Posted on
09 October 2012
• Indigenous people in the Peruvian Amazon learn REDD+ concepts in their own language
• Madre de Dios is one of the two pilot regions designated by the Peruvian Government to implement REDD+

Madre de Dios, September 10, 2012. If terms like degradation or emissions reduction are hard to explain in one´s language, imagine how much more complicated it can be trying to explain them to people whose main language is different from yours. What is more, if these persons are the main stakeholders in the implementation of the mechanism to Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+), it turns out to be quite a motivating and challenging task.

A few weks ago, a team from WWF Peru went deep into the Amazon forests of Madre de Dios to work together with two indigenous communities, as to inform the villagers about REDD+, and, most importantly, to learn from their valuable experiences and points of view.

The workshops took place in the Palma Real and Sonene indigenous communities as part of a process that aims for local ese ´eja indigenous peoples to better understand REDD+ so that they can make informed decisions under the framework of an eventual consultation process.

This is one of the first experiences on informing indigenous peoples on REDD+. “Carrying out these workshops required the previous development of a participative methodology in order for the inhabitants to be able to discuss and build their own vision on what they’re being informed” says Alonso Cordova, member of WWF Peru’s technical team.

Informing what is REDD+ is not an easy task. The first inconvenient is explaining the complete name itself, since the population is not familiarized with such technical words.

To overcome this, the villagers themselves trained their “brothers”. Reyna Meshi, a young villager of the Palma Real community, was chosen and trained to undertake this task in her community.

Working together with science based organizations such as WWF is really important to her: “we’ve heard some things about REDD for a long time here, but now our people understand what it is really about and based on this we can decide if it is good for us to take part in this or not”.

The main goal for these workshops is that key concepts such as reduction, emissions and carbon are internalized by the inhabitants. In order to do so, different dynamics are used, including teamwork. This is not a simple talk; it really is an interactive learning session.

Even the villagers themselves help building the following training module, as during the workshops they are asked to translate and write down in their own language words and key ideas addressed by the dynamics and discussion groups.

Lucio Yojaje, President of the Palma Real Indigenous Community, is satisfied with the work in which he took part with his brothers. “The subject has been well explained, and a good thing is that people are taking part in it and informing themselves about it. Certainly some won’t fully understand, but in time they will ask and inform themselves more and more”.

While these training activities are taking place, a systematization of each workshop experience is being done. This input is expected to become a guide on how to communicate REDD+ to indigenous peoples, which has already been jointly developed and tested with them. Certainly, this is a very useful tool which may be used as a reference to work with indigenous peoples all through the Amazon.

Madre de Dios is already feeling the effects of climate change

In spite of the insufficient information available to them, related to climate change, the villagers of both indigenous communities acknowledge very well its effects. “The climate is changing, now the heat in summer is stronger and there’s no rain for months at a time”, tells a villager.

Palma Real and Sonene villagers are from the ese ‘eja group, most of them collect Brazil nuts, a sustainable source of income. Besides this, they hunt and fish, both as a source of income and food. REDD+ may be interesting to them as to complement their productive activities under the framework of a sustainable development scheme, but for now, what is crucial to them is to learn more about this initiative as to eventually decide if they want to take part in it or not.