Indigenous-led climate solutions in the peruvian amazon

A man and a woman in red T-shirts tap rubber with a bucket in the Peruvian rainforest

Climate change has profound effects on the lives of approximately 300,000 indigenous inhabitants of the Peruvian Amazon. In response to this critical challenge, Peru’s National Protected Areas Service (SERNANP) and UNDP implemented a pioneering climate adaptation project, supported by the International Climate Initaitve (IKI).

The project initially focused on two communal reserves directly benefiting 33 communities. The project aimed to develop scalable nature-based solutions to enhance community resilience.

The project's core strategy involved bolstering the adaptive capacity of these communities through the integration of ecosystem-based adaptation strategies (EBA) and community-based adaptation strategies (CBA). These strategies addressed four pivotal aspects:

  1. Strengthening territorial governance: Empowering local communities and fostering collaborative relationships between the State and these populations for joint action
  2. Productive diversification: Promoting sustainable economic activities adapted to climate change, both in the short and medium term
  3. Enhancing livelihoods: Elevating the income levels and reducing food insecurity for families
  4. Biodiversity Conservation: Protecting and maintaining ecosystem services and biodiversity.

Nature-based sustainable development cluster model

To achieve these ambitious goals efficiently and sustainably, a nature-based sustainable development cluster model was established, consisting of three strategic pillars:

Fostering long-term partnerships

At the heart of the nature-based sustainable development cluster model were long-term partnerships cultivated between protected area management and local communities. These partnerships were encapsulated in Conservation and Sustainable Development Agreements, referred to as ACODES. These agreements went beyond mere paperwork; they are a reflection of a shared vision for sustainable and resilient development that extended far beyond the lifespan of individual projects.

Nature-based economic activities

Within the nature-based sustainable development cluster model, the second pillar focused on fostering climate-resilient, nature-based enterprises and value chains. These not only improved local economies but also contributed to immediate income growth and reducing food insecurity. The activities were designed collaboratively with communities and received technical support for their implementation.

Finance resource mobilisation

The third and final pillar is financial resource mobilisation. Effective financing is essential for driving local development initiatives and scaling up successful solutions. This pillar emphasizes the importance of aligning and leveraging funding from a variety of local and national public and private sources. Furthermore, mechanisms to facilitate both horizontal and vertical integration were promoted within this model. This integration helped to bring to scale tested solutions.

Project achievements

An overview of the remarkable achievements realized through the project include:

Sustainable clusters for ongoing impact: Two nature-based sustainable development clusters were established within each communal reserve. These clusters not only sustained but also scaled initiatives benefiting local communities well beyond the project's completion. Ongoing ACODES with communities ensured continuous progress and collaboration.

Enhanced biodiversity conservation: Significant enhancements have been made in biodiversity conservation across protected areas and indigenous territories. Community commitments and actions have led to a conservation status of 99.31% and 98.56% in the two communal reserves, spanning to a total of 500,000 hectares. One of the reserves, The Amarakaeri communal reserve, was included as part of the IUCN Green List, certified along with 60 other protected areas globally as models of effective management.

Empowering communities: Over 600 families have experienced a 100% increase in income, accompanied by improvements in food security, through active engagement in nature-based value chains.

Community-owned business: Two indigenous community-owned enterprises have been established in connection with each communal reserve. This initiative included a benefit-sharing scheme that provided sustainable finance, ensuring the continued co-management of the reserves by the local communities.

Mobilised resources for growth: Approximately US$ 2.2 million had been mobilised from various public and private sources. These funds guarantee the ongoing continuation and expansion of solutions well beyond the project's completion.

Empowered decision-making: Indigenous communities are now more actively involved in the decision-making process for local development investments, ensuring that their voices and priorities are heard.

Building upon this success, SERNANP has initiated a process to scale up the nature-based sustainable development cluster model for all nationally administered natural protected areas in Peru, encompassing approximately 17% of the national territory. This visionary decision, in partnership with local populations and civil society organisations, aims to extend this approach to biodiverse hotspots where highly vulnerable populations reside. Through this scaling approach, SERNANP has the potential to drive nature-positive, climate resilient development in NPA landscapes that represent 30% of the national territory.

This innovative model has been recognized and incorporated into multiple sector-based public policies and programmes. It represents a collaborative effort that brings together the government, private sector, international cooperation, and civil society organizations in pursuit of a climate resilient and nature-positive future.

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