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Indigenous peoples’ stakeholders and UN-REDD staff engaged in an information sharing session and dialogue at the annual assembly of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) in New York City on 17 April.

The open dialogue provided an opportunity for the UN-REDD Programme to share recent progress and lessons learned, to present the proposed work plan for 2018-2019 (with emphasis on the global knowledge management component on "Forest tenure and the rights of indigenous peoples”), and to seek the perspectives and priorities of indigenous peoples to enhance the Programme’s approach and activities.

The dialogue session was chaired by Ms. Grace Balawag, the representative of indigenous peoples to the UN-REDD Executive Board. Highlighted items presented included:

  • An overview of the mechanisms and approaches that the Programme has been supporting in countries to foster participatory policy dialogues and the inclusion of the rights of indigenous peoples in REDD+ policies and institutions.
  • An introduction to UN-REDD’s methodological brief on gender and the newly instituted gender marker rating system, a tool to quantitatively track how and to what degree programme outputs advance or contribute to gender equality and the empowerment of women;
  • An overview of the Community-based REDD+ (CBR+) Initiative, which recently completed its pilot phase, noting that with over 100 community projects implemented in the six pilot countries (Cambodia, DRC, Nigeria, Panama, Paraguay and Sri Lanka), the initiative has demonstrated a viable and replicable model for community engagement on REDD+;
  • The Programme’s pioneering support in community-based forest monitoring  to empower Indigenous Peoples and local communities to use innovative technology to monitor and manage their territories, while promoting successful recognition of indigenous peoples rights and;
  • A firsthand account of the importance of indigenous Peoples and local community engagement in forest management as well as in community-based forest monitoring and management, by Ms. Marbelina Oller, an Indigenous leader from the Guna Yala territory (comarca) of Panama and who currently works in the Viceministry of Indigenous Affairs in this country in charge of food security issues.

Looking ahead, the UN-REDD staff presented the strategic framework for the coming years, with specific detail on the 2018-2019 work plan of the knowledge component on “Forest tenure and the rights of indigenous peoples”, as this concerns directly Indigenous Peoples. As explained in the session, this knowledge component consists of two main outcomes / areas of strategic focus: the first focus is the knowledge and tools generation and management on mapping and reporting for forest tenure to address drivers of deforestation and forest degradation; whereas the second focus is the provision of UN-REDD knowledge and expertise to implement policies and measures for REDD+ that address forest tenure and promote the rights of IPs and forest communities (including multi-stakeholder engagement, democratic governance and indigenous-peoples’ rights in country-level REDD+ action). A detailed account of the planned activities was presented.

Participants came from the three regions where UN-REDD operates – Africa, Asia and Latin America – and from countries where UN-REDD has active programmes and provides technical and policy assistance (namely Colombia, Costa Rica, Paraguay, Panama, the Philippines, Uganda).

The feedback received from the indigenous representatives overall confirmed the validity, from the viewpoint of indigenous peoples, of the current approach taken by UN-REDD of the proposed work plan 2018-2019 in the mentioned knowledge component, which focuses on issues relevant to indigenous peoples.

The 5 main comments/priorities raised are:

  1. Continued support for country-level partnerships to ensure the inclusion of indigenous peoples in national climate policy processes;
  2. Promoting gender equality within indigenous societies;
  3. Continued support for mapping/monitoring capacities of Indigenous Peoples in their forests, lands and territories;
  4. Continued exploration of options for community financing mechanisms;
  5. Scoping collaboration with the global forum of indigenous women.

Specific comments and recommendations provided from this dialogue, as well as from dissemination of the work plan to indigenous networks in June, will be incorporated in the final work plan to be submitted to the UN-REDD Executive Board. The chairwoman also shared the outcomes of the UNPFII dialogue session during the informal meeting of Executive Board of UN-REDD, which took place in Bonn on 3 May.

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