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From Words to Actions: Catalyzing Multi-sectoral Alliances to Co-create Indigenous-led Financing Mechanisms for Inclusive Nature-based Solutions

Indigenous leaders, donors, and NGOs discussed Indigenous-led finance models and funding initiatives at a Climate Week New York event.

Indigenous Peoples and their territories are sources of global solutions to climate change. Respecting the rights of Indigenous Peoples and increasing their participation in climate-based solutions is critical to achieving the Paris Agreement’s goals, fostering climate resilience, and reducing risks to all sectors. 

However, only a fraction of funding for climate and nature-based solutions has directly reached Indigenous Peoples’ organizations and local communities in the past decade. Indigenous-led financial mechanisms are the fuel to safeguard Indigenous customary rights and value their livelihoods and practices as an underlying principle to promote sustainable development and catalyze scalable and long-term climate solutions.

At Climate Week New York, the FSC Indigenous Foundation, USAID, the Coalition for the UN We Need, and GWL Voices for Change and Inclusion organized a panel discussion From Words to Actions: Catalyzing Multi-sectoral Alliances to Co-create Indigenous-led Financing Mechanisms for Inclusive Nature-based Solutions to bring together Indigenous leaders, donors, and NGOs to exchange on existing Indigenous-led finance models and identify ways of integration and collaboration to achieve common goals toward piloting Indigenous-led funding initiatives worldwide.

Francisco Souza, Managing Director of the FSC Indigenous Foundation and member of the Apurinã Indigenous Peoples of the Brazilian Amazon, opened the session with a critical message about the importance of creating and strengthening cross-collaboration among different sectors. He also stated: “The conversation today is about the future, but we need to think about the past, and we need to recognize and respect the past.” Indigenous communities have lived in harmony with Mother Earth for centuries. “Integrating Indigenous communities will help us reduce risks for the future and think together about the solutions; the asset that we bring to the table is the knowledge that we’ve gathered for centuries.” 

Maria F. Espinosa, member of GWL Voices for Change and Inclusion, pointed out that women need to be at the heart of climate action and  Indigenous Women are already taking leadership in helping their communities adapt to the changing climate. She said, “Climate change is a symptom of a broken relationship between society, politics, our economic models, and nature. The call here is for reconciliation between humans and nature, and Indigenous Peoples are key to rebuilding the relationship with nature.

In the first panel, Indigenous Voices, participants discussed how to ensure Indigenous voices are heard at the highest levels of decision-making in climate change mitigation and adaptation policies, climate finance, and how to create stronger alliances to conserve forests and other ecosystems. Aïssatou Oumarou, an Indigenous leader from Chad and Vice President of the Network of Indigenous and Local Populations for the Sustainable Management of Forest Ecosystems in Central Africa (REPALEAC) stated that “REPALEAC helps Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities (IPLCs) in Africa, we support 467 organizations. Our vision is to help Africa provide the great contributions of ICLCs to climate action and to request our participation in decision-making.” 

Kanyinke Sena, Director of the Indigenous Peoples of Africa Co-ordinating Committee (IPACC), stated that “Local communities are not receiving enough funding” in order to implement nature-based solutions to tackle climate change and protect their resources. Participants also called attention to the alarming numbers of environmental defenders that have been killed in recent years for raising their voices.

In the second panel, Donor Perspectives: Investing in the fight against Climate Change, panelists presented the financial initiatives and programs that they offer to support local solutions to global environmental problems and empower Indigenous Peoples in their roles as guardians of nature. 

They all concluded that there is funding available to help solve the problems: “The money is there”, but all interested parties need to strengthen and clearly define good financial mechanisms as well as improved mechanisms for implementation, reporting, and follow-up. It is essential to ensure that climate finance is reaching Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities. 

This productive discussion included: Gillian Caldwell, Chief Climate Officer and Deputy Assistant Administrator of USAID, Andrea Johnson, Advisor, Global and Mexico and Central America Initiatives for the Climate and Land Use Alliance (CLUA), and Yoko Watanabe, GEF Small Grants Programme at UNDP. 

Caldwell from USAID stated, “Indigenous Peoples have been aware since a long time ago that the climate was changing in dangerous ways, and yet they are still sometimes marginalized from climate-related decision-making.” 

Johnson from CLUA called for building trust-based philanthropy and the co-creation of solutions. “CLUA is trying to shift the ways in which the money is channeled.”

Watanabe from the GEF Small Grants Programme at UNDP called attention to the ownership or programs, “It is very important that the decisions are owned and held by civil society and Indigenous Peoples.” She also mentioned that sharing lessons learned is essential. 

The last panel, Indigenous Led Initiatives – Nature Based Solutions, was dedicated to sharing good practices and lessons learned about collaborative conservation projects and nature-based climate change solutions. The two distinguished panelists: Francisco Souza, Managing Director of the FSC Indigenous Foundation (IF), and Gustavo Sanchez, President of the Mexican Network of Forest Local Organizations (MOCAF) and Board of Directors of the Mesoamerican Alliance of Peoples and Forests (AMPB), discussed how we can promote multi-sectoral alliances to co-create Indigenous-led financing for inclusive climate-based solutions. 

Souza stated, “We should be able to think about Indigenous economies and Indigenous businesses” in order for IPLCs to achieve sustainable self-development.  He also mentioned that IPLCs need to evaluate if they can see carbon markets as an opportunity. Indigenous Peoples have the capacity to manage their resources as they have been doing this for centuries, but at the same time, “We should be able to influence different spaces, to negotiate with different stakeholders, to manage the money at different scales.”

On the other hand, Sanchez spoke about global and regional programs they are developing with donors and expressed concern about the slow progress in some aspects. He called attention to the flexibility of programs in terms of priorities that are defined, “Donors need to understand what the other stakeholders require, to actually see the priorities in the territories and not just the priorities that donors have.” He called for action and closed with the statement: “We hope to get to the COP with more facts and not only with promises.”  

Francisco Souza closed the event with a message that we need to think about implementing the $1.7bn pledge made at COP26 to give funding directly to Indigenous Peoples and local communities, but we also need to bring together different stakeholders together to think beyond the pledge. 

View a recording of the webinar here.

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III Guna Women’s Congress

The Congress was a space for dialogue, reflection, empowerment and spirituality among Guna women.

Strengthening and spirituality

Guna women play a fundamental role in the Gunadule society, as guardians of the forests and responsible for transmitting traditional knowledge such as language, collective memory, and traditional practices of planting and medicine based on native plants.

This III Congress of Indigenous Guna Women was held from September 6 to 8 in the community of Gardi Sugdub to be a space for dialogue, reflection, and strengthening among Guna women. The spirituality of Gunadule women and the processes of recovering ancestral knowledge were some of the topics discussed. Participants also reflected on the main socio-economic and environmental problems affecting their communities, in order to generate local development alternatives with a gender approach and from traditional Guna knowledge.

Briseida Iglesias, recognized as a Guna sage and founder of the Bundorgan Women’s Network, Darelis Erhman, leader of the women’s organization Nis Bundor, and Kandra Ehrman, Secretary General of the Guna Youth, were some of the panelists of the congress. Local authorities also participated, such as the Director of the Women’s Institute (INAMU) Nellys Herrera, and prominent members of the Guna General Congress. The words of welcome were given by the Sagladummagan Domitilio Morris, Rengifo Navas and the Argar guide Alberto Vázquez.

There was also space to discuss and evaluate the proposed organizational system of Bundorgan, resulting in the development of internal regulations and their approval in assembly, after three years of being organized among women.

This event had the support of the Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI) and the Indigenous Peoples’ Alliance for Rights and Development (IPARD), financed by USAID and implemented by the FSC Indigenous Foundation as part of the Project to Strengthen the Indigenous Agenda of Panama, which is being developed by the Mesoamerican Alliance of Peoples and Forests, the Mesoamerican Coordinating Committee of Women Territorial Leaders, and the Association of Indigenous Emberá Women Artisans (AMARIE).

Strengthening from the root

The Guna Women’s Congress has been held every year since 2019, when the newly born Bundorgan Women’s Network convened this space. Up until ten years ago, Guna women were not allowed to participate in the General Congresses of the Guna Culture and only attended as companions, without the right to express their opinions. Women like Briceida Iglesias opened spaces so that women could attend the general congresses with voice and vote; promoting the management of their own space.

Thanks to these opportunities, Guna women have been developing a joint agenda of socio-cultural advocacy for the well-being of Mother Earth. Each meeting among Indigenous Guna women is a step forward to strengthen women and transgress the barriers that have historically limited the political participation of Indigenous women in decision-making spaces.

An increasing number of women have become interested and joined the Bondorgan Women’s Network. Forty-nine women attended the first congress and this year the number tripled, with the participation of 150 women from 32 communities of the Gunayala region.

The Bundorgan Women’s Network works for the recovery and preservation of traditional medicine, culture, and ancestral practices of planting and Guna medicine.

Originally published in Spanish on the Coordinadora de Mujeres Líderes Territoriales de Mesoamérica website.

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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.”

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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.

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