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Panamanian Indigenous Pitted Against United Nations

Article Summary:

A dispute over the implementation of REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) in Panama has pitted the United Nations (UN) against the nation’s diverse and large indigenous groups who charge that the UN has failed to meet several pledges related to kick-starting REDD+ with their support, including delaying a $1.79 million payment to the group to begin REDD+-related activities.The ongoing dispute highlights the perils and complexities of implementing REDD+, especially concerns that the program might disenfranchise indigenous groups who have long been the stewards of their forest territories.

Photo Credit: Mongabay

Original Article Text From News Mongabay:

Indigenous Groups in Panama Wait for UN REDD to Meet Promises

A dispute over the implementation of REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) in Panama has pitted the United Nations (UN) against the nation’s diverse and large indigenous groups. Represented by the National Coordinator of Indigenous Peoples in Panama (COONAPIP), indigenous groups charge that the UN has failed to meet several pledges related to kick-starting REDD+ with their support, including delaying a $1.79 million payment to the group to begin REDD+-related activities.

The on-going dispute highlights the perils and complexities of implementing REDD+, especially concerns that the program might disenfranchise indigenous groups who have long been the stewards of their forest territories.

“COONAPIP is an organization with a very particular nature, maybe the only one in Latin America and without a doubt in Central America, as it unites all the country’s indigenous peoples under the ‘same house.’” Betanio Chiquida, President and Chief COONAPIP of the Embera and Wounaan, told mongabay, noting that COONAPIP works with each indigenous peoples’ traditional authorities. COONAPIP also works with the Panamanian government to represent indigenous interests.

According to the 2000 census, over a quarter of a million indigenous people live in Panama, making up over 5 percent of the population. But indigenous people occupy over 22 percent of Panama’s area, while an additional 9 percent of land belongs to collective municipalities, making indigenous groups a key player in land issues.

“If we talk about REDD+ in Panama unavoidably you have to cover indigenous territories and land,” Chiquida says, noting that indigenous territories have seen no change to primary forest area from 1992 to 2008 whereas other areas that are government or privately owned have seen forest loss.

The UN does not disagree that indigenous groups are an important part of the equation in REDD+ in Panama and elsewhere, calling COONAPIP a “key actor” for negotiations.

“It will be critical for the REDD readiness process in Panama to make sure that all the indigenous people and other forest-dependent communities in the country are properly informed about REDD, and able to participate to the consultations and decision making processes,” Pierre-Yves Gueduz, a technical advisor with UN-REDD in Panama told mongabay.

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From Mongabay

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