San José, Costa Rica, July 8, 2013. Indigenous leaders from Costa Rica expressed their reservations regarding the proposed system of monitoring social and environmental safeguards to be used when implementing Costa Rica’s REDD+ strategy. These concerns were raised at the "Costa Rica REDD + Strategy and Safeguards Process Update" meeting convened by the National Forestry Financing Fund (FONAFIFO). During the meeting, UN-REDD Programme officials, whose base operations are in Panama, presented the proposal. The meeting was held in San José, Costa Rica, on Friday, July 5.
The proposal was criticized for the superficiality with which it addresses the issue of safeguards. As Indigenous leaders believe, these safeguards have been reduced to mere bureaucratic formalities, making light of the value they serve for Indigenous Peoples. The proposal was inconsistent with the discussion held between Indigenous leaders and FONAFIFO.
Another concern raised was the issue of these safeguards only applying to investments in the REDD+ project and not in other government or private investment projects, which the leaders strongly opposed. Indigenous leaders state that these safeguards should apply to all activities related to their Peoples and territories.
Indigenous leaders called on the UN-REDD Programme of the United Nations to become a true guarantor of the rights of Indigenous Peoples, through proper implementation of the safeguards.
Levi Sucre Romero, spokesman for the 19 Indigenous territories involved in the consultation process for the designing of the National REDD+ strategy, expressed concern that a conflict, such as the one in currently active in Panama between the UNREDD program and the National Coordinator Indigenous Peoples of Panama (COONAPIP), might be repeated in Costa Rica.
Sucre Romero reported that in Panama’s case, an independent assessment had found flaws in the design of the National Program. As Sucre Romero explained, an effective process for inclusive participation had not been utilized, which made it difficult for Indigenous People take part in implementing the activities of the joint UNREED project.
In their defense, UNREDD Program representatives of the United Nations have acknowledged that mistakes were made in Panama and understand that safeguards should be implemented differently in Costa Rica. As they have stated, implementation of these safeguards should be in accordance with a Costa Rican context and the agreements reached between the Indigenous Peoples and FONAFIFO.
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