Climate Change and Indigenous Peoples of the Amazon

Indigenous peoples in the Amazon basin are among the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change due to their heavy reliance on natural resources. Furthermore, limited access to the decision-making processes as well as to national and international dialogues on climate change issues limits their participation and funding opportunities through compensatory mechanisms.

However, there are climate change mitigation initiatives that have the potential to improve the livelihoods of indigenous peoples. Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) is a global effort to create financial value for the carbon stored in forests, offering incentives for developing countries to reduce emissions from forested lands and invest in low-carbon paths to sustainable development.

In addition to mitigate the effects of climate change, REDD also offers an opportunity to protect the forest and reduce poverty among forest dependent indigenous peoples. Nevertheless, capacity building is a key factor for indigenous people and can represent a bottle neck.

The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has approved a project to provide support and technical assistance to indigenous peoples in the Amazon through the project Climate Change and Indigenous Peoples of the Amazon. The project will be implemented in four countries of the Amazon basin in collaboration with Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and Woods Hole Research Center (WHRC). Among its main objectives is to promote training and effective participation of indigenous communities in the process of consultation, negotiation and decision-making on climate change issues in the Amazon basin. In addition, the project also includes the implementation of at least two “hands on” REDD + pilots to consolidate the training with indigenous communities.

This project is unique and innovative as it will be executed directly by indigenous regional and national organizations. In addition, it is in line with the IDB Indigenous Peoples Policy and Strategy and the commitments made at the Fifth Annual Meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative to promote the capacity of indigenous peoples and in particular the development of indigenous leaders to facilitate their participation in processes of consultation and negotiation.