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Justice Prevails: Peru Court Sentences Murderers of Indigenous Land Defenders to 28 Years

Justice Prevails: Peru Court Sentences Murderers of Indigenous Land Defenders to 28 Years

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 11, 2024

MEDIA CONTACT
Camila Rossi: gro.s1713392880utser1713392880ofnia1713392880r@iss1713392880orc1713392880

“Our leaders will finally rest in peace. Justice has been served. Long live Saweto!”

After ten long years, justice was served on Thursday, April 11, for the victims of the emblematic Saweto case in the Ucayali region of Peru. The Court sentenced the four accused to 28 years and three months of imprisonment for the crimes against Ashéninka community leaders from Alto Tamaya – Saweto: Edwin Chota Valera, Jorge Ríos Pérez, Francisco Pinedo Ramírez, and Leoncio Quintisima Meléndez, who were brutally murdered on September 1, 2014. The fifth culprit is on the run and will only be tried once captured.

The four men accused of the murders were already found guilty of the crime last February and each was sentenced to 28 years in prison at that time. However, an appeals court overturned that ruling and ordered a new trial due to “irregularities” in the testimony of a witness.

Three widows of the murdered Indigenous leaders—Julia Pérez González, Hergilia Rengifo López, and Lita Rojas Pinedo—attended the hearing, as did Lina Ruiz Santillán, daughter of slain leader Francisco Pinedo. “I feel somewhat happy, but we must fight and move forward so that my father’s death does not go unpunished. I will not rest easy,” expressed Lina.

After 53 consecutive hearings since November 2, 2023, this verdict marks a significant step in pursuing justice for environmental defenders who fought against illegal logging in their communities.

Meanwhile, representatives and hundreds of members of Indigenous communities followed the hearing on a screen placed in front of the Superior Court headquarters. “Our leaders will finally rest in peace. Justice has been served. Long live Saweto!” they exclaimed.

It should be noted that the Saweto case sentence must be ratified on appeal. The full reading of the verdict is scheduled for April 23, after which there will be a five-day period for the corresponding appeal.

Rainforest Foundation US (RFUS) played an important supporting role in the case, assisting the families and widows, providing legal representation with dedicated lawyers who were key in this verdict, and also assisting with advocacy and communications.

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News Releases

Justice Prevails: Peru Court Sentences Murderers of Indigenous Land Defenders to 28 Years

After ten long years, justice was served on Thursday, April 11, for the victims of the emblematic Saweto case in the Ucayali region of Peru. The Court sentenced the five accused to 28 years and three months of imprisonment for the crimes against Ashéninka community leaders from Alto Tamaya – Saweto: Edwin Chota Valera, Jorge Ríos Pérez, Francisco Pinedo Ramírez, and Leoncio Quintisima Meléndez, who were brutally murdered on September 1, 2014.

Multimedia

Carbon Markets and Our Rights: A Guide for Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities

The voluntary carbon market is quickly evolving and being introduced in new territories, making it challenging to sort out who’s who and what the implications are for impacted communities. To support Indigenous communities and local communities to better understand carbon markets, Rainforest Foundation US has launched the first three videos of a six-part animated series to demystify the market and provide communities with the essential information to protect their rights.

A flock of vibrant scarlet macaws flying amidst the green foliage of the rainforest.
Newsletters

April 2024 Newsletter

As Earth Day draws near, we’re excited to share with you our ambitious plans for the future. This year began with a breakthrough: the Peruvian government’s commitment to grant permanent land titles to 19 Ticuna and Yagua communities. With official rights to their ancestral lands, these communities can better. Additionally, our territorial monitoring program now safeguards over 17 million acres of vital rainforest. Dive into our April newsletter to explore these milestones and join us in making a difference.

Support Our Work

Rainforest Foundation US is tackling the major challenges of our day: deforestation, the climate crisis, and human rights violations. Your donation moves us one step closer to creating a more sustainable and just future.

Resources for Rights-holders on Carbon Markets

Resources for Rights-holders on Carbon Markets

Technical analyses to support indigenous peoples’ and local communities’ engagement in voluntary carbon market standards

The voluntary carbon market is quickly evolving in tropical forests around the world. It is creating a complex landscape of new actors, standards, and requirements for Indigenous peoples and local communities to navigate in order to protect their rights. To support communities, their organizations, and their leaders, Rainforest Foundation US commissioned Climate Law and Policy to develop a set of analyses that break down the safeguard-related requirements.

The standards covered in these materials include: Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF)’s Methodological FrameworkREDD.Plusthe Verified Carbon Standard Jurisdictional and Nested Framework (VCS JNR), and ART’s The REDD+ Environmental Excellency Standard (TREES). The TREES booklet also contains seven sub-booklets relating to its specific requirements and approach to each of the Cancun Safeguards.

Click on the thumbnails to access the complete analyses:

Understanding the safeguard requirements of The Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF)
Understanding the safeguard requirements of REDD.Plus
Understanding the safeguard requirements of The Verified Carbon Standard-Jurisdictional and Nested REDD+ Framework (VCS JNR)
Understanding the safeguard requirements of The REDD+ Environmental Excellence Standard (TREES)
TREES Safeguard A: Relating to national forest programs and relevant international conventions and agreements
TREES Safeguard B: Relating to transparent and effective governance structures
TREES Safeguard C: Relating to respect for the knowledge and rights of Indigenous peoples and local communities
TREES Safeguard D: Relating to the full and effective participation of stakeholders
TREES Safeguard E: Relating to the conservation of natural forests and biological diversity
TREES Safeguard F: Relating to action to address the risk of reversals of emissions reductions
TREES Safeguard G: Relating to actions to reduce displacement of emissions

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News Releases

Justice Prevails: Peru Court Sentences Murderers of Indigenous Land Defenders to 28 Years

After ten long years, justice was served on Thursday, April 11, for the victims of the emblematic Saweto case in the Ucayali region of Peru. The Court sentenced the five accused to 28 years and three months of imprisonment for the crimes against Ashéninka community leaders from Alto Tamaya – Saweto: Edwin Chota Valera, Jorge Ríos Pérez, Francisco Pinedo Ramírez, and Leoncio Quintisima Meléndez, who were brutally murdered on September 1, 2014.

Multimedia

Carbon Markets and Our Rights: A Guide for Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities

The voluntary carbon market is quickly evolving and being introduced in new territories, making it challenging to sort out who’s who and what the implications are for impacted communities. To support Indigenous communities and local communities to better understand carbon markets, Rainforest Foundation US has launched the first three videos of a six-part animated series to demystify the market and provide communities with the essential information to protect their rights.

A flock of vibrant scarlet macaws flying amidst the green foliage of the rainforest.
Newsletters

April 2024 Newsletter

As Earth Day draws near, we’re excited to share with you our ambitious plans for the future. This year began with a breakthrough: the Peruvian government’s commitment to grant permanent land titles to 19 Ticuna and Yagua communities. With official rights to their ancestral lands, these communities can better. Additionally, our territorial monitoring program now safeguards over 17 million acres of vital rainforest. Dive into our April newsletter to explore these milestones and join us in making a difference.

Support Our Work

Rainforest Foundation US is tackling the major challenges of our day: deforestation, the climate crisis, and human rights violations. Your donation moves us one step closer to creating a more sustainable and just future.

Guardians of the Rainforest: Meet the Mighty Protectors!

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Guardians of the Rainforest: Meet the Mighty Protectors!

There are more types of plants and animals living in the Amazon rainforest than anywhere else on the planet! Do you know who else lives there too? And why it’s important to all of us to keep the rainforests healthy? Learn all this and how Rainforest Foundation US is supporting the people that live in the rainforest to protect it.

Mira la versión en español de este video en Youtube

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Start A Fundraiser

Take a stand for rainforests by creating your own fundraiser. When you show your friends that you care about issues like rainforest protection or the rights of Indigenous peoples, they’re much more likely to pay attention and want to help. Find detailed instructions for setting up a fundraiser and ideas for sharing it on social media. Getting started is easy!

Five indigenous men wearing matching black shirts stand in front of a wood hut, looking at their phones.
Stories

Supplied with Tech, Indigenous Forest Monitors Curb Deforestation

A recent study, co-authored by Global Forest Watch and Rainforest Foundation US, demonstrates that providing technology to Indigenous communities can effectively reduce deforestation. Dive into the findings that could reshape our approach to rainforest protection.

A flock of vibrant scarlet macaws flying amidst the green foliage of the rainforest.

10 Things You Can Do To Protect The Rainforest

What can you do to protect the rainforest? It turns out quite a bit, even if you don’t live near one! What we consume, support with time and money, and lend our voices to have far-reaching impacts.

Take Action Against Climate Change

Rainforests absorb and store more carbon dioxide than all other types of forests, making rainforest protection one of the most effective solutions to climate change. Support indigenous peoples on the frontlines of rainforest protection.

Hover over the amounts to see what your donation can achieve:

Earth Day – thank you

Our Earth.

Our Future.

And Our Responsibility.

Thank you for standing with Indigenous peoples to protect their forests and our planet!

Want to do more? One way to honor the Earth on Earth Day (or any day!) is by asking friends and family to donate to RFUS on your behalf. We have tools and templates for emails and text messages. You can send a quick request by reposting one of our social media posts and adding a donation link, or you could create your own fundraising page. All the support you need is here.

Indigenous Leaders in Ucayali, Peru Launch New Satellite Information Center “Imenko Tsiroti” to Address Deforestation and Threats to their People

Indigenous Leaders in Ucayali, Peru Launch New Satellite Information Center “Imenko Tsiroti” to Address Deforestation and Threats to their People

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

MEDIA CONTACTS

Maryka Paquette: gro.y1713392880nffr@1713392880etteu1713392880qapm1713392880
Beth Duncan: gro.y1713392880nffr@1713392880nacnu1713392880db1713392880

THE INAUGURATION OF THE HUB HOLDS PROMISE FOR INDIGENOUS COMMUNITIES TO STRENGTHEN LAND SECURITY AMIDST RISING RISKS AND INVASIONS

Pucallpa, PeruIn recent years, the dangers faced by indigenous communities of the Ucayali region of Peru have worsened, putting the lives of leaders and community members at risk. 

Activities such as logging, illegal mining, territorial invasion, and deforestation have generated great concern among the region’s communities. Peru’s Ministry of Environment reported that Ucayali saw the highest percentage increase in deforestation of all Amazonian regions at 32% between 2019-2020 and, worse, 81% over the period 2018-2020. 

As communities seek to protect their lands from illegal invasions, threats to environmental defenders are on the rise. One report noted that although the National Registry of Human Rights Defenders of Ucayali’s Ministry of Justice has 21 defenders registered, the count should be at 113 defenders.  

Until recently, options for how communities can detect the location of territorial threats and report them to state authorities have been limited. 

For this reason, the Regional Organization of AIDESEP in Ucayali (ORAU), the region’s indigenous peoples’ representative organization, established its first indigenous-led satellite information center and data hub “Imenko Tsiroti” with the support of Rainforest Foundation US (RFUS). 

Led and managed by indigenous leaders and trainers from ORAU, the center will process territorial data collected by indigenous communities, which will be used to substantiate thematic reports enabling the early response of authorities to threats and opportunities in indigenous peoples’ territories. In this way, Ucayali’s indigenous peoples will become the managers of their own territorial information.

“The name ‘Tsiroti’ is an Asháninka word referring to a forest bird that sings so loudly, the entire community knows where it is. It is our messenger bird that protects us, just like our satellite information center will. Thanks to this center, we will have maps and data that can alert the entire community of the threats they face so that they can protect themselves,” said Berlin Diques, president of ORAU. In English, Imenko Tsiroti means ‘the nest of the paucar,’ or yellow-rumped cacique.

The center was inaugurated by ORAU’s board of directors with much fanfare at ORAU headquarters in Pucallpa on Saturday, March 12th, 2022. The ceremony was attended by Jorge Perez Rubio, president of the Interethnic Association for the Development of the Peruvian Rainforest (AIDESEP); Suzanne Pelletier, executive director of RFUS; and various indigenous community leaders from across the region, including leaders of the Federation of Native Communities of Iparia District (known by their acronym FECONADIP) and the Indigenous Development Organization of the Masisea District (ORDIM)—two among many federations represented by ORAU.

“For us, having this indigenous-led satellite information center in ORAU will be a great help. We will no longer have to wait a long time or pay large sums of money to obtain location maps of our own communal territory,” commented Judith Nuntha, an indigenous Shipibo member of ORAU’s Board of Directors who will serve as the indigenous coordinator of the Rainforest Alert network in Ucayali.

“We’re encouraged because we know that Tsiroti is going to equip the communities of Ucayali with the tools and knowledge needed to keep their families safe and their forests secure. We hope your success helps expand this work to all communities across the Peruvian Amazon,” offered Jorge Perez Rubio, president of AIDESEP, a national indigenous peoples’ organization representing indigenous peoples across all regions of the Peruvian Amazon. 

“We’re honored to join ORAU in launching this new center. We’ve seen from our experience with ORPIO in Loreto that when communities have access to the right tools and support from partners and law enforcement authorities, they defend their rights and effectively reduce deforestation—sometimes halting it altogether,” commented Suzanne Pelletier.

During the inauguration, ORAU representatives unveiled maps indicating threats experienced by ORAU’s federation members and the violence against indigenous defenders of their territories. They also showed maps tracking roads that are illegally encroaching on and allowing greater access for deforestation of their communities’ territories in the Amazon. The mapping tools and high-tech equipment will also allow for the registration of ORAU’s federation members’ territories currently awaiting recognition and titling.  

The center will meet the demand for satellite-derived data and other territorial data from the indigenous peoples of Ucayali, including communities that have adopted the Rainforest Alert system of community-led territorial monitoring. Co-developed by the Organization of the Indigenous People of the Eastern Amazon (ORPIO)—ORAU’s counterpart in Peru’s Loreto region—and Rainforest Foundation US, that system was examined in a peer-reviewed study in a 2021 special edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Results from that study showed that, in the first year alone, the Rainforest Alert system allowed communities to successfully reduce forest loss on their lands by 52 percent.

The inauguration of the indigenous-led satellite information center “Imenko Tsiroti” in Ucayali marks the first major expansion of the program beyond Loreto. Miriam Sanchez, an indigenous Shipibo from the region, who serves as the hub’s trainer bringing the technology and capacity to the region’s communities, will be responsible for analyzing the deforestation of indigenous peoples’ territories with tools such as Global Forest Watch.

Rainforest Foundation US was founded 30 years ago to promote the rights of indigenous peoples living in the rainforest and to support them and other forest communities in their effort to protect and defend their territories.

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Members of the Regional Organization of AIDESEP in Ucayali (ORAU) at the Imenko Tsiroti launch. IMAGE CREDIT: Katya Zevallos

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Five indigenous men wearing matching black shirts stand in front of a wood hut, looking at their phones.
Stories

Supplied with Tech, Indigenous Forest Monitors Curb Deforestation

A recent study, co-authored by Global Forest Watch and Rainforest Foundation US, demonstrates that providing technology to Indigenous communities can effectively reduce deforestation. Dive into the findings that could reshape our approach to rainforest protection.

Take Action Against Climate Change

Rainforests absorb and store more carbon dioxide than all other types of forests, making rainforest protection one of the most effective solutions to climate change. Support indigenous peoples on the frontlines of rainforest protection.

Hover over the amounts to see what your donation can achieve:

Política de Denuncia de Irregularidades

POLÍTICA DE DENUNCIA DE IRREGULARIDADES

Whistleblower Policy (Español)

Si RFUS recibe informes de sospechas bien fundadas de corrupción y otras faltas de conducta, ya sea dentro de la organización o fuera de ella, el personal del programa correspondiente se encargará de investigar la denuncia. Si el caso lo requiere, se llevará a cabo una investigación en profundidad, y, si fuese necesario, con apoyo externo (por ejemplo, un auditor local).  Si un denunciante no está en condiciones de informar al Coordinador del Programa, o decide permanecer en el anonimato, por motivos explícitos y razonables, él/ ella puede dirigir su/ su informe al buzón de correo: gro.y1713392880nffr@1713392880stnia1713392880lpmoc1713392880 y su mensaje será dirigido directamente al Director Ejecutivo de la organización.

La denuncia debería incluir:

  • El nombre completo y la posición del denunciante (a menos que él/ ella quiera permanecer en el anonimato – si es así, se deben dar motivos razonables);
  • La organización en que ocurrieron las circunstancias;
  • El lugar, fecha y hora de las circunstancias del caso;
  • La descripción precisa de las circunstancias (Ej., lo que se ha presenciado y dónde);
  • La identidad y los datos de contacto de otros testigos, si el caso fuera a proceder;
  • Cualquier circunstancia previa conocida que involucre a la misma persona(s).
  • El personal de una organización asociada tiene la obligación de reportar la sospecha de corrupción, y tiene la opción de eludir a los superiores inmediatos, incluso ir fuera de su unidad local, directamente al alto mando de RFUS.

El personal de RFUS tiene la obligación de informar la sospecha de corrupción a sus superiores inmediatos. El sistema de notificación de incidentes tiene como objetivo rastrear una gama más amplia de incidentes que un funcionario puede experimentar, como agresión, robo o que se le pida que pague un soborno, que no necesariamente requieren la protección o confidencialidad de los empleados. El registro de todos los incidentes es importante, ya que sirve no solo para dar cuenta de las posibles pérdidas financieras, sino también para aprender y mejorar las medidas de prevención y mitigación de riesgos existentes – y no sólo en relación con la corrupción.

La identidad del denunciante no será revelada, si así lo solicita explícitamente o en el caso de denuncias anónimas. Los informes se tratarán de forma confidencial. En caso de que se descubra la identidad de un denunciante, y si esa revelación conllevara graves riesgos de represalias, RFUS se compromete a adoptar las medidas apropiadas y, en la medida de lo posible, a garantizar la seguridad del denunciante.

Si el personal de RFUS enfrenta amenazas como resultado de un caso de corrupción, RFUS asegurará su protección y seguridad, incluyendo haciendo los ajustes necesarios a sus responsabilidades y tareas.

Todos las denuncias de sospechas (fundadas) de corrupción serán tratadas de inmediato. El denunciante recibirá la confirmación de la recepción de su informe en un plazo razonable. La dirección de RFUS decidirá quién debe participar en la tramitación del caso y qué medidas deberán adoptarse, según el tipo de caso y sus impactos. Todos los documentos relacionados con el caso serán registrados y archivados en los archivos electrónicos de RFUS, con acceso restringido a los miembros del personal involucrados en el caso.

La Política Anticorrupción de la RFUS será traducida al portugués y al español, y se adjuntará a los contratos con las organizaciones asociadas, se distribuirá dentro de las organizaciones asociadas y será explicada directamente por el personal de la RFUS a los miembros de las organizaciones técnicas y a los mandos del organismo para así garantizar que estos últimos estén informados sobre el mecanismo de denuncia de RFUS.

Significance of Community-Held Territories in 24 Countries to Global Climate

Map of Mexico, Central and South America

Significance of Community-Held Territories in 24 Countries to Global Climate

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 6, 2021

MEDIA CONTACTS
Coimbra Sirica: moc.s1713392880senru1713392880b@aci1713392880risc1713392880
Wanda Bautista: moc.s1713392880senru1713392880b@ats1713392880ituab1713392880w1713392880

At UNFCCC COP 26, New Research Shows Indigenous Peoples and local Communities hold at least 958 million hectares of land spanning most of the world’s endangered tropical forests – yet have legal rights to less than half of their lands. Community-held lands sequester over 250 billion metric tonnes of carbon, and lack of secure rights threatens release of much of this carbon into the atmosphere through deforestation.

Click on the thumbnail to view the policy brief

Glasgow, UK – In new research released at the UNFCC COP, scientists mapped out 3.75 million square miles (958 million hectares) of indigenous and community territories as containing over 250 billion metric tonnes of carbon. However, these communities only have legally recognized rights to less than half of this area—1.7 million square miles (447 million hectares)—jeopardizing the landscapes they protect as well as the 130 billion metric tonnes of carbon contained therein.

These landscapes are held and managed by indigenous peoples (IPs), Afro-descendant peoples (ADPs), and local communities (LCs) in 24 of the world’s most forested countries and 60% of the planet’s tropical forest area. Failure to recognize their rights exposes them, their territories, and the carbon and biodiversity they hold to increasing threats of deforestation and degradation, potentially accelerating emissions from a carbon pool equivalent 15 times the world’s 2020 energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

Beyond direct implications for global climate goals, inaction on this agenda will further accelerate the compounding effects of global social and environmental crises tied to biodiversity loss, increasing poverty, inequality and food insecurity, and rapidly diminishing social-ecological resilience.

The research, produced by the Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI), Woodwell Climate Research Center (Woodwell) and Rainforest Foundation US (RFUS), focused on the Global Alliance of Territorial Communities (GATC)–an alliance of traditional communities in the 24 countries* which by their common interests and sheer terrestrial footprint, embody the importance of IPs, LCs, and ADPs across the world.

“This data shows what scientists have been saying for years: Indigenous peoples and local communities must be co-authors, not just participants, in climate and biodiversity solutions,” said Tuntiak Katan, indigenous Shuar of Ecuador and General Coordinator of the GATC. “We offer the most effective, sustainable and equitable solution to halting deforestation and preserving and restoring the functions served by our ecosystems. Unless you recognize our role in keeping rainforests intact and our rights to self-determination, you can’t count on those trees staying upright.”

Research shows that less than 1 percent of official development assistance for climate change mitigation and adaptation has gone toward recognition of community forest tenure rights and management projects. Of that, just 17 percent went to indigenous or community organizations for implementation—with the rest channeled to large intermediary organizations. GATC leaders and their allies assert that business as usual can no longer go on—on November 1, they announced the “Shandia Vision”, a re-imagining of the financial architecture of global climate finance to create new mechanisms to channel scaled, direct funding to IPs and LCs to secure their rights and effectively govern their territories.

“The Shandia Vision represents the rights holders’ vision for the future and is rooted in the common goals of GATC members to secure their territories for cultural survival, defend collective rights and defend the rights of nature,” said GATC member Joseph Itongwa Mukumo, an indigenous leader from the Walikale Forest Area in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and coordinator of REPALEAC, a network of indigenous and local communities for the sustainable management of forest ecosystems in Central Africa. “Shandia Vision is envisioned as a system built by local peoples for the people–and to guide financial mechanisms that fund community efforts to mitigate the climate crisis, conserve biodiversity, restore degraded landscapes, and advance local economies,” he said.

Gustavo Sánchez Valle, President of the Mexican Network of Forest Peasant Organizations (Mocaf) and Executive Commission Member of the Mesoamerican Alliance of Peoples and Forests said, “Such financing mechanisms must support and complement an emerging set of regional and national funds led by indigenous and local community rights holders across the world.” Sanchez, who serves on the RRI Board, leads one such effort–the Mesoamerican Territorial Fund, which is dedicated to fostering investment in community-led structures for governance of indigenous and local territories in Meso America.

Solange Bandiaky-Badji, Coordinator of RRI, said the current ecosystem of rights holders’ organizations and their allies has already demonstrated the immense possibilities of securing land rights for achieving global climate and conservation goals. “But the present scale of funding is just inadequate to capitalize on this ecosystem. RRI is working with GATC leadership to remedy this by funneling resources to implementers on the ground; strengthening indigenous and community rights as well as their capacity to govern, protect, and restore their lands.”

Sara Omi, GATC member, an Embera leader from Panama’s General Embera Congress of Alto Bayano and President of the Coordinator of Territorial Women Leaders of Mesoamerica said, “Indigenous women hold most of the traditional knowledge that has helped past generations to coexist with their environment. However, we are also suffering the consequences of climate change, which affects our right to survive and protect our ancestral lands. If you do not invest in our economies and our conservation methods, this crisis will continue to escalate and disproportionately affect the most vulnerable.”

As powerful actors jump into the global carbon market to compensate for emissions made elsewhere, doing so without first securing communities’ territorial rights and investing in their traditional conservation approaches brings even further risks to their ability to protect endangered landscapes. Research from RRI shows that a vast majority of tropical forested countries seeking to benefit from international carbon markets have yet to define in law and in practice the rights of local peoples over the carbon in their customary territories. This lack of clear rights poses substantive risks to both communities and investors, creating uncertainty on who will benefit from land-based emission reductions.

“You can talk about nature-based solutions, but you can’t implement them without recognizing the rights of the peoples that have been protecting and managing forests successfully on their own for generations,” said Suzanne Pelletier, executive director of RFUS. “Indigenous peoples and local communities have proven experience at maintaining—and even improving—the carbon density of forest landscapes and doing so under dire and often violent pressures. If the international community wants to dedicate more funding to climate solutions, they need to work with them directly.”

In a policy brief accompanying the map, researchers advocated for five interdependent principles to guide all future climate actions and investments to empower communities to protect their lands and forests, and pursue their self-determined priorities:

  1. Accelerate the recognition and enforcement of the land, forest, and resource rights of indigenous peoples, Afro-descendant peoples, local communities, and the women within those communities;
  2. Ensure the free, prior, and informed consent (FPIC) of communities in all projects that may impact human, land and resource rights;
  3. Increase dedicated climate, conservation, and development financing and direct funding access  for communities and their priorities, and ensure their full and effective participation in all nature-based climate and conservation actions and decisions, from design through implementation;
  4. Bring an end to the criminalization, intimidation, and killing of land and environment defenders;
  5. Effectively incorporate traditional knowledge into all climate change policies and practices.

“Like doctors and nurses, police and firefighters, indigenous peoples and local communities are first responders on the front lines of the fight to protect the planet’s remaining tropical forests,” concluded Wayne Walker, Carbon Program Director at Woodwell and one of the lead researchers. “Their lands deserve to be recognized and their efforts deserve to be rewarded.”

*NOTE: The 24 jurisdictions of GATC: Bolivia, Brazil, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Colombia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Costa Rica, Ecuador, French Guiana (France), Gabon, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Indonesia, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Suriname, and Venezuela.

Rainforest Foundation US was founded 30 years ago to promote the rights of indigenous peoples living in the rainforest and to support them and other forest communities in their effort to protect and defend their territories.

The Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI) is a global Coalition of 21 Partners and over 150 rightsholders organizations and their allies dedicated to advancing the forestland and resource rights of indigenous peoples, Afro-descendant peoples, local communities, and the women within these communities. RRI leverages the power of its coalition to amplify the voices of local peoples and proactively engage governments, multilateral institutions, and private sector actors to adopt institutional and market reforms that support the realization of their rights and self-determined development. By advancing a strategic understanding of the global threats and opportunities resulting from insecure land and resource rights, it develops and promotes rights-based approaches to business and development and catalyzes effective solutions to scale rural tenure reform and sustainable resource governance. RRI is coordinated by the Rights and Resources Group, a non-profit organization based in Washington, DC. 

The Global Alliance of Territorial Communities (GATC) is a coalition of indigenous and local communities from the Amazon Basin, Brazil, Indonesia, Mesoamerica and Central Africa. It represents 35 million forest dwellers in 24 countries and 840 million hectares of forests, and five territorial organizations: the Coordinator of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon Basin (COICA), the Articulation of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil (APIB), the Mesoamerican Alliance of Peoples and Forests (AMPB), the Alliance of Indigenous Peoples of the Archipelago (AMAN), and the Network of Indigenous and Local Communities for the Sustainable Management of Forest Ecosystems in Central Africa (REPALEAC).

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Take Action Against Climate Change

Rainforests absorb and store more carbon dioxide than all other types of forests, making rainforest protection one of the most effective solutions to climate change. Support indigenous peoples on the frontlines of rainforest protection.

Hover over the amounts to see what your donation can achieve:

Rainforest Foundation US Wins $2 Million US Government Grant

Rainforest Foundation US Wins $2 Million US Government Grant

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 27, 2021

MEDIA CONTACTS
Josh Lichtenstein: gro.y1713392880nffr@1713392880niets1713392880nethc1713392880ilj1713392880
Maryka Paquette: gro.y1713392880nffr@1713392880etteu1713392880qapm1713392880

New York, USA  Rainforest Foundation US (RFUS) and the Mesoamerican Alliance of Peoples and Forests (AMPB or simply ‘Alliance’) were awarded a $2 million grant by the United States federal government on September 28, 2021. The project funded under the grant, called the B’atz Regional Institutional Strengthening Project, or just “B’atz”, will go towards bolstering critical indigenous peoples’ and local community organizations throughout Mexico and Central America.

The award, which is managed by the United States Agency for International Development’s Mission in Guatemala, will amongst other things:

  • support the establishment of AMPB as a legal entity, ensuring it has standing in the courts;
  • set the Mesoamerican Territorial Fund (FTM) in motion, creating a centralized system to channel finance to indigenous communities region-wide;
  • bolster the Women’s Coordination mechanism, which focuses on the rights of indigenous women;
  • and strengthen the Mesoamerican Leadership School, which trains indigenous leaders to be better equipped to negotiate with public and private entities who wish to access their lands and natural resources.

“Direct financing to indigenous peoples is a historical demand of ours,” relates Sara Omi Casama, an indigenous Emberá from Panamá and President of the Women’s Coordination of AMPB. “One of the main conditions of different financing mechanisms is having established capacity to handle funds at the territorial level—this requirement does not favor communities. The AMPB approach to this project, generated through a co-creation process with RFUS, is an opportunity to strengthen capacities and learning so that indigenous peoples’ organizations can, in the medium term, be direct partners of USAID and other financial mechanisms. We appreciate the respectful technical accompaniment of our ally, Rainforest Foundation US, through the whole process of co-creating this project together.”

AMPB is an alliance made up of indigenous peoples’ organizations that manage their territories in the major forested areas throughout Central America, including in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama. There are approximately 24 million indigenous people living in Central America, or a little less than the total population of Australia. Protecting rainforests is integral in the fight against climate change, and indigenous peoples have consistently shown themselves to be amongst the most effective defenders of these forests. More than 60% of the forests of Central America are located on formally recognized indigenous peoples’ or community lands—far higher than any other region in the world. But the region’s indigenous people continue to suffer disproportionate levels of hardship, hampering their ability to stand up against the drivers of deforestation. Strengthening indigenous peoples’ organizations and networks are crucial to changing that equation.

By strengthening AMPB’s Technical Secretariat, this grant will help the Alliance register as a legal entity, allowing it to better provide support to national-level indigenous leaders under threat—a problem that pervades the indigenous rights movement in Central America. The Alliance is a regional social movement, but because it currently lacks legal recognition it is limited in the ways it can represent its base. The Technical Secretariat will also enhance the Alliance’s project management and monitoring capacities, allowing the organization to better evaluate where their efforts are succeeding and failing.

For the purpose of launching the territorial fund, AMPB will hire four new personnel who will help create a system to rapidly deploy direct financing to indigenous forest communities where progress can be effectively made in the fight against deforestation and climate change. And because of its wide purview, the fund stands to add new avenues for financing indigenous communities in Central America by potentially attracting collaborative alliances with the private sector and bolstering relationships with national and international agencies.

At the Mesoamerican Leadership School, the grant allows for three new teachers to be hired for the education of indigenous youth in communities in Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras. Many of these courses will be centered on improving the effectiveness of grassroots advocacy and adding new methodologies for negotiation as part of a training curriculum developed in conjunction with Conservation International and Oxfam International.

“Historically, grassroots advocacy methodologies have mostly been limited to ‘protest’ and ‘denunciation,’” explains Josh Lichtenstein, Program Manager for Rainforest Foundation US. “The school’s negotiation courses will build the skills of indigenous youth around how to maximize a community’s leverage when facing down large multinationals.”

Through this grant, Rainforest Foundation US will expand our work into Honduras, Mexico, and Nicaragua for the first time, and return to Guatemala after a few years’ absence. Funding is released as milestones are reached.

Rainforest Foundation US was founded 30 years ago to promote the rights of indigenous peoples living in the rainforest and to support them and other forest communities in their effort to protect and defend their territories.

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CEO Compensation

CEO Compensation

The board develops a comparative base for the evaluation of executive compensation that approximates our organization.  This is then reviewed by the board in determination of any annual salary adjustments from the perspective of market competitiveness and prior year performance.

Whistleblower Policy

Whistleblower Policy

If RFUS receives reports of well-grounded suspicions of corruption and other misconduct, whether from within the organization or outside it, the appropriate program staff deals with it initially. Should the case call for it, an in-depth investigation is carried out, with outside assistance (for example a local auditor) if needed.  Should a whistle-blower not be in a position to report to the Program Coordinator, or choose to remain anonymous, for explicit and reasonable grounds, he/she may alternatively direct his/her report to: ,gro.1713392880ynffr1713392880@stni1713392880alpmo1713392880c1713392880 and it will be addressed by the Executive Director.

The report should include:

  • The full name and position of the whistle-blower (unless he/she wants to remain anonymous – if so, reasonable grounds must be given);
  • The organization where the circumstances occurred;
  • The period, and date and time if applicable, of the circumstances concerned;
  • The precise description of the circumstances (i.e. what has been witnessed, and where);
  • The identity and contact details of other witnesses, if applicable;
  • Any known previous circumstances involving the same person(s).

The staff of a partner organization has the obligation to report suspected corruption, and has the option to bypass immediate superiors, even go outside their local unit, directly to top management or RFUS.

RFUS staff has the obligation to report suspected corruption to their immediate superiors. An incident reporting system aims to track a wider range of incidents that a staff member may experience, such as assault, theft, or being asked to pay a bribe, which do not necessarily require employee protection or confidentiality. Recording of all incidents is important as it serves not only to account for potential financial losses, but also to learn and improve existing prevention and risk mitigation measures – and not only in regard to corruption.

The identity of whistle-blowers will not be revealed, if explicitly requested so or when anonymity applies. Reports will be dealt with confidentially. In the event the identity of a whistle-blower is uncovered, and implies serious risks of retaliation, RFUS commits to take appropriate measures, and to the extent possible, to ensure the safety of the whistle-blower.

Should RFUS staff face threats as a result of a corruption case, RFUS will ensure his/her protection and safety, including by making necessary adjustments to his/her responsibilities and tasks.

All reports of well-grounded suspicions of corruption will be treated immediately. The whistle-blower should get confirmation of reception of his/her report within reasonable time. RFUS management will decide who is to be involved in dealing with the case and what measures should be taken, according to the type of case and who it involves. All documents relating to the case are to be registered and filed in RFUS’s e-archives, with restricted access to staff members involved in dealing with the case.

The RFUS Anti-Corruption Policy will be translated to Portuguese and Spanish, and attached to contracts with partner organizations, circulated within partner organizations, and directly explained by RFUS staff to members of the organizations’ technical and decision-making bodies, to ensure the latter are informed about RFUS’s whistle-blowing mechanism.

Conflict of Interest Policy

Conflict of Interest Policy

Article I — Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to protect the interest of Rainforest Foundation — US (“RF- US”), a tax-exempt organization, when it is contemplating entering into a transaction or arrangement that might benefit the private interest of an RF-US officer or director or might result in a possible excess benefit transaction. This policy is intended to supplement but not replace any applicable state and federal laws governing conflict of interest applicable to nonprofit and charitable organizations.

Article II — Definitions

Interested Person
Any director, principal officer, or member of a committee with governing board delegated powers, who has a direct or indirect financial interest, as defined below, is an interested person.

Financial Interest
A person has a financial interest if the person has, directly or indirectly, through business, investment, or family:

  1. An ownership or investment interest in any entity with which the RF-US has a transaction or arrangement;
  2. A compensation arrangement with the RF-US or with any entity or individual with which the RF-US has a transaction or arrangement; or
  3. A potential ownership or investment interest in, or compensation arrangement with, any entity or individual with which the RF-US is negotiating a transaction or arrangement.

Compensation includes direct and indirect remuneration as well as gifts or favors that are not insubstantial. A financial interest is not necessarily a conflict of interest. Under Article Ill, Section 2, a person who has a financial interest may have a conflict of interest only if the appropriate governing board or committee decides that a conflict of interest exists.

Article Ill — Procedures

1. Duty to Disclose
In connection with any actual or possible conflict of interest, an interested person must disclose the existence of the financial interest and be given the opportunity to disclose all material facts to the directors and members of committees with governing board delegated powers considering the proposed transaction or arrangement.

2. Determining Whether a Conflict of Interest Exists
After disclosure of the financial interest and all material facts, and after any discussion
with the interested person, he/she shall leave the governing board or committee meeting while the determination of a conflict of interest is discussed and voted upon. The remaining board or committee members shall decide if a conflict of interest exists.

3. Procedures for Addressing the Conflict of Interest

  1. An interested person may make a presentation at the governing board or committee meeting, but after the presentation, he/she shall leave the meeting during the discussion of, and the vote on, the transaction or arrangement involving the possible conflict of interest.
  2. The chairperson of the governing board or committee shall, if appropriate, appoint a disinterested person or committee to investigate alternatives to the proposed transaction or arrangement.
  3. After exercising due diligence, the governing board or committee shall determine whether the RF-US can obtain with reasonable efforts a more advantageous transaction or arrangement from a person or entity that would not give rise to a conflict of interest.
  4. If a more advantageous transaction or arrangement is not reasonably possible under circumstances not producing a conflict of interest, the governing board or committee
    shall determine by a majority vote of the disinterested directors whether the transaction or arrangement is in the RF-US’s best interest, for its own benefit, and whether it is fair and reasonable. In conformity with the above determination it shall make its decision as to whether to enter into the transaction or arrangement.

4. Violations of the Conflicts of Interest Policy

  1. If the governing board or committee has reasonable cause to believe a member has failed to disclose actual or possible conflicts of interest, it shall inform the member of the basis for such belief and afford the member an opportunity to explain the alleged failure to disclose.
  2. If, after hearing the member’s response and after making further investigation as warranted by the circumstances, the governing board or committee determines the member has failed to disclose an actual or possible conflict of interest, it shall take appropriate disciplinary and corrective action.

Article IV — Records of Proceedings

The minutes of the governing board and all committees with board delegated powers shall contain:

  1. The names of the persons who disclosed or otherwise were found to have a financial interest in connection with an actual or possible conflict of interest, the nature of the financial interest, any action taken to determine whether a conflict of interest was present, and the governing board’s or committee’s decision as to whether a conflict of interest in fact existed.
  2. The names of the persons who were present for discussions and votes relating to the transaction or arrangement, the content of the discussion, including any alternatives to the proposed transaction or arrangement, and a record of any votes taken in connection with the proceedings.

Article V — Compensation

  1. A voting member of the governing board who receives compensation, directly or indirectly, from the RF-US for services is precluded from voting on matters pertaining to that member’s compensation.
  2. A voting member of any committee whose jurisdiction includes compensation matters and who receives compensation, directly or indirectly, from the RF-US for services is precluded from voting on matters pertaining to that member’s compensation.
  3. No voting member of the governing board or any committee whose jurisdiction includes compensation matters and who receives compensation, directly or indirectly, from the RF-US, either individually or collectively, is prohibited from providing information to any committee regarding compensation.

Article VI — Annual Statements

Each director, principal officer and member of a committee with governing board delegated powers shall annually sign a statement which affirms such person:

  1. Has received a copy of the conflicts of interest policy,
  2. Has read and understands the policy,
  3. Has agreed to comply with the policy, and
  4. Understands that RF-US is a charitable organization and that in order to maintain its federal tax exemption it must engage primarily in activities which accomplish one or more of its tax-exempt purposes.

Article VII — Periodic Reviews

To ensure that RF-US operates in a manner consistent with charitable purposes and does not engage in activities that could jeopardize its tax-exempt status, periodic reviews shall be conducted. The periodic reviews shall, at a minimum, include the following subjects:

  1. Whether compensation arrangements and benefits are reasonable, based on competent survey information, and the result of arm’s length bargaining.
  2. Whether partnerships, joint ventures, and arrangements with management organizations conform to the RF-US’s written policies, are properly recorded, reflect reasonable investment or payments for goods and services, further charitable purposes and do not result in inurement, impermissible private benefit or in an excess benefit transaction.

Article VIII — Use of Outside Experts

When conducting the periodic reviews as provided for in Article VII, RF-US may, but need not, use outside advisors. If outside experts are used, their use shall not relieve the governing board of its responsibility for ensuring that periodic reviews are conducted.

Privacy

Privacy Policy

The Rainforest Foundation-US (RF-US) respects the privacy of each individual who contacts us. The Rainforest Foundation-US (RF-US) will not sell, share, or trade the personal information of donors or individuals who contact us. We are grateful for your support and the crucial role you play in helping us continue our valuable work. As part of our commitment to safeguarding your privacy we have adopted the online privacy policy outlined below.

Collection and Use of Information

We collect two kinds of information: (i) site usage data, which is not individually identifiable, and (ii) individually identifiable information.

Site Usage Data

Our Web server automatically recognizes and collects the domain name of each visitor to our Web site. We collect information about visitors to our site, such as the number of visitors, what pages they access and the length of their visit. This information is used in aggregate form in order to manage our Web site and improve its content. Visitors to RF-US’s website and other online projects are able to browse anonymously. We do log the IP addresses and originating domains of visitors to our site, and several times a year we examine this data to gain a general understanding of traffic on our site and what features on our site may be of special or particular interest. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.

Individually Identifiable Information

We collect individually identifiable information about you when you choose to share information about yourself, for example, when you make a donation, request information or sign up to be an advocate. This information may include your postal or e-mail address, telephone number and issues of interest Individually identifiable information is used to provide you with information or to deliver the services you have requested. If you provide your postal address, telephone number or e-mail address to the RF-US online, you may receive periodic contacts from us. In the future, on certain parts of some of our site, only persons who provide us with the requested personally identifiable information may be able to use tools or otherwise participate in the site’s activities and offerings. We also may collect certain non-personally identifiable information when you visit some Web pages or fill out forms such as the type of browser you are using (e.g., Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari), the type of operating system you are using, (e.g., Windows, Mac OS, Android) and the domain name of your Internet service provider (e.g., Optimum, Verizon, Comcast).

Community Tools

Some portions of our site may provide special services and offer interactive tools that allow users to upload information for public consumption. In some cases, users can share experiences, give advice and connect with others. Please remember hat chat rooms, message boards and personal pages are public forums and personal information disclosed there will be seen by others. In addition, please exercise caution when posting information or providing information about yourself to others, especially contact information, such as street address, telephone number or email address.

Cookies

We use a technology called a “cookie” to recognize you when you return to our site. Cookies help make your visit more convenient and enjoyable. However, if you wish, you may direct your browser to reject cookies.

Sharing Information with Others

RF-US respects and protects the privacy of our volunteers, donors, supporters, and patrons, as well as of individuals visiting our web site and other online projects. We do not sell, rent, share, or exchange our e-mail lists. RF-US maintains a database that includes contact information about our volunteers, donors, supporters, and patrons. Our database will not be sold, rented, shared, exchanged, or be used for anything other than RF-US activity.

Email Communications

We occasionally send out an email newsletter and direct email communications to RF-US site visitors to highlight news, information and opportunities available from the RF-US. You can elect not to receive communications from us, by noting your preference in response to communications from us.  In addition, all RF-US a-newsletters and direct email communications have easy-to-follow unsubscribe instructions at, the bottom of each email.

Links to Other Sites

Our site will at times link to other Web sites where you can find out more about our sponsors or products. Please note that the RF-US is not responsible for the privacy policies and information practices of linked sites. We encourage you to review the privacy policy of each site you visit.

Children Online

Protecting the privacy of the very young is especially important. For that reason, we adhere to the 11998 Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). (For more information, visit the Federal Trade Commission’s COPPA page.  Whenever we collect or maintain information at our Web site from those we actually know are under 13, we obtain parental consent before any personally identifiable information is collected, used or disclosed.

Security

In order to prevent unauthorized access and protect our users’ personal information, we strive to maintain physical, electronic and administrative safeguards to secure the information we collect online. For example, online shopping and contributions are processes using a secure server. This secure server software, SSL (Secure Sockets Layer), encrypts all information you input before it is sent to us. Furthermore, all oft e customer transactional data we collect is protected against unauthorized access with the use of digital certificates.

Privacy Policy Changes

If we decide to change our privacy policy, we will post those changes here. We encourage you to review our policy from time to time.

Questions or Concerns

Whenever you have any questions or concerns, please contact us through any medium you prefer. Your complete satisfaction in dealing with the RF-US is important to us. If you have questions about the RF-US’s privacy practices described above, or RF-US generally, please send an e-mail message to gro.y1713392880nffr@1713392880nimda1713392880. Thank you.

THE EARTH IS SPEAKING​

Will you listen?

This Earth Day, join us and our Indigenous partners in protecting rainforests—and our planet.

Any amount makes a difference.

Didier Devers
Chief of Party – USAID Guatemala
gro.y1713392880nffr@1713392880sreve1713392880dd1713392880

Didier has been coordinating the USAID-funded B’atz project since joining Rainforest Foundation US in April 2022. He holds a Master’s in Applied Anthropology and a Bachelor’s in Geography. Before joining the organization, Didier worked for 12 years in Central and South America on issues of transparency, legality, governance, and managing stakeholders’ processes in the environmental sector. Prior to that he worked on similar issues in Central Africa. He speaks French, Spanish, and English, and is based in Guatemala.