Indigenous rights for Peru
By Jen Dawes
After a bleak day 1, it was invigorating to feel the sun’s warmth and embark on another day of COP22. Today was Forest Action Day (as mentioned by Charlotte) and one of the side events I attended was hugely inspiring. It discussed the case of Peru’s REDD+ Indigenous initiative which is led by the Asociación Interétnica de Desarrollo de la Selva Peruana (AIDESEP). They are a grassroots organisation who have developed the following objectives:
1. To represent the immediate and historical interests of all the Indigenous Peoples of the Amazon;
2. To guarantee the conservation and the development of the cultural identity, territory and values of each of the Indigenous Peoples of the Amazon;
3. To make the exercise of self-determination of indigenous peoples possible within the framework of Peruvian national law and international law; and
4. To promote the human and sustainable development of Indigenous Peoples.
In the context of REDD+ in Peru, a lot was discussed regarding tenure and the rights of indigenous people to be involved in the protection of the amazon. It focused on their extensive local knowledge and how this should be utilised by governments and other corporations to mitigate and adapt to climate change. For the indigenous populations of Peru, the amazon does not just represent trees. It is a food source, their livelihood, and a place for developing themselves as human beings – they are, therefore, the government’s best allies. The importance of such communities is evident by the fact that, within their territories – which represents approximately 25% of Peru, and accounts for about 13 million people – they have a very low rate of deforestation. This proves that they are not the problem but, rather, part of the solution.
A continuation of this is the empowerment of indigenous women to stand alongside their “brothers” in the fight against climate change. Without this empowerment, REDD+ would not succeed. This is also part of Peru’s practice of gender equality and provides the opportunity for women to lead mixed organisations within their territories. This takes on a bottom-up approach by using women’s knowledge as a platform for developing a clear proposal for REDD+ initiatives.
What made this session so special was hearing from the native Amazonians (thank goodness for translators!); and not just explaining the initiative but telling their story with such passion that it has inspired me to want to know more about indigenous Peruvian populations…because, without them, there wouldn’t be any trees to take care of.