Not a Fishing Net: Indigenous Influence on REDD+ in Peru

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Carol Carpenter
Essay Abstract: 
Though Peru is actively designing a national version of forest conservation program Reducing Emissions From Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+), indigenous people, the stakeholders most directly affected, have little direct say in the process. As a result, indigenous people at different levels of power attempt to indirectly influence national and international plans for national REDD+ implementation. In analyzing a case study in the Peruvian Amazonian region of Madre de Dios, I found that the two main regional indigenous organizations collaborate with more powerful non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in different ways to attain crucial rights for the communities they seek to represent. The communities, with fewer tools for major influence, instead seek short-term benefits from REDD+, the latest in a string of community forest management programs in the region. I conclude that although these methods of indigenous collaboration are important in shaping REDD+, national and international legislative bodies must open spaces for more direct indigenous participation not only to implement effective policy but also to ensure indigenous rights are protected in practice.