Today, on Earth Day I want to celebrate the efforts made by Indigenous peoples around the world to continue protecting our planet. Of the many significant experiences at the local level, I want to highlight an initiative developed in the Peruvian Amazon with the MDE Saweto Peru project.
Reene Pujupat Taan is an Awajún Indigenous woman from the Peruvian Amazon. She is part of 120 Awajún women who decided to undertake a fish farming initiative to address the effects of pollution of the Chiriyacu River from oil spills and waste coming from nearby cities. With this undertaking supported by MDE Saweto, this group of women were already prepared to face the pollution of the river and later the impact of COVID-19 in the area. This support resulted in economic income to buy medicines, food for the Awajún families of the Nazareth native community and the creation of the Awajún Nazareth Women's Aquaculture Association.
To obtain timely results like the Awajún women, Indigenous leaders from various regions of the world have repeatedly raised the need for direct access to climate funds. In Peru, once again during the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) 20th Conference of the Parties (2014), Indigenous peoples demanded that the parties of the convention "ensure direct access to finance and capacity building for Indigenous peoples".
A recent study by the Rainforest Foundation Norway points out that Indigenous peoples and local communities in tropical countries have received an average of USD 270 million annually over the last 10 years. This "represents less than 1% of ODA (Official Development Assistance) for climate change and adaptation."
With less than 10% of resources from the Forest Investment Fund (FIP), Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities (IPLCs) in 12 tropical countries are leading the implementation of the Dedicated Grant Mechanism for Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities (DGM). They formed their own global and national steering committees to make key decisions, achieving to date 574 sub-projects in 8 countries with a total value of more than $17 million (USD), approximately 219 women's projects, and 28 lands titled and registered in Peru (more information in the 2020 annual report).
Strengthening the capacity of Indigenous peoples and local communities has been a priority in the Democratic Republic of Congo - DRC. The leaders of the MDE felt that it was important to lobby for greater recognition and promotion of Indigenous peoples' rights. They were not wrong, as this effort combined with the efforts of other institutions led to the passing of the first comprehensive national law on the rights of Indigenous peoples in DRC.
At this moment of celebration, we want to recognize the contributions of Indigenous peoples and local communities and we also call on donor countries to increase direct resources to Indigenous peoples and local communities. In this way, many local initiatives such as those of Reene Pujupat Taan and other successful initiatives can be multiplied to achieve local, national, and global goals more efficiently.