Forest tenure and the rights of indigenous peoples

Throughout 2019, UN-REDD was active in raising the profile of securing tenure rights, mainstreaming indigenous rights and promoting social inclusion in REDD+ policy and actions. Major highlights of these efforts were:

  1. Collaboration with the launch and inception process of the new UNFCCC Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Platform;
  2. Generation of global knowledge and support to expert dialogues on forest governance, tenure and the rights of indigenous peoples as key to unlock the full climate mitigation potential for REDD+, for example through the Global Landscapes Forum and the “REDD+ and forest governance” knowledge hub/discussion group;
  3. Deployment of key UN-REDD knowledge on forest tenure and the rights of indigenous peoples, and associated elements, in several countries: see impact stories on Colombia, Myanmar, Paraguay and Peru in this report

Specifically on tenure systems, governance and REDD+, UN-REDD raised the global profile of securing tenure rights – including collective tenure rights contributing to a growing coalition of partners (along with the Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI), the World Resources Institute (WRI), the Tenure Facility and others) and stressing the key role of forest tenure and respect for the rights of indigenous peoples as part of a human rights-based approach. At the Climate Action Summit’s Nature’s Climate Hub, UN-REDD launched the information brief “Collective tenure rights: Realizing the potential for REDD+ and sustainable development” Expert dialogues on forest governance, tenure and the rights of indigenous peoples in the context of REDD+ were disseminated through the UN-REDD supported “REDD+ and forest governance discussion hub”, which continued growing, reaching 850 members from 98 countries, and included the active engagement of a variety of partners, from RRI to McGill University.

In deploying knowledge in support to specific countries, following current priorities and demands, the role of UN-REDD progressed from analysis and assessment of tenure regimes to relevant technical inputs in the context of climate investment strategies, new large-scale funding proposals (e.g., the Congo, Equatorial Guinea), key information on REDD+ legal issues, carbon emission reduction rights/legal titling (e.g., Chile, Mexico) and related linkages with national laws, and benefit-sharing mechanisms (Zambia, including collaboration with the World Bank FCPF nesting approach). This key work is helping to position countries to attract the resources needed to implement tenure reform as part of their national REDD+ programmes and NDCs, or – such as the example of Chile – helping countries to lay a stronger foundation to access and receive key REDD+ results-based payments.

UN-REDD continued to provide key legal technical support to countries, helping them enact legal reforms and drafting legal instruments to advance REDD+ implementation (e.g., Côte d’Ivoire, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Mexico). Advice on indigenous peoples’ forestry rights (Panama), and institutionalizing NFMS legal arrangements (Peru, Honduras) was also provided, with notable rights dimensions.

The UN-REDD experience in community forestry and community monitoring in Latin America over past years was further disseminated through intense and fruitful South-South cooperation, including local communities and indigenous peoples from different countries in the region.

Concerning multi-stakeholder engagement, democratic governance and indigenous peoples’ rights in REDD+ action, UN-REDD supported the inception and launch of the UNFCCC Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Platform in diverse ways. For instance, UN-REDD mobilized selected indigenous leaders who are experienced in REDD+ and financed their participation in the Platform’s inception meetings. UN-REDD also engaged with the UNFCCC secretariat and the Platform itself to provide best practices to manage this new initiative, particularly with regard to bringing local indigenous knowledge to global policy arenas. UN-REDD coalesced a detailed response to a request from the UNFCCC Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice at its fiftieth session on lessons and opportunities for partnership support to the Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Platform, including experiences and entry points for 12 countries around the world. UN-REDD also collaborated with the International Indigenous Women’s Forum, providing training and advice for mainstreaming gender in forest processes

UN-REDD was active in a special rights conference of the Global Landscapes Forum, held in Bonn in June 2019. In particular, UN-REDD generated spaces for indigenous and forest community stakeholders to share their experiences and make their voices heard on issues related to the climate-forest-landscape nexus. UN-REDD also disseminated knowledge and lessons on how to integrate tenure, the rights of indigenous peoples and gender equality in forest and REDD+ actions (blog). At the Forum – with major participation from the international indigenous peoples’ caucus to the UNFCCC, the International Indigenous Peoples Forum on Climate Change, as well as members and partners of the new UNFCCC Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Platform – UN-REDD hosted the “Making climate action inclusive” event, jointly with indigenous organizations and indigenous-rights partners, which included a dozen high-level and technical speakers, from indigenous leaders to Government officials and development practitioners. It served to share knowledge on best practices for inclusive policy processes in the climate-land-forest interface. In addition, UN-REDD was offered one of the slots at the special Earth Speakers session, which served to highlight how indigenous knowledge can be a catalyst of policy reforms, with specific references to UN-REDD supported processes in Colombia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo over recent years.

Finally, UN-REDD helped design and consult a new phase for the Community-based REDD+ Initiative. This included convening stakeholder discussions during the Climate Action Summit in September 2019 and global stakeholder consultations, and defining a partnership approach with the Tenure Facility. In addition to community grants, the proposed Community-based REDD+ Initiative has two new goals: to serve the UNFCCC Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Platform and to promote the participation of indigenous peoples in country NDC processes. This new phase of the Initiative received support from the UN-REDD Executive Board in 2019 and hopes to secure funding in 2020.

Several knowledge products and communication pieces were released during 2019; including:

In addition, several guidance and knowledge products on gender equality were released, including:

This report is made possible through support from Denmark, Japan, Luxembourg, Norway, Spain, Switzerland and the European Union.