Thirteen countries in Asia are preparing to get ready for REDD+. While these countries are moving ahead with REDD+ preparation, the awareness raising and capacity building of rights holders and their organizations for policy advocacy is very important. In this context, the Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP), with the support of the UN-REDD Programme, joined hands with its local organizations to promote closer collaboration and cooperation amongst indigenous peoples, and with the UN-REDD Programme and government agencies implementing REDD+ in Bangladesh, Myanmar and Vietnam.
Through partnerships with the Promotion of Indigenous and Nature Together (POINT) in Myanmar, the Center for Sustainable Development in the Mountainous Areas (CSDM) in Viet Nam and the National Coordination Committee (NCC) of Indigenous Peoples in Bangladesh, national dialogues were held between ethnic minorities and the Forest Department in Yangon, Myanmar on 2 May; with the UN-REDD Programme Viet Nam Phase II Programme in Hanoi, Viet Nam on 9 May; and with the Forest Department in Dhaka, Bangladesh on 19 June 2014. Prior to the dialogues, POINT, CSDM and NCC organized a three-day preparatory meeting in Yangon from 29 April-2 May; a two-day preparatory meeting in Hanoi from 7-8 May; and a three-day preparatory meeting in Bangladesh from 16-19 June 2014, respectively. There were 33 indigenous participants in Myanmar, 32 ethnic minority participants in Viet Nam and 50 indigenous participants in Bangladesh.
The national preparatory meetings were vital and very useful in developing a common understanding for indigenous peoples’ representatives on REDD+ and related issues, including their rights and entitlement to benefit sharing in REDD+. In Myanmar, the participants agreed to strengthen the existing Indigenous Peoples Forum of Myanmar to monitor the REDD+ process and to form the indigenous peoples working group on REDD+ within the forum, ensuring the participation of representatives from the REDD+ pilot areas. In Viet Nam, indigenous representatives (ethnic minorities) agreed to select two to three focal points from each REDD+ pilot area to provide support and feedback to Ms. Luong Thi Truong, the indigenous representative to the Programme Executive Board (PEB) of the UN-REDD Programme in Viet Nam. The participants also agreed to expand the existing Vietnamese Indigenous Knowledge Network (VTIK) in order to reach out to more ethnic minorities in the Phase II pilot areas of REDD+. The network now consists of 750 members from 13 provinces. A number of ethnic groups are part of the VTIK, namely: Thai, Tay, Nung, Dao, H’mong and Muong. The CSDM is currently coordinating the VTIK. This network will help maintain regular communication and information sharing on REDD+ issues among indigenous peoples in Viet Nam. Further ethnic minorities’ representatives will develop concrete action plans for follow up actions to be supported by the UN-REDD Programme Viet Nam in Phase II of REDD+ implementation. In Bangladesh, the participants agreed that the NCC of indigenous peoples would facilitate the self-selection process of indigenous peoples for the National REDD+ Steering Committee and technical working groups to be formed by the government of Bangladesh. The indigenous representatives also nominated Raja Devasish Roy as REDD+ contact point on behalf of indigenous peoples.
Prior to the meetings, key documents such as the REDD+ Cancun agreement, Joint Stakeholder Engagement Guidelines of the UN-REDD Programme and the FCPF, and the-UN-REDD Programme Guidelines on FPIC were translated into Burmese and Vietnamese languages and distributed to the participants prior to the events. It was the first time in Bangladesh that key REDD+ documents were translated into their national languages.
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