by Itala Yepez, (Community Strategy Director at Permian Global)

July 19, 2023

Co-Designing REDD+ Projects with Local and Indigenous Communities: The Power of FPIC and Its Impact on Lives

The concept of Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) has emerged as a critical component of global strategies to mitigate climate change. However, the success of REDD+ projects hinges on the active participation and consent of local and indigenous communities who are the custodians of the forests. This is where the principle of Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC) and the co-design approach come into play.

Co-designing a REDD+ project means involving local and indigenous communities in every stage of the project, from conception to implementation and monitoring. It’s about recognizing and respecting the rights, knowledge, and wisdom of these communities, and integrating them into the project design and decision-making processes.

Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC) is a principle that protects the rights of Indigenous Peoples to self-determination, participation, and decision-making. It is a specific right that allows indigenous communities to give or withhold consent to a project that may affect them or their territories. This right is recognized in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and is a key principle in international law and jurisprudence related to indigenous peoples.

FPIC enables indigenous peoples to negotiate the terms of externally imposed policies, programs, and activities that directly affect their livelihoods and well-being. It is a continuous process that involves consultation, negotiation, and participation, and it should be implemented in good faith. The goal is to reach an agreement or consensus, but the communities have the right to say no.

FPIC is not only a best practice guideline but also a requirement under international human rights law. When properly implemented, it can lead to stronger, more sustainable and equitable outcomes for all.

When FPIC is well-implemented in REDD+ projects, it can have transformative impacts on the lives of local and indigenous communities.

  • Protection of Rights and Livelihoods: FPIC ensures that the rights of communities to their lands and resources are respected. It protects their livelihoods by preventing projects that could lead to displacement or loss of access to resources.
  • Sustainable Development: By involving communities in project design and decision-making, REDD+ projects can align with local needs and priorities, leading to sustainable development outcomes.
  • Preservation of Cultural Heritage: Indigenous and local communities often have deep cultural ties to their forests. FPIC ensures that these cultural values are recognized and preserved.
  • Conflict Avoidance: FPIC can help avoid conflicts by ensuring that all parties are in agreement before a project begins. This can lead to more stable, successful projects.
  • Climate Change Mitigation: When communities are actively involved in REDD+ projects, they are more likely to be successful in reducing deforestation and forest degradation, thereby contributing to climate change mitigation.

Co-designing REDD+ projects with local and indigenous communities, underpinned by the principle of FPIC, is not just a matter of rights—it’s a matter of effectiveness and sustainability. It’s about building projects that respect the people, the land, and the planet. When done right, it can transform lives, protect our planet, and create a better future for all.

(Courtesy of Itala Yepez)

Co-Designing REDD+ Projects with Local and Indigenous Communities: The Power of FPIC and Its Impact on Lives