Indigenous groups to plan projects to reduce deforestation in Amazon, curb climate change

May 24, 2011


Coordinator of the Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon Basin: Jenny Vasalaz,, (593-02) 3226-744
Environmental Defense Fund: Jennifer Andreassen,, 202-572-3387
Woods Hole Research Center: Elizabeth Braun,, 508-444-1509

(Washington – May 24, 2011) Indigenous groups in the Amazon Rainforest will develop plans to execute pilot projects to reduce emissions from deforestation to combat climate change, through an innovative agreement announced in Washington today between the Coordinator of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon Basin (COICA) and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).

The project, “Pueblos Indígenas de la Cuenca Amazónica frente al Cambio Climático” (Indigenous Peoples of the Amazon Basin to Combat Climate Change) is funded by the IDB, and gives a major boost to indigenous-led efforts to combat climate change. Similar projects that involve indigenous peoples and reducing deforestation have historically been directed by outside non-governmental groups, but this puts indigenous groups, led by COICA, at the helm of the project’s planning and execution.

The project will focus on three areas that will increase Indigenous groups’ participation in combating climate change:

  1. Training Indigenous Peoples through “workshops” in methods of Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+), and monitoring carbon levels and other indicators in their forests
  2. Increasing and ensuring Indigenous groups’ participation, interaction and consultation in national and regional dialogues
  3. Developing plans to execute two REDD+ pilot projects

“These consultation models, Indigenous teams for forest carbon monitoring, and Indigenous-led REDD+ pilot projects will provide national policy makers with the concrete examples and information they need to develop successful REDD+ policy,” said COICA Technical Manager Juan Reátegui. “We anticipate this project will create technical and political capabilities in our leaders and chiefs in the member organizations of COICA, which will allow them to enter into constructive dialogues in an intercultural manner between governments, civil society, and Indigenous Peoples.”

The project was officially launched today at the IDB offices in Washington with presentations by COICA and the IDB. It was finalized in a signing ceremony in Quito, Ecuador, on April 20th.

“Perhaps most importantly, this project will promote the recovery of our traditional knowledge, which can then be put to use for climate change mitigation and adaptation, defend our territorial collective rights, and the sustainable use of natural resources in our territories,” said Reátegui. “The workshops will develop new models of free, prior, and informed consent to be used as examples for other international organizations, governments, programs, and development projects.”

U.S.-based environmental non-profit Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) has been working with COICA for the past year and a half to help the project through the IDB approval process, and will be working as advisers with Woods Hole Research Center (WHRC) in helping develop the program’s curriculum, providing technical expertise, and identifying financing.

“This project is a great opportunity for COICA and the Indigenous movement to show by example how Indigenous Peoples can contribute significantly to the development of REDD+ projects and REDD+ policy that are beneficial to Indigenous groups,” said Chris Meyer, EDF’s Amazon Basin Project Coordinator.

The project is also noteworthy in that it highlights the unique role that Indigenous Peoples have to play in the development of national systems for REDD+ forest carbon monitoring.
“With lifetimes of hands-on experience drawn from across vast tracts of Amazon rainforest, Indigenous groups are well-placed to provide leadership in efforts to measure and monitor their forests – forests which they, themselves, have sustainably managed for centuries,” said WHRC Assistant Scientist Wayne Walker.

Learn more about the project at:
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COICA ( represents and coordinates more than 390 indigenous groups that control 10,268,471 km2 of land in the Amazon basin. COICA organizes activities and political lobbying for its member organizations in Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Venezuela, Colombia, Suriname, Guyana, French Guiana and Brazil.

Environmental Defense Fund (, a leading national nonprofit organization, creates transformational solutions to the most serious environmental problems. EDF links science, economics, law and innovative private-sector partnerships. See;;

Woods Hole Research Center (, addresses the great issues for a healthy planet through science, education, and policy. Center staff combine remote sensing with field research to study, model, map and monitor Earth’s land surface, and advance the knowledge gained to define solutions for sustainable well being.