We support efforts to mitigate climate change, reduce deforestation and maintain the biodiversity of natural ecosystems by strengthening Indigenous and Afro-descendant communities’ rights to forests, territories, and resources; and by mitigating the negative effects of infrastructure and extractive industries.
Why Colombia and Peru?
The Amazon rainforest extends through nine South American countries, and is the largest river basin in the world. Globally, the Amazon plays a critical role maintaining the Earth’s climate by removing carbon from the atmosphere and regulating rainfall patterns. Peru and Colombia contain 23% of the Amazon basin, and are home to a wealth of biodiversity and thousands of Indigenous and Afro-descendant communities who have lived in the forests for centuries.
Both countries have acknowledged the direct, positive relationship between community land rights and low deforestation rates. The process for Indigenous and Afro-descendant communities to secure and effectively exercise rights to their lands, however, remains inaccessible for many due to barriers in implementation. As a result, progress on these fundamental policy initiatives, and the associated improvements to forest and community health, has been slow.
But while community land rights expand within the Peruvian and Colombian Amazon, so too do unsustainable infrastructure projects and harmful extractive activities such as infrastructure projects and mining. In fact, South America is considered a hotspot for increased infrastructure and extractive projects. And although Peru and Colombia often encourage the launch of such projects, existing policies and resources for oversight are often inadequate once they break ground. Left poorly regulated, these projects can become primary drivers of deforestation, biodiversity loss, and increased mining activities. In Peru, small-scale gold mining caused the loss of more than 100,000 hectares of forest over the last five years. That’s double the levels reported in 2013. And as new projects increase and the frontier for extractive activities expands into biodiverse-rich regions like Peru’s Madre de Dios and Colombia’s Chocó, the situation is likely to intensify.
Despite the threats, Peru and Colombia have laid the foundation for climate change mitigation and social and economic progress in the region. By expanding the implementation of community land rights and establishing stronger standards for infrastructure and mining projects, both countries have the opportunity to set the standard for progressive climate change policy alongside sustainable economic development and community rights.
The Colombia and Peru Initiative supports efforts in the following areas:
Community Rights and Management
Strengthening the land tenure and social rights of Indigenous Peoples, Afro-descendant, and other communities, and supporting their capacity for effective land governance as part of Peru and Colombia delivering on national policy priorities on rights and community management.
Where we Focus
- Expanded Community Land Rights
- Increased Community Land Management
Strong Standards for Infrastructure and Extractive Industries
Increasing the capacity of civil society, government, and local communities to prevent the negative impacts of unsustainable infrastructure and extractive projects, and establishing stronger public and private sector commitments to high standards of transparency, anti-corruption, and community involvement.
Where we Focus
- Civil Society Oversight
- Increased Public and Private Sector Accountability
- Participation and Advocacy