Rights & Tenure in the News »
REDD Monitor: COONAPIP, Panama’s Indigenous Peoples Coordinating Body, denounces UN-REDD
COONAPIP, the National Coordinating Body of Indigenous Peoples in Panama, has written a series of extremely critical letters about the UN-REDD process in Panama. The process “has been riddled with incongruences and inconsistencies”, COONAPIP wrote in a letter dated 20 June 2012, adding, “We feel used in this process.”
Indigenous Peoples in Panama are well organised, with democratically elected leaders who all participate in the national coordinating body, COONAPIP. And as COONAPIP’s letter points out, “Indigenous Districts and Territories contain an estimated 85% of all remaining forests outside protected areas, and as such play a central role in any proposed REDD+ initiative or mechanism.”
COONAPIP’s letter, which is signed by Betanio Chiquidama, President and General Cacique, Emberá Wounaan District, and Elivardo Membache, Secretary and General Cacique, General Congress of Emberá and Wounaan Collective Lands, asks the question:
“If we are having such problems in a process that is just beginning and the agencies involved behave in ways that are fundamentally inconsistent with the principles that are supposed to apply to REDD, what can we expect when the REDD strategy actually begins to be implemented?”
The letter provides a timeline of COONAPIP’s involvement in the REDD process. It all got off to a bad start in September 2009, when Panama’s National Environment Authority (ANAM) announced that Indigenous Peoples had endorsed Panama’s REDD strategy. COONAPIP were understandably angry at this, and set up an Indigenous Working Group to “analyse the deficiencies of the REDD documents,” from an indigenous perspective.
In October 2009, COONAPIP, ANAM and UN-REDD agreed on a “consensus document” that included 19 points and three annexes to be incorporated into the REDD document. On the basis of this agreement, UN-REDD provided US$5.3 million to the Government of Panama to formulate a REDD strategy. COONAPIP was supposed to be directly involved in this process.
In May 2011, COONAPIP prepared a strategic plan (PEIP) aimed at strengthening COONAPIP. Three months later, COONAPIP delivered this plan to UN-REDD, and COONAPIP states that in a meeting on 21 September 2011, UN-REDD agreed to sign a Cooperation Agreement with COONAPIP with a budget of US$1,789,845.95. A few days later, Vanessa Retana of the UNDP Regional Centre, publicly announced that UN-REDD would transfer US$1.7 million to COONAPIP.
But COONAPIP received none of the money. As a result, by early 2012, COONAPIP could not pay their rent, or their staff. UNEP has subsequently provided US$18,000, so that COONAPIP can afford to rent an office for one year. In April 2012, UN-REDD and ANAM presented a work plan for 2012, that includes US$200,000 to strengthen COONAPIP and US$69,390 for consulting Indigenous Peoples on REDD. “They never consulted COONAPIP about the budget, and, needless to say, those amounts bare no relation to what was negotiated and agreed on previously,” COONAPIP points out in its letter.
Predictably enough, nothing about any of this is available on the UN-REDD website. COONAPIP is listed there as a primary partner of UN-REDD in Panama (together with ANAM). But while COONAPIP designated a technical commission headed by the organisation’s President, Cacique Betanio Chiquidama, COONAPIP complains that neither UN-REDD nor ANAM have designated a counterpart to work with COONAPIP’s technical commission. “At this point COONAPIP has lost all communication with UN-REDD and ANAM,” the letter states.
On 23 August 2012, Gabriel Labbate, a Senior Programme Officer at the UN-REDD Programme in Panama, circulated UN-REDD’s response to COONAPIP. Labbate acknowledges “a serious disagreement” with COONAPIP and adds that, “We would like to take this opportunity to reaffirm the commitment of the UN-REDD Programme to full transparency in its operations and to the free, informed and full participation of Indigenous Peoples in REDD.”
But an Annex to the UN-REDD letter disputes COONAPIP’s version of the events leading to the disagreement and denies that UN-REDD ever agreed to provide US$1.7 million to COONAPIP:
“It is crucial to indicate that the PEIP’s budget significantly exceeds UN-REDD´s budgetary allocation for participation of indigenous groups and that several of the PEIP’s activities lie outside the UN-REDD framework.”
COONAPIP wrote a second letter to UN-REDD in which they note that, “The spirit of the PEIP is for COONAPIP to become a counterpart responsible for the full and effective participation of indigenous peoples in the formulation and implementation of the REDD Strategy in Panama. To make this possible, COONAPIP must be strengthened as it has been insisting, appealing to articles 3 and 4 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”
In the meantime, on 24 August 2012, COONAPIP issued an Official Notice denouncing ANAM, UNDP, UNEP, FAO and the World Bank for their failure to comply with UNDRIPs in the UN-REDD process.
COONAPIP's letter, UN-REDD's response, COONAPIP's second letter, and COONAPIP's Official Notice, are all posted on REDD-Monitor.
Posted By Rose Davis at 4:43pm on August 30, 2012
This blog may contain links to external websites. These links should not be construed as endorsements by Rights and Resources of the content present. They are provided for informational purposes only.