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Ceremony to celebrate business mentoring program between Indigenous company Guna Ogob and Sofitel Legend Casco Viejo Hotel

The FSC Indigenous Foundation facilitated this collaboration to foster partnerships, knowledge exchange, and economic development with culture and identity.

Panama City, Panama – On February 29, 2024, members of the Indigenous community business Guna Ogob and volunteers from the Sofitel Legend Casco Viejo Hotel received certificates after having completed a business mentoring program together.  

This innovative partnership connected members of the company Guna Ogob with professional hotel staff, who exchanged knowledge and offered mentoring in sales, marketing, accounting, talent, and culture over 6 months. Volunteers learned how to provide support to Indigenous Peoples on these topics, and Guna Ogob members strengthened business skills. The program also identified challenges and opportunities for business partnerships between the private sector and an Indigenous business.  

Guna Ogob is an Indigenous community coconut oil business located on Mamitupu island in the comarca Gunayala in the northeast of Panama. It was founded in 1997 by Pablo Nieto Pérez and has grown despite challenges of lack of registration and access to markets. Today, youth from the community are leading the development of the company, harmonizing a modern vision with Indigenous ancestral knowledge. 

Sofitel Legend Casco Viejo is a hotel with a unique location, where wonderful views of the Pacific Ocean can be appreciated. With a commitment to a social impact program, the hotel’s professional staff has participated in a knowledge exchange with Guna Ogob and is working to strengthen this Indigenous enterprise and its design and brand. 

The FSC Indigenous Foundation (FSC-IF) is a global Indigenous organization supporting Indigenous Peoples’ self-development, self-governance, and self-reliance through Indigenous-based solutions, multi-sectoral partnerships, and funding. Through the Indigenous Peoples Alliance for Rights and Development (IPARD) Program, we have been working with Guna Ogob, fostering strategic partnerships between the Guna People and stakeholders, including government and the private sector. We have supported training in entrepreneurial and business skills, and the co-development of a strategic and business plan.  

The collaboration with Sofitel Legend Casco Viejo is one of these initiatives that demonstrates the success of shared value partnership management: while Guna Ogob has been able to learn new skills and organizational cultures, Sofitel volunteers have been able to identify talent, learn about Indigenous ways of doing business, and exchange cultural knowledge. 

Closing ceremony  

The presentation of certificates took place at the Sofitel Legend, located in Casco Viejo, Panama City, Panama. The ceremony began with a tour of the hotel and words from the Director of the Hotel, David Kianni. “We are dedicated to our commitment to continue to co-create initiatives that support cultural heritage,” he said.  

The FSC-IF Lead on Business Partnerships and Indigenous Economies, Fredy Duque said, “With these people here present, we are confident that we are contributing to the dream that Guna Ogob has of being able to move forward, not only in terms of the consolidation of a company, but also to continue sharing its cultural legacy.” 

Next, the Manager of Guna Ogob, Gabriel Garrido, and the Founder of the company, Pablo Nieto Pérez, gave remarks. 

“This is the first time I see another company that is working with us, and that’s going to be part of the story that we always tell,” said Gabriel Garrido. 

Igupdili Morris, in charge of sales of Guna Ogob, emphasized the importance of working together. “If one falls down, we have to stand together and get up,” she said.   

The event concluded with a presentation by the hotel chef of products made with Guna Ogob coconut oil. Participants discussed the partnership and how it will help both companies in the future. The collaboration will continue with support on logo and branding.

News

Indigenous women on the frontline against climate change

At COP28, Indigenous women leaders from Africa, Mesoamerica and Asia share perceptions of climate change and their actions to resist its effects.

On December 11, Indigenous women from Cameroon, Panama, Kenya, and the Philippines discussed how their ancestral knowledge contributes to Indigenous Peoples’ resilience to the effects of climate change in a side event at COP 28, From the frontlines: Through Indigenous women’s eyes.  The event was organized by the FSC Indigenous Foundation (FSC-IF), the Coordination of Mesoamerican Women Territorial Leaders (CMLT), the Mesoamerican Alliance of Peoples and Forests (AMBP), and the Global Alliance of Territorial Communities (GATC).

Indigenous Peoples have been disproportionately affected by the impact of climate change. From the increase in the intensity of hurricanes, forest fires, droughts, and the degradation of soils and ecosystems, this crisis causes serious losses and damages that particularly affect Indigenous women and girls, as it hinders access to subsistence resources and increases the conditions of insecurity, vulnerability and risk to different types of violence

At the same time, Indigenous women have historically been the guardians of ancestral knowledge and transmitters of traditional practices of medicine, planting, and the deep bond with Mother Earth. Therefore, the food security of their families, the good living of their peoples, and the conservation and regeneration of the planet’s forests and biodiversity depend on the empowerment and identity of Indigenous women and girls. 

Around the world Indigenous women are taking action to resist the impacts of climate change on their territories and communities and build resilience, using their ancestral knowledge and deep connection with Mother Earth. 

Voices and actions from around the world

In a panel, Sara Omi, President of the Coordinating Committee of Women Territorial Leaders of Mesoamerica; Balkisou Buba, Vice President of the Cameroon Branch of the Network of Indigenous and Local Populations for the Sustainable Management of Forest Ecosystems in Central Africa (REPALEAC); Edna Kaptoyo, Grantmaking and Partnerships Officer, Pawanka Fund; and Helen Magata, Coordinator of the Climate and Biodiversity Program of Tebtebba Foundation, shared their perspectives on loss and damages from climate change, the link between climate change and increasing violence, and their actions for resilience. 

Something needs to be done to reduce climate change to reduce the threat of violence against Indigenous women and girls,” stated Balkisou Buba. Panelists explained that Indigenous women face violence due to the impacts of climate change in their territories as they are forced to migrate to cities or walk longer distances to fetch water or wood.

They also discussed losses and damages from climate change. “Language loss is not something you can compensate for, our languages are dying,” explained Helen Magata, noting that language is connected to traditional agricultural practices of Indigenous women. 

In response to these challenges, panelists shared actions they are taking in their communities for climate resilience. 

Indigenous women are doing great work to preserve the ancestral knowledge of our grandmothers. I come from a community that was relocated due to the construction of a hydroelectric dam, my grandmothers have shown that despite the violation of the right to territory we can restore our home and maintain our identity,” said Sara Omi. 

Indigenous women have been socially organizing to collectively face issues, such as access to food with drought-tolerant crops and traditional medicine. Women understand the ecology of their territory, which is crucial for regeneration and restoration projects,” added Edna Kaptoyo.

“Pastoralists use the land for periods so that the soil can regenerate. We also take just what we need from nature. We also use traditional knowledge to predict what is going to happen: draughts, rains,” said Balkisou Buba.  

Helen Magata discussed forest and water management practices in her community that respond the the challenges of climate change and contribute to the reduction of conflict. She also shared the work of a community center to support Indigenous women’s mental well-being. “We do so much for the community and forget about ourselves, but we are also individuals,” she said. 

The panel was moderated by Rabiatou Ahmadou, Political Participation and Advocacy Coordinator at the International Indigenous Women’s Forum.Our Indigenous cultures are cultures of sharing,” she emphasized, highlighting that Indigenous women think about sharing, protecting, and leaving resources for the next generation. 

Messages to stakeholders

Key stakeholders including governments, donors, philanthropists, and social and humanitarian operators participated in the event to hear directly from Indigenous women leaders on their perspectives and messages.

Edna Kaptoyo called for the recognition of the role of Indigenous women in climate resilience. Balkisou Buba highlighted the need to invest in traditional knowledge and involve Indigenous women in decision-making.

Helen Magata said that Indigenous women do not need to be empowered, because they already are. “Knowledge is power and Indigenous women have the knowledge,” she said. The call for stakeholders is to provide spaces and platforms for them to share that knowledge.

Further than the creation of these spaces, both Sara Omi and Balkisou Buba emphasized the need for direct climate finance to Indigenous women to allow them to continue protecting forests, and landscapes and advancing actions towards climate resilience. 

Watch a recording of the event below:

Contact information:

Mary Donovan, FSC-IF, m.donovan@fsc.org

Tamara Espinoza, CMLT/AMPB, comunicacion@mujeresmesoamericanas.org

Andrea Rodriguez, GATC, arodriguez@globalalliance.me

Listen to more messages from Indigenous women on climate change here.

News

Indigenous empowerment for climate-resilient solutions in Africa

At COP 28 side event Indigenous leaders discussed empowering Indigenous communities with financial resources and inclusive carbon markets to scale up climate solutions.

At COP 28, the FSC Indigenous Foundation, the Indigenous Peoples of Africa Coordinating Committee (IPACC),  the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)’s Inclusive Development Hub convened experts at an event on December 5 in the Indigenous Peoples Pavilion, Engaging Indigenous Peoples in Carbon Markets: Direct access to climate finance for Indigenous communities in Africa to increase awareness of the unique contributions of Indigenous communities to climate resilience and to discuss opportunities, challenges and solutions related to direct climate finance and carbon markets.

The need for direct and inclusive mechanisms

The global challenges of biodiversity loss and climate change require urgent and collaborative action. Indigenous communities, often the stewards of rich biodiversity, possess unique knowledge and sustainable practices that can significantly contribute to climate resilience. By fostering direct access for Indigenous Peoples to climate finance, we can empower Indigenous communities in Africa to implement sustainable solutions, contributing significantly to the broader goals of biodiversity conservation and climate resilience.

Carbon markets could be a way of empowering Indigenous Peoples by paying them for protecting the world’s forests. Indigenous and community lands hold at least 22% of the carbon stored in tropical and subtropical forests globally. These markets have the potential to create a unique opportunity for Indigenous communities to develop an economic sector aligned with Indigenous lifestyles, Indigenous Cultural Landscapes, and sustainable land management. It is also an opportunity for governments and industry to co-create meaningful partnerships and develop relevant policies with Indigenous Peoples.

On the other hand, some Indigenous communities fear that further development of carbon markets, even with the new rules agreed to at COP 27, will endanger local livelihoods and create loopholes for further emissions. Markets must be designed in a transparent way that responds to the needs and realities of Indigenous communities.

Perspectives from Indigenous leaders

We took the opportunity of COP28 to create an inclusive space to identify the key constraints, challenges, and opportunities of climate finance and carbon markets. 

To begin the event, Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, FSC Indigenous Foundation Council Chair gave opening remarks. 

“What is the carbon market, and how is it going to respect the land and rights of Indigenous Peoples?” she asked.  “If governments are going engage in the carbon market, we are not going to let them do it without getting the benefit and we are not going to let them do it while harming our lives and our territories.”

A panel with Indigenous leaders and partner organizations shared perspectives and key insights on how we can engage stakeholders from the realms of climate finance, environmental policy, and Indigenous rights advocacy to ensure direct access to finance for Indigenous communities.

Panelists also discussed how Indigenous Peoples can benefit from carbon markets, and which concerns need to be addressed for more Indigenous Peoples to participate.

“There is a big debate that carbon is a false solution”, said Kanyinke Sena, Executive Director of IPACC. “We must understand that carbon in itself is not a bad thing, what is a bad thing is the people that use that to come and benefit – the carbon cowboys.” 

He also emphasized the importance of Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC) for communities engaging in the carbon market.

Elijah Toirai, Natural Climate Solutions (NCS) and Communities Lead at Conservation International discussed registration for carbon credits and the importance of carbon market reports remaining public. “We are seeing a shift towards Indigenous Peoples communities becoming the carbon credit entity. The Indigenous Peoples’ communities and organizations are registering the projects. That way, when it comes to benefit sharing, the buyers actually then pay to these Indigenous Peoples’ organizations,” he said.

Joseph Itongwa, Coordinator of REPALEAC and IPACC Great Lakes representative, posed an important question: “Where can we report the wrongdoers in the carbon credit equation?”

The question and answer section presented the opportunity to exchange knowledge and information from other regions. 

“We, the Indigenous Peoples, have organized ourselves and have proposed our own climate strategy, called the Amazon Indigenous Network, in the face of this challenge. We are looking for the rights of Indigenous Peoples to come first, and the right of access to the territories. We are implementing REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) with the guidelines of the Amazon Indigenous Network,” said Fermín Chimatani Tayori of the National Association of Contract Executors for the Administration of Communal Reserves of Peru.

Panelists concluded that it is vital to ensure the respect of Indigenous Peoples’ rights in the development of carbon markets. Indigenous Peoples need to be included in the design of these mechanisms so they can engage in carbon markets, if they so choose, in favor of their communities, landscapes, and cosmovision.

News

Babbel partners with the FSC Indigenous Foundation to facilitate English language learning with Indigenous Peoples 

Language is a tool that empowers and promotes participation in crucial global discussions.

Panama / Berlin, November 14, 2023 – The FSC Indigenous Foundation, a global Indigenous organization working with and for Indigenous Peoples worldwide, and Babbel, the world’s leading language learning platform, announce a partnership to offer English lessons to Indigenous Peoples around the world. 

Babbel will support Indigenous Peoples with the self-paced learning app as well as its live classes with teachers to learn English, so they can actively participate in international events and meetings, and get access to more opportunities for the benefit of their communities and the planet. English will make it easier for them to find information on activities that improve their lives and territories. 

Babbel’s purpose is to create mutual understanding through language. In addition to providing a platform for millions of learners who want to learn new languages and get to know cultures, the company is committed to making a positive impact on the world, reducing the environmental footprint and fostering diversity, inclusion and equality. 

For the Indigenous population, English is a language that we must master to have better communication and promote our agenda, this strengthens the economy in tourism, environmental management and all issues related to international cooperation,” said Florita Martínez, a Bribri Indigenous leader from Costa Rica and member of the Coordinating Committee of Women Territorial Leaders of Mesoamerica (CMLT).

This would be a very fundamental initiative for the Ipeti Embera Artisan Women’s Association to improve communication with visitors and strategic allies,” said Omayra Casama, President of the Ipeti Embera Artisan Women’s Association (AMARIE), an Indigenous women’s organization in Panama

With nearly two billion speakers worldwide, English is the official language of 55 countries and is spoken widely in over 100. These numbers are growing. It is predicted that by 2050, half the world will speak English. Indigenous Peoples should be included in this worldwide trend as their perspectives and knowledge are crucial in important global discussions from climate change to business, tourism, and culture.

I think that the English language is dominating the world, we have to prepare ourselves as Indigenous Peoples and also prepare the youth to continue defending our territories,” said Briceida Inglesias, wise woman of the Guna people, Panama, and member of the Coordinating Committee of Women Territorial Leaders of Mesoamerica (CMLT).

Babbel is supporting the FSC Indigenous Foundation, as a partner in the Indigenous Peoples Alliance for Rights and Development (IPARD) Program, in strengthening Indigenous Peoples’ English skills by granting licenses to leaders and youth around the world who wish to learn with Babbel’s ecosystem and live classes (Babbel Live). IPARD is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and other private sector partners. 

“At Babbel, we believe that language shouldn’t be a barrier, but a bridge to connect people around the world. Our goal is to make language learning easy, effective and flexible, so businesses and organizations can communicate better with international clients and partners, and thrive in the global market. We’re here to support people in breaking down language barriers and achieving success in our interconnected world. That’s why I’m very excited to start this collaboration with the FSC Indigenous Foundation”, commented Cristian Silva, responsible for this partnership at Babbel.

We will soon share information about the application process for English lessons.

​​About Babbel

Babbel develops and operates an ecosystem of interconnected online language learning experiences and is driven by the purpose of creating mutual understanding through language. This means building products that help people connect and communicate across cultures. The Babbel App, Babbel Live, Babbel Podcasts and Babbel for Business products focus on using a new language in the real world, in real situations, with real people. And it works: Studies by linguists from institutions such as Michigan State University, Yale University and the City University of New York demonstrated the efficacy of Babbel’s language learning methods.

The key is a blend of humanity and technology. Babbel offers more than 60,000 lessons across 14 languages, hand-crafted by 200 didactics experts, with user behaviors continuously analyzed to shape and tweak the learner experience. This results in constantly adapting, interactive content with live classes, games, podcasts, and videos that make understanding a new language easy, from Spanish to Indonesian.

Because Babbel is for everyone, its team is as diverse as its content. From its headquarters in Berlin and its U.S. office in New York, 1,000 people from more than 75 nationalities represent the backgrounds, characteristics, and perspectives that make all humans unique. Babbel sold over 10 million subscriptions by creating a true connection with users

More information: www.babbel.com

About the FSC Indigenous Foundation 

The FSC Indigenous Foundation is a global Indigenous organization with a mission, values, and actions driven by, for, and with Indigenous Peoples. We work to elevate Indigenous Peoples in their contribution to the protection of Mother Earth and recognize them as providers of solutions and partners to fight against global challenges.  

We envision a future where Indigenous-led solutions and actions, generated within one-quarter of the planet, safeguard the future of everyone and our planet. To reach this goal, we support Indigenous Peoples’ self-development, self-governance, and self-reliance through Indigenous-based solutions, multi-sectoral partnerships, and funding. 

The FSC Indigenous Foundation is committed to capacity development for Indigenous Peoples and stakeholders. We know that development, leadership, management, technical, and negotiation skills are key to building capacities to protect Indigenous Peoples’ rights, territories, and livelihoods. Developing skills and capacities is essential when working with Indigenous Peoples, as this will allow them to negotiate, participate, and influence decision-making process on their own conditions.

More information: www.fscindigenousfoundation.org/ 

Contact:

fsc.if@fsc.org 

press@babbel.com

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