IUCN's Pro-Poor REDD+ Project in Guatemala
The forests of Guatemala are part of the largest continuous forest of the Americas outside Canada’s temperate forests and the Amazon Basin. Guatemala has witnessed high deforestation rates. From 2000 to 2010 the deforestation rate in Guatemala was 1.4% with a forest cover of 34% (FAO, 2011). Guatemala’s population is strongly dependent on forests. In many areas, forest dependent communities have relatively clear land ownership rights.
REDD+ in Guatemala
REDD+ preparations are scaling up in Guatemala despite the fact that the country so far has not receive formal funding from international REDD+ institutions. REDD+ is addressed as part of broader policies that aim to stem deforestation. The government has set up the Forest, Biodiversity and Climate Change Group in order to prepare the national REDD+ strategy (NSTRCD). The group is led by the government and has representatives from government, civil society, indigenous groups, communitarian forest groups and universities. Discussions have taken place between the government and communities on the legal framework for REDD+.
Many NGOs and community organisations have worked on the implementation of REDD+ pilot programs, some of them connected to the voluntary carbon market. Civil society is encouraging the government to provide guidance in the building of more formalised and structured stakeholder engagement as part of the building of a national REDD+ strategy. Pilot projects that are taking place contribute to national planning in concrete ways, such as by developing sub-national baselines. The government can build on these initiatives and develop national deforestation reference levels.
The Pro-Poor REDD Project in Guatemala
In 2010, the pro-poor project established a firm foundation to reach the various objectives of the program. A key focus has been the strengthening of indigenous peoples and forest dependent community organisations to participate in the REDD+ readiness process. The National Alliance of Forest Communities for example has been supported in its work to prepare a communitarian position on forest governance and REDD+. These and other activities have contributed to a process that is encouraging dialogue and discussion between Indigenous Peoples and forest dependent communities in order to have a common position on REDD+ issues.
One of the key areas in which the project is giving direction to the REDD+ readiness process is the preparation of Guatemala’s Readiness Preparation Proposal (RPP). The project has supported the facilitation of multi-stakeholder dialogues as part of the consultation process of the RPP. Also, a stakeholders mapping has been prepared with the government. The project focuses on the development of legal frameworks, carbon rights and the application of the poverty toolkit to analyse forest dependency of communities. Many community organisations and civil society organisations recognise that REDD+ needs a national framework for its implementation and the project is working with these organisations and the government to develop a legal framework.
The Pro-Poor pilot in Petén and Lachua in Guatemala
The pilot of the pro-poor REDD+ project in Guatemala focuses on concession areas in the Maya Biosphere Reserve in Petén in the north of Guatemala and the Lachua Ecoregion in the west. Investors from the voluntary carbon market have shown interest in forests that are conserved as forest concessions or forests that are owned by communities. This interest has raised speculations over the level of payments that REDD+ related activities could generate for these groups.
Indigenous organisations in Guatemala have requested support from organisations such as IUCN to build links with the government. The aim is to ensure that a legal framework is built in such a way that it ensures the recognition and consideration of their interests and rights. Indigenous organisations and civil society organisations in the pilot areas are now in the process of developing a regional deforestation model as a contribution towards the preparation of the MRV system.
A thorough analysis of legal frameworks and carbon rights was prepared in one of the pilot areas. It included at least five land tenure schemes. Not only were local organisations consulted for the analysis of this legal framework, but these grassroots organisations actually were the ones that encouraged and strengthened the government of Guatemala in its readiness activities.
Results of the Pro-Poor Project in Guatemala
The project has progressed in the following areas:
- An analysis of drivers of deforestation was facilitated in the pilots and support was given to the preparation of MRV systems, the development of a sub‐national base line and legal studies.
- The poverty toolkit was applied in the pilot in Lachua.
- An economic analysis was conducted on current benefit distribution mechanisms in the forest sector and published in a report.
- The project is influencing debate on the national forest agenda, supports discussions on a legal framework for REDD+ and contributes to the dissemination of brochures and communication materials.
- Regional discussion about REDD+ were facilitated and key stakeholder platforms for international dialogues
- Training, capacity building workshops and support of local platforms for Indigenous Peoples and forest-dependent communities.
- The project supported the preparation of Guatemala’s RPP and contributed to multi-stakeholder dialogue.
The approach of the community organisations and civil society organisations in the pilot areas has contributed to considerable progress in Guatemala’s REDD+ readiness process. Both the government and indigenous groups now recognise the importance of legal frameworks for the clarification of the rights over carbon.
These are crucial for the building of equitable and effective mechanisms for sharing REDD+ benefits. The framework that is being produced will eventually feed into a proposal for REDD+ financial mechanisms, which will form the basis for later consultations with other key stakeholder groups.