REDD+ People: Diego Iván Escobar
Diego Iván Escobar understands the issues faced by indigenous peoples and local communities when confronted with natural resource policies that may impact their lands and livelihoods. As a member of the Piratapuyo peoples in his native Columbia, he has experienced these first-hand.
Today, Escobar works to bridge the gap between environmental conservation and indigenous rights as the Natural Resources and Environment Coordinator with the non-profit organization Coordinator of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon River Basin COICA) (Spanish: Coordinadora de las Organizaciones Indígenas de la Cuenca Amazónica), a role he has filled for more than six years.
Founded in 1984 in Lima, Peru and now headquartered in Quito, Ecuador, COICA was established to defend the self-determination of indigenous peoples, to respect the human rights of its members, to coordinate the actions of its members on an international level, to fortify and cultivate mutual collaboration between all Indigenous peoples of the region, and to promote the cultural heritage of its members.
In the context of REDD+, COICA works to ensure that indigenous peoples are included in the process of defining and implementing REDD+ in a way that respects their cultural heritage, land rights and livelihoods, as well as to contribute valuable local knowledge to the process.
Escobar has contributed to this by being part of the COICA team that introduced the “Amazonian Indigenous REDD+ Proposal” at the May 2012 UNFCCC intersessional meeting in Bonn, Germany. The impact of this proposal on the global level has been significant, with governments and international NGOs now taking into account the valuable opinions of indigenous peoples. On the ground, Escobar also plays an important role, informing local communities and COICA member organizations on REDD+ issues through training sessions that he has designed and organized – empowering these groups to more proactively engage in REDD+ dialogues in their respective countries.
As a proponent of the REDD+ Five Guiding Principles, WWF believes that indigenous peoples should play a role in the development of a successful REDD+ mechanism. As part of this, WWF supports COICA’s efforts by providing technical assistance on key REDD+ policy issues.
(Information provided by WWF-Peru's Liliana Lozano.)