In Peru, finding a way to engage local indigenous people in the climate change debate

With the help of REDD, Peru has a goal of preserving a total of 54 million hectares of forest and of reducing its rate of deforestation to zero by 2021. (Photo: UN-REDD)

The United Nations collaborative initiative on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+) in developing countries was launched in 2008 and builds on the convening role and technical expertise of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).  The UNDP part of the relationship is managed from the organization’s office in Geneva, Switzerland.

The UN-REDD Programme supports nationally-led REDD+ processes and promotes the informed and meaningful involvement of all stakeholders, including indigenous peoples and other forest dependent communities, in national and international REDD+ implementation. This programme supports national REDD+ readiness efforts in 48 partner countries in Africa, Asia-Pacific and Latin America and the Caribbean, representing 56 percent of the world’s tropical forests.


  • Peru is considered a mega-diverse country, with 84 out of the planet’s 104 'Life Zones'. It has 73.3 million hectares of forests, which equates to 60% of the Peruvian territory. Although at 0.2% its annual deforestation rate is relatively low, deforestation is the primary source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the country and out of the seven countries in the Amazon Basin, Peru ranks fourth after Brazil, Venezuela and Bolivia, in terms of its rate of deforestation.
  • The Peruvian government has stated a goal of preserving a total of 54 million hectares of forest and of reducing its rate of deforestation to zero by 2021. This should equate to a 47.5% reduction of national GHG emissions compared to the year 2000.

In South America, to ensure a recent initiative was not a “top-down” development intervention, the UNDP REDD+ team devoted 18 months to strengthening the capacities of indigenous peoples so they could engage with informed participation in the design of a new REDD+ mechanism in Peru.  The mechanism, jointly funded by UNDP’s Regional REDD+ Programme in Panama, UNDP’s Country Office in Peru and the UN-REDD Programme through Targeted Support, came to a close in December 2013, achieving important results throughout the six Amazonian regions in Peru, where more than 400 female and male indigenous leaders from 80 different organizations participated in knowledge exchanges and capacity building at the local, national and international level.

In 2011, the two largest national indigenous people’s organizations in Peru came to UNDP’s office in Peru requesting support to better understand REDD+ and be prepared to participate actively in future REDD+ projects and programs under development in the country, particularly the Forest Investment Program (FIP) and the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF). They specifically requested support in capacity building on safeguards information systems, strengthening dialogue processes and mechanisms for transparent and participatory governance, as related to REDD+.

UNDP and the UN-REDD Programme responded to this request by funding an 18 month project to strengthen capacities of indigenous peoples and the Ministry of Environment for their informed participation in the design of the REDD+ mechanism in Peru.

During the implementation of this project, Peru actively participated in and organized regional South-South exchanges on specific REDD+ related topics such as anti-corruption, social and environmental safeguards, and indigenous peoples’ rights, bringing together countries from the region to learn from each other’s experiences and exchange knowledge on the topics. The government of Peru and indigenous peoples’ organizations came together to plan and execute knowledge exchanges and co-lead the project’s steering committee together, resulting in a successful example of government and indigenous peoples’ joint collaboration.

This successful collaboration between indigenous peoples and the government throughout the project has generated best practices for the countries in relation to REDD+, both in the country and internationally to learn from the experience. These results “will positively influence other REDD+ and non-REDD+ processes in Peru”, as stated by Lucas Dourojeanni Álvarez from Peru’s Ministry of Environment.

To learn more about REDD+, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change mechanism that is designed to mitigate climate change through forest conservation, and the UN-REDD Programme’s work in promoting the informed and meaningful involvement of all stakeholders in national and international REDD+ implementation, refer to the UN-REDD Programme website or contact UNDP UN-REDD’s Regional Technical Advisor, Pierre-Yves Guedez or Tim Clairs, UNDP Principal Technical Adviser for REDD at UNDP Geneva.

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