forests and biodiversity, and encourage innovative solutions to conserve nature and generate benefits for the local and Indigenous communities.

The Mesoamerican Alliance of Peoples and Forests (AMPB), the Central American Integration System (SICA), the Central American Commission for Environment and Development (CCAD), and the Ministry of the Environment of Panama led this initiative.

The technical and financial support for the event was provided by the FSC Indigenous Foundation (FSC-IF), the Indigenous Peoples Alliance for Rights and Development (IPARD) and other organizations and cooperation agencies, such as Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI), Climate and Land Use Alliance (CLUA), the Ford Foundation, Forest and Farm Facility (FFF), Forest Trends, the Prisma Foundation and Rainforest Foundation US.

This space for dialogue, reflection, and co-creation allowed to determine the challenged and opportunities Mesoamerica has by aiming to join forces to structure a course of action that includes and positions the vision of Indigenous Peoples and local communities as the main ax in all forest and biodiversity conservation strategies, so that countries in that region manage to achieve their goals and commitments established during international agreements.  

Various modules occurred during the event that let the public know the mesoamerican reality, as well as the diverse proposals and successful experiences. As a result, the discussion on the importance of Indigenous Peoples and local communities participation in the management and forests conservation, biodiversity and other resources was deepened.

Levi Sucre, Coordinator of the Mesoamerican Alliance of Peoples and Forests (AMPB), Sara Omi, President of the Mesoamerican Coordinating Committee of Women Territorial Leaders and Victor Francisco Cadavid, National Forestry Director of the Ministry of Environment of Panama, spoke at the opening of the event, emphasizing the importance of the space and highlighting the role of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities.

Portait Levi Sucre Coordinator of the Mesoamerican Alliance of People and Forest

” We Indigenous Peoples and local communities have a lot to contribute and we contribute from being guardians of the forests. We contribute to the knowledge of how we interact and live in the forests,” said Levi Sucre, coordinator of the AMPB.


Portait Sara Omi, President of the Mesoamerican Coordinating Committee of Women Territorial Leaders

Sara Omi, noted: “As women, we are concerned about and work on multiple challenges such as food security, the rescue of traditional knowledge and the transmission of that knowledge”.


Additionally, Francisco Souza, Director of the FSC Indigenous Foundation, highlighted the relationship of Indigenous Peoples with nature and the importance of their inclusion in the implementation of national policies and laws.

Portait Francisco Souza, Director of the FSC Indigenous Foundation

In this sense, Franciso Souza pointed out, The importance of this discussion on the rights of Mother Nature is an important starting point to also think about the rights of Indigenous Peoples.


Mauricio Mireles, FAO Policy Officer for Indigenous Peoples and Social Inclusion for Latin America and the Caribbean, opened the discussion with an introductory presentation in which he highlighted the contribution and challenges of Indigenous and forest communities in the protection of Mesoamerican forests. In his presentation he emphasized: “If we understand that there is effectiveness in ancestral knowledge, we understand why native peoples are the main defenders. If we do not support the protection that people do, we cannot expect conservation to continue.”

The first module addressed the coordination of public policy for forest conservation, economic development and climate change adaptation and mitigation. Here the successful experiences of some organizations in the region were presented. The following is a detail of the discussion. 

Marcedonio Cortave, Executive Director of the Association of Forest Communities of Petén (ACOFOP) highlighted the contributions of Petén’s forest communities to the conservation of the Maya Biosphere Reserve, stressing that community governance is the basis for sustainable forest management. During his speech, Cortave stated: “It is the communities that have maintained the forests. Why? Because they are their livelihoods. They cannot be protected without the contribution of those who inhabit those areas.”

Sagladummad Anibal Sanchez, representative of the Guna General Congress, presented the achievements and challenges of the Integral Plan of the Indigenous Peoples of Panama, emphasizing the importance of linking the traditional knowledge of Indigenous Peoples in different areas, as a strategy to generate sustainable development models that include the needs and priorities of the communities, in this sense he emphasized: “Indigenous knowledge must be preserved and disseminated through education, in the areas of health, intercultural bilingual education and forest management.” 

Amalia Hernández, President of the Federation of Agroforestry Producers of Honduras (FEPROAH), stressed the importance of generating strategic alliances to promote community forestry in her country, underscoring the need to listen to proposals from the communities that are on the front line of defense and action for the protection of forests. “The grassroots communities are and have always been the protectors of the forests. Therefore, we continue to advocate that we should be heard.” she said. 

The second module of the Congress focused on the challenges of building a fair forestry market and respecting the rights of Indigenous and local communities. The experiences of organizations from Mexico, Honduras and the FSC were presented. 

Gustavo Sánchez Valle, President of the Mexican Network of Peasant Forestry Organizations (MOCAF Network), presented the experience of community forest governance in Mexico and its relationship with legal timber. He stressed the importance of establishing national and international spaces for dialogue to create the necessary conditions to legalize the legal timber trade, “The legality of timber is a complex issue where different ministries of a country must participate and there must be cooperation between countries, so it is important that it is discussed in these spaces,” said Sánchez Valle. 

During his presentation, Donaldo Allen, representative of Unity of La Moskitia (MASTA), highlighted the importance of community forest governance in Honduras as well as the inclusion of traditional knowledge in all processes: “Within the framework of respect, we must frame ourselves in a double manner: How we organize and coordinate traditional knowledge with academic knowledge without imposition.” 

This module also featured the participation of Zandra Martínez, President of the FSC Board of Directors, who made an important contribution as a commentator on the panel. During her intervention she emphasized that the experiences presented show that there are great opportunities for the region. She also emphasized that FSC is a market tool available to Indigenous Peoples that has proven its effectiveness in communities in Guatemala and Mexico.


The FSC Indigenous Foundation and the IPARD Program as facilitators in the co-creation of long-term innovative solutions

As part of the work carried out by the FSC Indigenous Foundation and the IPARD Program so that Indigenous Peoples around the world can manage their territories and generate their own development models, the event entitled “The Rights of Nature and Indigenous Peoples: Challenges for Sustainable Development” was organized within the framework of the “First Regional Forestry and Sustainable Landscapes Congress”.


“The heart and vision of the strategy for IPARD is to promote cooperation and collaboration between different sectors to best support and, indeed, create or co-create long-term solutions together with and for Indigenous Peoples around the world.”

Francisco Souza, Director of the FSC Indigenous Foundation.



The panel held on Thursday, April 7, deepened the discussion on the challenges and opportunities facing Panama for the implementation of the recently approved Law 287, which seeks to safeguard and promote the rights of nature.  This event highlighted this milestone as a first step for the implementation of regulations and actions necessary for conservation that contemplate the vision and needs of Indigenous Peoples and local communities.



Juan Diego Vásquez, Deputy of the National Assembly of Panama, who drafted the proposal of Law 287, pointed out that one of the achievements of this law was “To include some specific norms and conventions for Indigenous Peoples who have dedicated themselves since many centuries ago to the protection and conservation of the environment.”

Similarly, other experts invited by the Foundation highlighted the valuable role of Indigenous Peoples and local communities so that this innovative Law, approved by the Panamanian Government last February, will transform the country’s reality and become the beginning of a great strategy aimed at promoting the socioeconomic development of the communities. 

In the words of Victor Cadavid, National Forestry Director of the Ministry of Environment of Panama, “a regulation like this in our country is essential to underpin the socio-economic development towards the future, to be able to have rights over nature will indicate a protection, a greater safeguard that should be born definitely a direct participation of the Indigenous communities.”  

According to Diwigdi Valiente, Head of Sustainability for Panama Tourism, it is necessary to open a space to discuss, manage questions and generate answers that allow: to build a road map that identifies good practices and the main problems” in order to create economic development proposals for the Indigenous Peoples and Communities of the country.  

Similarly, Valeria Torres Larranaga, Governance Affairs Officer (ILPES) / CEPAL, provided a comprehensive perspective on the problems, proposals and future outlook on this issue of local, regional and global relevance. During his presentation, he said: “Indigenous Peoples, who have a close relationship with nature, have a worldview that is essential for establishing climate change mitigation and adaptation measures and for addressing the reality of the climate crisis we are currently facing.”

Constanza Prieto Figelist, Latin America Legal Lead of the Earth Law Center, pointed out that the recognition of the rights of nature in several countries of the region creates links that allow connecting human rights with the rights of nature. Regarding the specific case of Panama, she points out that: “This law establishes a bridge between human rights and the recognition of the rights of nature, since in Latin America, constitutions normally only recognize the right to a healthy environment, and opens the door to ecological recognition, to the recognition of the intrinsic value of nature.”

For more information, we invite you to watch the complete event.


Context of Indigenous Peoples and the challenges of the Mesoamerican regional agenda

The Indigenous and local communities of Mesoamerica influence approximately 50 million hectares of forests that host 8% of the world’s biodiversity and store 47% of the region’s forest carbon stocks. 


In this region there are about 5 million people who depend on forests.


The Indigenous Peoples and local communities of Mesoamerica face diverse pressures and threats that jeopardize their lives and the permanence of vital forests to confront the climate crisis. 

One of the main threats is the narco-deforestation that plagues Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. According to several studies, this phenomenon generates a loss to an average of between 15% and 30% of forest loss in these three countries. Additionally, in the same countries, Indigenous and local community leaders are persecuted, criminalized and murdered for defending the Earth from this and other threats. According to the latest report presented by Global Witness, in 2020 there were 42 murders of nature defenders and most of them were Indigenous or community leaders.

The same report states that in Mexico, 30 lethal attacks against land and environmental defenders were documented in 2020, registering a 67% increase over 2019. Logging was linked to nearly a third of these attacks, and half of all attacks in the country were directed against Indigenous communities.

This harsh reality coupled with structural inequality, the effects of climate change and the effects of the health crisis have placed Indigenous and local communities in a situation of multiple and extreme vulnerabilities. 

As a result, the regional multisectoral agenda, backed and supported by the FSC Indigenous Foundation, the IPARD Program, and other strategic allies, is facing diverse challenges  of various natures, but also present an opportunity to build an effective course of action that allows to co-create innovative solutions from the front line Communities’ perspective so that they can generate benefits in economic, environmental, social and cultural terms for the countries, Indigenous Peoples, local communities, and the private sector shareholders committed to the sustainable development. 

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