A Step Forward at COP 23: The Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Platform

The LCIP Platform originated from a decision taken two years ago at COP 21 in Paris. Decision 1/CP.21, Paragraph 135 refers to the following:

"[The Conference of the Parties] Recognizes the need to strengthen knowledge, technologies, practices and efforts of local communities and indigenous peoples related to addressing and responding to climate change and establishes a platform for the exchange of experiences and sharing of best practices on mitigation and adaptation in a holistic and integrated manner;"

By Luis Barquin-Valle

Bonn, Germany - November 15, 2017:
Today, COP 23 reached one of the major priorities expected for this year’s climate negotiations: a decision to operationalize the Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Platform (LCIP Platform) that was part of the Paris Agreement. This is a step forward in recognizing the knowledge systems and efforts of local communities and indigenous peoples in addressing climate change. The accomplishment is also a much-needed signal on the importance of including non-party stakeholders to raise the ambition of countries to achieve the climate commitments laid out in the Paris Agreement. This outcome is also a milestone in advancing the UNFCCC’s commitment to respect and promote the rights and interests of indigenous peoples and local communities.

This decision on the LCIP Platform includes a defined purpose, function and initial steps to set up the structure through a facilitative working group. Among its functions, the platform is expected to build the capacities of indigenous peoples and local communities (IPLCs) for greater engagement in UNFCCC processes in the context of the Paris Agreement and other climate change-related processes. It will also facilitate stronger and more ambitious climate action by IPLCs that could contribute to the achievement of Nationally Determined Contributions. One of the points discussed on this agenda item was designing a non-negotiating body in accordance to the UNFCCC’s rules of procedure. In other words, it was important to create a space for dialogue under the convention with equal status between IPLCs and Parties. This required innovative thinking and drawing on past precedents.  

Beyond the content of this decision, which deserves its own full article of analysis, this negotiation was a success for many key contributing factors. The participation of IPLCs was always constructive, proactive and clear. The negotiations were conducted in a way that was transparent, inclusive and receptive to the views of non-party stakeholders. The meetings were open to observers and the negotiators frequently consulted representatives of indigenous peoples’ organizations on their views related to specific aspects of the text under consideration. The co-facilitators and secretariat performed their roles exceptionally in facilitating the discussions and managing the time effectively to achieve the expected outcome. And finally, the full commitment and leadership of Fiji COP23 Presidency together with the chair of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA), were also key to reach this result.

As 2018 approaches, more attention will be devoted to the finalization of the Paris Agreement Implementation Guidelines and the Facilitative Dialogue. The LCIP Platform will be in very early stages, but it will be an opportunity to test how the Platform could contribute to decisions on national actions, including country revisions of their NDCs and the Global Stocktake process. This is an opportunity for incremental progress to strengthen the vertical and horizontal connections needed to build a more equitable and inclusive climate governance.

Today we celebrate a big accomplishment for indigenous peoples and local communities in the UNFCCC.  Congratulations to all the friends of the LCIP Platform, including Fiji COP23 Presidency, SBSTA chair, Ecuador, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Colombia, Bolivia, Brazil, the European Union, Norway, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the United States, China, Indonesia, the Solomon Islands, and all the negotiators whose commitment made this possible.

Luis Barquin-Valle works with the DGM Global Executing Agency at Conservation International.

Celebrating the International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples - August 9

By Johnson Cerda and Adam Grider

Today, August 9, 2017, the Dedicated Grant Mechanism for Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities (DGM) is excited to celebrate the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. This date was chosen by the UN to recognize the first meeting of the UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations, which developed the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). This year marks the 10th anniversary of the adoption of UNDRIP, which is a historic document establishing standards for the collective and individual rights of indigenous peoples.

UNDRIP enshrines the rights of indigenous peoples to self-determination and control over traditional lands, territories, and resources, among many others. These rights are particularly relevant in the context of forestry and climate change. Deforestation and forest degradation are key contributors to climate change, and they increase the vulnerability of forest-dependent populations and their indigenous/traditional knowledge systems. Unfortunately, by attempting to protect these forests, some initiatives have cut off the access of indigenous peoples to their traditional lands, territories, and resources.

While climate change mitigation, including through the reduction of emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+), is an important goal, it cannot be sustainably achieved without the full and effective participation of indigenous peoples and local communities. Indigenous leaders, together with the Forest Investment Program, created the DGM, an innovative system that gives communities direct access to climate finance and technical support so that they can advance their own priorities in the pursuit of sustainable forest management. This includes support for strengthened legal recognition and land tenure, increased role in climate- and forestry-related decision-making, and development of sustainable livelihoods. Through their engagement with the DGM, indigenous peoples are better able to fill their traditional roles as stewards of the forests, simultaneously protecting nature and their own rights.

Additional information about the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples can be found on the UN’s website, and a live webcast of their celebration is available through UN Web TV from 3 - 6 p.m. EST. To learn more about the DGM, please explore our website (www.dgmglobal.org) or contact us at dgmglobal@conservation.org.

Representatives of indigenous peoples and local communities from all over Latin America gathered in Minas Gerais, Brazil in June 2017 to exchange knowledge and enhance their collaboration in the region. Photo Credit: DGM Brazil

Representatives of indigenous peoples and local communities from all over Latin America gathered in Minas Gerais, Brazil in June 2017 to exchange knowledge and enhance their collaboration in the region.
Photo Credit: DGM Brazil

Looking ahead to IPLC engagement in the GCF, and reflecting on IPLC engagement in the UNFCCC

By Kimaren Ole Riamit

The Dedicated Grant Mechanism for Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities (DGM) of the Forest Investment Program (FIP) hosted its first Global Learning and Knowledge Exchange workshop in Marrakech, Morocco, on the sidelines of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference, COP22.  The FIP-DGM is one of the Climate Investment Funds implemented by the World Bank Group. 

Kimaren Ole Riamit facilitated a session on IPLC engagement in the GCF at the DGM Global Exchange in Marrakech.

Kimaren Ole Riamit facilitated a session on IPLC engagement in the GCF at the DGM Global Exchange in Marrakech.

The workshop brought together a rich and diverse array of actors drawn from 15 countries comprising of leaders and representatives of Indigenous Peoples and local communities (IPLCs) from FIP/DGM beneficiary countries, members of the DGM Global Steering Committee (GSC) and National and Global Executing Agencies of the DGM.

Overall, the three-day sharing provided an overview of the DGM, and the UNFCCC framework of negotiations, focusing on the outcomes of the Paris Agreement.  The role of the Green Climate Fund (GCF) was highlighted in an analysis of the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) and the landscape of climate change finance more generally, exploring emerging opportunities and challenges for IPLCs.

The UNFCCC framework of negotiations is a complex space with a multiplicity of actors, possessing differential power and influence, pursuing overlapping, competing and often conflicting interests, enacted within highly technical processes and themes. Enhancing the knowledge and technical capacity of IPLCs to effectively engage in these processes, and strengthening their networking potential is critical. Understanding how IPLCs as a constituency are organized and coordinated under the International Indigenous Peoples Forum on Climate Change (IIPFCC) to both influence the negotiations and provide forward and backward linkages from the global, regional and national levels was equally invaluable.

One of the major decisions of the Paris Agreement is the Nationally Determined Contributions; countries’ domestic commitments for climate actions related to mitigation and adaptation are to be undertaken post-2020 to respond to the global emission reduction ambition challenge and the need for fair share of contribution by all State Parties. The five-yearly NDCs reports submitted to the UNFCCC Secretariat and reviewed under the “Global Stock-take” arrangement include information relating to agriculture, forestry and other land uses.  Increasingly, national REDD+ programme outcomes are also feeding into the NDC reports. Despite the very strong relationship between IPLCs’ livelihoods systems and the sectors targeted by the NDCs reports, very few of the more than 192 NDCs submitted make reference to IPLCs. Hence the urgent need to lobby for enhanced recognition of IPLCs’ rights and their full and effective participation in the development of NDCs.

The Paris Agreement, and Decision 135 in particular, has provided for the recognition and respect for human rights, including the rights of Indigenous Peoples; underscored the value of IPs’ knowledge systems in climate change mitigation and adaptation, and has called for establishment of an IPs’ Platform for knowledge exchange. In addition, other UNFCCC COP decisions (Cancun and Warsaw) had also provided for safeguards and community based monitoring for IPLCs. The main and immediate challenge remains, moving from mere recognition of IPLCs’ rights in text to actual implementation and respect for such rights.

The track record for meeting this challenge is not good.  The history of development practice is one littered with untold stories of exclusion, exploitation, marginalization and entrenchment of inequality. The inequality relates to privileging of certain knowledge systems and worldviews, livelihoods systems, and rights, often at the expense of others. The present state of the IPLCs of the world is a product of such flowed development pathways.

How has international climate change finance—specifically the GCF—departed from this negative history of exclusion? Overall, global climate finance from both public and private sectors is growing, reaching at least $391 billion in 2014, with a significant portion (93%) of these resources utilized in mitigation efforts, leaving less than 10% for adaptation related interventions.  And, while there is a noted positive trend towards enhancing direct access of climate-related financing by IPLCs, the GCF commitments are still negligible.

While the GCF aspires to be a new, transformational and paradigm shifting development pathway, reference to IPs only appears twice in its current policy documents. Once, in the governing instrument and once, within its interim safeguard standards. Furthermore, contrary to emerging good practices of direct representation of IPLCs in decision-making arrangements, direct access to financial resources, establishment of stand-alone policy and FPIC as an instrument to facilitate engagement, the GCF has yet to consider and adopt such good practices. With respect to engagement with and safeguarding the rights of IPLCs, the GCF could be said to be below ‘business as usual’.

The DGM might serve as an important example for the GCF, whose Board will begin its final meeting of the year [tomorrow].  The DGM is welcomed by IPLCs as a unique and innovative model for engaging with and empowering forest dependent indigenous peoples and local communities for which other Climate financing entities could borrow a leaf. The Dedicated Grant Mechanism puts IPLCs on the driver’s seat in terms of access to climate funding grants and decision-making related to interventions supported through the grants. The FIP-DGM is growing in both portfolio size and countries reached, with $80 million allocated for 14 FIP countries; however this is only a first step to meeting financial resources needed by IPLCs to adapt and mitigate climate change within their territories.

Given this reality, Indigenous Peoples are calling for the GCF to enhance complementarity, coherence and additionality with respect to UNFCCC COP decisions, international good practices such as the DGM, and to go beyond the ‘business as usual’ scenario in dealing with IPLCs’ rights and concerns. Specifically, the GCF should develop and adopt an Indigenous Peoples Policy* to be enabled through clear consultative arrangement that incorporates: i) an Indigenous Peoples’ Advisory Group to the GCF, ii) a Focal Point on Indigenous Peoples issues within the GCF Secretariat, iii) a dedicated active Observer for IPs to the GCF board and iv) a dedicated grant facility within the GCF for IPLCs.

*Editor's note: After this blog was published, the GCF Board voted to have an indigenous peoples policy.

Kimaren Ole Riamit is the Executive Director of Indigenous Livelihoods Enhancement Partners (ILEPA), based in Kenya. He facilitated a session on IPLC engagement in the GCF at the DGM Global Exchange in Marrakech.


The views expressed in this blog are exclusively those of the author.

MPIDO and DGM show how capacity building for climate action reaches African IPLC organizations on the ground

By Johnson Cerda and Regina Harlig

COP22, known as the COP of Action, will take key steps to build and mobilize the capacity of developing countries to meet and enhance their 2020 climate targets.  Recognition of the essential role that indigenous peoples and local communities play in climate change action is increasing, and the financial resources that are in proportion to that role must follow. 

The start of COP22 in Marrakech coincided with the ratification of the Paris Agreement, which acknowledges both the need to respect indigenous peoples’ rights in climate action, and the role that traditional knowledge, knowledge of indigenous peoples and local knowledge systems can play in supporting these actions.  While indigenous peoples and local communities are often included in REDD+ project-level efforts, they have not been fully included in REDD+ policy and strategy arenas, despite their key role as forest stewards.  Investment in the capacity building of all stakeholders is key to ensuring that the best practices generated by indigenous peoples and local communities are translated into broader policy commitments at the national level.

The Forest Investment Program (FIP), which funds the DGM, and the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) are two such REDD+ funding initiatives with capacity building components that reach indigenous peoples and local communities across Africa at the grassroots level.  At a recent COP22 side event at the Indigenous Peoples and Local Community Pavilion, representatives of three African DGM country projects shared the stage with the Kenya-based Mainyoito Pastoralists Integrated Development Organization (MPIDO), to offer their own experiences in REDD+ capacity building for indigenous peoples and local communities. 

At the event, Daniel Sapit explained the growing role of the FCPF of his organization, MPIDO, which is dedicated to combatting the marginalization of Maa pastoralists by focusing on issues such as food security, climate change mitigation, governance and conflict transformation, natural resource management, gender equity, and HIV and AIDS. Idrissa Zebba, chair of the DGM Burkina Faso National Steering Committee (NSC), Hayford Doudu, chair of the DGM Ghana NSC, and Guy Moussele-Diseken, chair of the DGM interim committee in Republic of Congo, provided updates on the status of community level capacity building in the context of the DGM projects in their countries. 

Investment in the capacity building of all stakeholders is key to ensuring that the best practices generated by indigenous peoples and local communities are translated into broader policy commitments at the national level.

The FCPF Capacity Building Program (CBP) originated from a series of regional dialogues between the FCPF and indigenous peoples’ representatives that began in 2007, and resulted in a formal request to support forest dependent indigenous peoples in building their capacity to engage in REDD+ activities at the national and regional levels.   Phase I of the FCFP CBP was established to provide forest-dependent indigenous people and local communities, and southern civil society organizations (CSOs) with information, knowledge and awareness on REDD+. The program was conceived to be demand-driven, in which forest-dependent indigenous peoples and southern CSOs made proposals to the FCPF based on their needs.  MPIDO was among the first 18 indigenous peoples’ organizations and seven CSOs from Asia, Latin America and Africa that received FCPF CBP funding for awareness-raising workshops, publication of training manuals and capacity building activities.  Selected as one of six organizations to implement Phase II of the FCPF CPB, MPIDO will be responsible for selecting and supporting small REDD+ capacity building projects in 18 African countries, including countries where DGM projects are being planned or implemented: Burkina Faso, Democratic Republic of Congo, Republic of Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Mozambique.  Read more about MPIDO’s project here.

Like the FCPF, the FIP provides funding for building the capacity of indigenous peoples and local communities, some of which is channeled through DGM projects in the 14 participating countries in Africa Asia and Latin America. 

The DGM takes a two-pronged approach to capacity building for IPLCs.  At a national level, DGM provides support for indigenous peoples and local community organizations to prepare and submit proposals for local climate change projects in countries such as Burkina Faso, Ghana, and Republic of Congo. A National Steering Committee of indigenous peoples and local community representatives then selects which proposals are funded.  National Executing Agencies (CSOs chosen by the National Steering Committees in each country) provides support to all stakeholders at each stage of the process.

In both Ghana and Republic of Congo, the DGM has begun consultations with communities in order to prepare them for eventually submitting their own grant proposals.   Burkina Faso, one of the first DGM Country Projects to be approved, opened its first call for proposals in June 2016, and received over 650 proposals.  Selected proposal will begin implementation later in November. 

At the global level, the DGM Global Steering Committee organizes regional and global trainings, bringing indigenous peoples and local community representatives together to strengthen networks, share knowledge and build capacity for coordinated climate action across IPLC organizations.  With the support of the Global Executing Agency. As an example, prior to the COP22, the DGM organized global and regional trainings on various aspects of climate policy and climate finance.  Representatives of the GSC and other training participants can then share information and skills with their own organizations and communities. 

As countries prepare to implement the Paris Agreement, projects like the one that MPIDO is implementing through the FCPF and that Burkina Faso, Ghana and Republic of Congo are implementing through the DGM show how funding for capacity building to engage in climate action can reach indigenous peoples and local community organizations on the ground.  As Hayford Duodo of DGM Ghana observed, “Whatever [we] do in the community has some implication somewhere [else]… The forest is connected to the global [scale].”  The panelists emphasized the significant local, national and global role that indigenous peoples and local communities play in providing climate change solutions, through the coordinated support of initiatives like the FIP and FCPF.  The implementation efforts by MPIDO and the African DGM countries suggest even greater opportunities for partnership, whether it’s working with national and regional indigenous networks to inform climate change mitigation and adaptation action at the national and global levels, or building the capacity of members of the communities to sustainably manage forests.


Johnson Cerda is the Technical Director for the DGM Global Executing Agency.  Regina Harlig leads communications for the DGM Global Executing Agency. 

What the IUCN WCC decisions mean for IPLCs

By Johnson Cerda

English translation coming soon.

La IUCN es una de las organizaciones ambientalistas más antiguas del mundo creada en 1948. Tiene una membresía de agencias de gobierno, y organizaciones no gubernamentales nacionales e internacionales. El Congreso Mundial de Conservación se realiza cada cuatro años y esta vez se realizó en el mes de Septiembre en Honolulu, Hawái, USA. Participaron alrededor de 45 representantes de los pueblos indígenas de América Latina y el Caribe, Norte América, Rusia, Asia, África y el Pacifico. Luego de una fuerte incidencia en los miembros de la IUCN los pueblos indígenas lograron avanzar en algunas de sus demandas.

“Los compromisos de Hawái” como se le llama a la declaración, reconocen los aportes, valores y la sabiduría de los pueblos indígenas para fortalecer la cultura de la conservación, además consideran a los pueblos indígenas y las mujeres de las comunidades locales como solución al desafío climático ya que están intrínsecamente involucrados en la adaptación y  mitigación del cambio climático.

Pueblos Indígenas como miembros de la IUCN. Uno de los temas más importantes que se aprobó después de 16 años de discusión es la nueva categoría de la membresía de las organizaciones de los pueblos indígenas. Participé al igual que otros colegas en un grupo de contacto para escuchar comentarios finales con elfin de presentar la moción a la Asamblea para su aprobación. La Asamblea de la IUCN aprobó la enmienda al artículo 4 cuyo texto de la inclusión se leería así: Los miembros de la IUCN……f. “las organizaciones de pueblos indígenas son instituciones y asociaciones establecidas por los pueblos indígenas para el progreso de las comunidades indígenas”, art.7 “Las agencias de gobierno, organizaciones no gubernamentales nacionales e internacionales, las organizaciones de los pueblos indígenas y afiliados llegaran a ser miembros de la IUCN…..” Esto quiere decir que las organizaciones de los pueblos indígenas pueden aplicar para su membresía a la IUCN y deben considerar los otros requisitos entre los cuales esta trabajar en temas de conservación. 

Temas pendientes. Colegas de Centroamérica organizaron una sesión para evaluar la “Promesa de Sydney” como resultado del Congreso Mundial de Áreas Protegidas realizado en 2014 y que se organiza cada 10 años. En esta promesa se incluye avanzar en la inclusión de los derechos de los pueblos indígenas a sus tierras, territorios y recursos, la participación de las mujeres y jóvenes indígenas en acciones de conservación, categoría indígena, etc. 

En esta sesión la IUCN regional de Mesoamérica y el caribe mencionó que ha incluido en sus actividades el derecho al consentimiento libre previo e informado, además de la participación de las mujeres en sus iniciativas. Colegas Centroamericanos mencionaron que muchas veces las políticas aprobadas a nivel internacional o en las mismas instituciones poco se conocen a nivel local donde se implementan las iniciativas, por tanto se requiere reforzar entrenando a los técnicos locales. La participación de los jóvenes aún es un tema que se debe reforzar y es parte de la promesa de Sydney; en Hawái la edad promedio de los participantes estaba un poco alta, éramos pocos los jóvenes. El día martes de la segunda semana durante el Congreso Mundial de Conservación ingresaron muchos niños y jóvenes pero parecía que solo por un momento. 

Hay mucho camino por recorrer aun y es importante trabajar en la definición de ciertos indicadores para evaluar el cumplimiento de la promesa de Sydney e igualmente para lo que surja en Hawái.

Mociones adoptadas en Hawái. Algunas de las mociones adoptadas incluyen a los pueblos indígenas y requiere el esfuerzo de los miembros en la fase de implementación. 

La moción 26 que tiene que ver con “Áreas protegidas y otras áreas importantes para la biodiversidad en relación con las actividades industriales y el desarrollo de infraestructura perjudiciales para el medio ambiente”, en esta moción se exhorta a los gobiernos evitar actividades industriales y desarrollo de infraestructura que afecte lugares sagrados y territorios donde se haga conservación. Algunos han indicado que es una decisión que ayudaría a prohibir minería en áreas sagradas y territorios indígenas, pero otros señalan que como se haría cumplir cuando solo se exhorta a los gobiernos, mucho trabajo por delante en esta materia.

La moción 29 tiene que ver con el“reconocimiento y respeto de los territorios y áreas conservados por pueblos indígenas y comunidades locales (ICCA) que se traslapan con áreas protegidas”, aquí básicamente se pide que los Estados reconozcan las áreas comunitarias de conservación cuando se traslapen territorios indígenas con las áreas protegidas y que se elaboren orientaciones de buenas prácticas en conservación. Sobre este tema en el Congreso de Parques Nacionales y otras Áreas Protegidas de Bariloche se señala los Territorios Indígenas de Conservación (TICs), y el mismo compromiso de Hawái señala también los territorios Bioculturales – una mezcla de biodiversidad y culturas-, el lenguaje es diverso y que bien podrían ser parte de las categoría indígena que vemos a continuación.

La moción 88 trata sobre el “Sistema de categorías de áreas de gestión colectiva indígenas en Centro América”; para implementar esta decisión se establecerá un grupo de trabajo que construya una propuesta de un sistema de categorías de áreas de gestión colectiva y aparentemente no será solamente una categoría indígena sino que incluirá una diversidad que se ajusten a diferentes contextos. 

La moción 97 trata de “Salvaguardar las tierras, territorios y recursos indígenas frente a desarrollos insostenibles”; para la implementación se creará un grupo de trabajo que consulte a diversos sectores para evaluar el alcance y los enfoques en cuanto al respeto de los derechos de los pueblos indígenas a la toma de decisiones en torno a sus tierras, territorios y recursos. 

Si bien se han alcanzado algunos logros, quedan aún muchos asuntos pendientes en relación a los pueblos indígenas que se deberían impulsar en próximas reuniones de la IUCN. Ahora, los pueblos indígenas como nuevos miembros de la IUCN pondrán mayor esfuerzo en la implementación de los compromisos de Hawái. Si no se pone esfuerzo en la implementación, creo que seguiremos viéndonos en las próximas reuniones y hablando de los mismos temas.

Reporte de Vicky Tauli-Corpuz. La relatora especial sobre los derechos de los pueblos indígenas presentó un reporte sobre “Conservación y los derechos de los pueblos indígenas”, ella señala que las áreas protegidas tienen un potencial para proteger la biodiversidad y beneficiar la humanidad pero a la vez algunos casos han sido asociados con violación a los derechos humanos de los pueblos indígenas. Recomiendo leer el reporte

Pude escuchar en varias sesiones enfatizar el tema de los conocimientos, sabiduría y los derechos de los pueblos indígenas, pienso por un momento que se ha desarrollado bastante el discurso pero creo que hace falta implementarlo en la práctica. 

Esto es un paso que se suma al reconocimiento de los derechos de los pueblos indígenas, a que exista una verdadera gobernanza con participación indígena de la gestión de las áreas protegidas.  


Johnson Cerda is the Technical Director for the DGM Global Executing Agency.

Training builds capacity of IPLCs in Africa to engage in climate negotiations

Workshop participants visited community forestry projects in Sapouy, just outside of the capital of Ouagadougou, to observe sustainable forest management techniques.

Workshop participants visited community forestry projects in Sapouy, just outside of the capital of Ouagadougou, to observe sustainable forest management techniques.

By Regina Harlig

Part of the mission of the Dedicated Grant Mechanism for Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities (DGM)—a special funding window under the Forest Investment Program—is to support the full and effective participation of indigenous peoples and local communities in the effort to reduce deforestation and forest degradation.

One of the ways that the DGM does this is through making grants to Indigenous Peoples and Local Community (IPLC) projects in FIP pilot countries; another way is through strengthening the knowledge, skills, and connections of IPLC individuals and networks in both FIP and non-FIP countries, through a series of regional trainings on climate change.  The first, for the Africa region, took place in Burkina Faso from July 19th-23rd.  Organized by Conservation International, the DGM Global Executing Agency (GEA), in partnership with IUCN, the Burkina Faso National Executing Agency, the workshop brought together a diverse group of 36 participants representing 14 countries and three African IPLC networks.

IPLCs possess valuable knowledge for managing and safeguarding forests, but there is often a disconnect between this knowledge and international fora.  Although some estimates put IPLC representation at an all-time high at the 21st annual UNFCCC Conference of the Parties (COP21) in Paris (thanks in large part to the efforts of an initiative funded by the government of Norway, which supported the travel of more than 160 IPLCs to Paris for COP21), this represents only a tiny fraction of the 30,372 participants that had registered with the UNFCCC to attend COP21. 

“[At] the COPs I attended before, I didn’t have the actual capacity to negotiate or know how to participate. From this workshop I learned a lot about how I can be more involved in the process, and how even after the COP how I can engage with the government to bring back knowledge to my community, and make recommendations at the national level.”
— Vital Bambanze, President of the Indigenous Peoples of Africa Coordinating Committee (IPACC) and Director of Batwa organization Unissons nous pour la Promotion des Batwa (UNIPROBA)

Ali Aii Shatu is a Mboro pastoralist from Cameroon, and a member of the Mbororo Social and Cultural Development Association (MBOSCUDA).  Speaking of the importance of strengthening IPLC participation in international climate policy, she said, “Presently, I think most of us have very little impact at the national level; I think If we participate globally, our importance and role will be better recognized at the national level.”

For those IPLCs that do make it to UNFCCC COPs, the barriers are still many: confusion over the plethora of acronyms that they’re confronted with, lack of preparation for participating in the COP, and a feeling of limited influence for those participating as observers.  During the week-long training, participants received training in negotiation skills from Samuel Dotse, a civil society advisor to the Ghana UNFCCC delegation, and a former member of the DGM Transitional Steering Committee.  To practice these skills, participants were divided into groups of negotiators representing a fictitious country, giving a statement on their plans to reduce air pollution levels to international standards, while ensuring that the burden of reductions were distributed among all countries in the negotiation.

Vital Bambanze is President of the Indigenous Peoples of Africa Coordinating Committee (IPACC) and Director of Batwa organization Unissons nous pour la Promotion des Batwa (UNIPROBA), and was a support person for the Burundi delegation at COP21, representing the Ministry of Water, Land Management and Urban Planning; many others attending the training have also participated in past COPs.  “[At] the COPs I attended before, I didn’t have the actual capacity to negotiate or know how to participate. From this workshop I learned a lot about how I can be more involved in the process, and how even after the COP how I can engage with the government to bring back knowledge to my community, and make recommendations at the national level. I also have more information regarding how to prepare for COP and what type of information you must bring to the negotiations,” he said.

While workshop participants expressed that many communities are mobilizing themselves to engage in climate policy and climate action, they still face many challenges: information often does not make it the local level—even when it is intended for IPLCs, lack of electricity, low internet bandwidth, and poor cellphone service can mean that they never access it.  Banks and other funders often will not work with IPLCs directly.  Language barriers often make coordination and information-sharing across Africa countries difficult.  The work of the DGM and exchanges such as this one seek to address the challenges facing IPLCs in Africa in coordinating with each other and engaging in climate change policy by bringing them face-to-face.

While they were together, participants took part in a network mapping exercise, giving them an opportunity to visualize the the potential for coordination within and across networks, and to identify ways to mobilize for climate policy and action. Participants also learned more about the basics of climate change, the UNFCCC process and the history of REDD+, and visited community forestry projects in Sapouy, just outside of the capital of Ouagadougou, to observe sustainable forest management techniques.

Five of the regional training participants will attend a global workshop hosted by the DGM-GEA in Morocco immediately prior to the COP, joining representatives from Latin America and Asia-Pacific, and will participate in COP22 country delegates, advisors to governments, or civil society observers, armed with their additional training from this workshop.  In 2017, two additional trainings will be held for Latin American and Asia-Pacific, in preparation for COP23.


Regina Harlig is the Senior Manager for Capacity Building and Knowledge Management at Conservation International, and leads communications for the DGM Global Executing Agency.