The ICCA Network ‘Territories of Life in Argentina’ (RED TICCA) is an autonomous political organization of Indigenous peoples for the recognition and application of Indigenous rights and the defense of their territories at the national level. RED TICCA’s work promotes political recognition of Indigenous peoples as bearers of a millenary wisdom regarding the protection of nature and ancestral guardians of the territory. The network is groundbreaking in its ability to bridge communities throughout the country to achieve food sovereignty, access to clean water, improved public health, intergenerational equity and gender equality. The communities have also protected their ancestral lands by joining the global ICCA Consortium, a global movement to protect the territories of Indigenous Peoples and local communities (a.k.a “Territories of Life”). RED TICCA has connected and empowered the Indigenous peoples of Argentina and has reaffirmed their ownership over their territories, culture, and natural resources – a historic step for Indigenous rights and recognition in Argentina.

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Instituto Zág is an Indigenous youth-led organization whose key activity is the reforestation and preservation of traditional knowledge around the Araucaria tree, known as Zág. The Zág tree holds sacred and symbolic value to the Xokleng Peoples, but is currently on the verge of extinction due to centuries of uncontrolled exploitation. Reclaiming the traditional territory of the Xokleng Peoples in the State of Santa Catarina, where the Zág tree thrives, is one of the most emblematic struggles for Indigenous rights in Brazil, and in the world today. With only 2% of the Zág tree’s original habitat remaining, the reforestation efforts of Instituto Zág are crucial for the survival of the Araucaria and of the continuation of ancestral wisdom. These efforts include removing invasive trees, valuing ancestral traditions, and conducting educational activities with diverse audiences to safeguard the Araucaria tree as a source of nutrition, medicine, and cultural identity. Through its actions, Instituto Zág recognizes the interdependence between the Zág tree and the Xokleng people.

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COP 26 – the climate negotiations that took place last month in Glasgow – brought a groundswell of engagement of Indigenous peoples and local communities. Indigenous peoples’ representatives were the second-largest civil society group present in Scotland, second only to the oil and gas lobby. Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities (IPLCs) have always stewarded and sustainably managed their ancestral lands. The recognition and respect of their rights and knowledge in international climate agendas is crucial. And yet, the inclusion of their perspectives in climate negotiations has historically been limited. So what progress was really made at COP 26, with so many Indigenous peoples and local community activists present? At UNDP’s Equator Initiative, we followed the negotiations closely and have gathered perspectives from the ground – with surprising insights! Johnson Cerda, advisor to the Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Platform, and the Director of the Dedicated Grant Mechanism Global Executing Agency at Conservation International, noted improvements in meaningful IPLC engagement at COP26. About 150 Indigenous representatives participated in plenary discussions with governments, side panels and roundtables, and unlike in other years, IPLCs had the opportunity to speak in the COP newsroom. In addition, the Indigenous peoples Pavilion – a physical space for IPLCs to program and manage – was inside the Blue Zone for the first time ever. And yet, there is still a long way to go before IPLCs can have a real, accessible, equitable and empowered role in climate negotiations: “We have knowledge and we want to contribute.” So, what can Governments and Global Agencies do to support IPLCs? First, governments and global institutions must step up their commitment to include IPLCs’ perspectives in climate actions and negotiations. Heylin Reyes, 2021 Equator Prize Winner and coordinator of the Association of Indigenous Women of the Cabécar Kábata Könana Territory in Costa Rica, and Javier Kinney, the manager of the Forest Carbon Project and member of the Yurok Tribe in California, call for more meaningful inclusion of IPLC professionals and women in climate negotiations. ‘Indigenous Diplomats’ need to be invited to negotiations to work alongside governments. “We need to begin experimenting with a different world. This is our way of making an impact,” shared Heylin Reyes in the public virtual event “Voices of Truth, Voices of Hope: IPLCs report on COP26” co-organized by the Equator Initiative and Confluence Philanthropy. In bringing their first-hand experiences to COP26, IPLCs provided examples of nature-based climate solutions to donors, global agencies, and policymakers. Second, there must be more financial support from governments and international donors to facilitate meaningful IPLC engagement at the global level. Johnson Cerda and Kimaren ole Riamit, Founder and Director of Indigenous Livelihoods Enhancement Partners (ILEPA, Kenya), explained that IPLC participation is still constrained by the lack of access to funding mechanisms for the cost of loss and damages from climate change, as well as for IPLCs’ participation in climate negotiations. More climate finance needs to be dedicated to  Indigenous Peoples in easily accessible ways, regardless of what landscape they are in, be it forest, desert, mountains, or oceans. Additionally, as IPLCs continue to advocate for their needs and priorities at the global level, it is important that they further participate in existing and new spaces of engagement for climate negotiations and actions. Johnson Cerda and the other experts from Indigenous peoples and local communities whom we spoke with, as well as Kimberly Todd, UNDP Climate and Forests Technical Specialist, suggested four important areas of further IPLC engagement in global climate talks:       IPLCs can participate in finalizing elements  for  the functioning of international carbon markets under Article 6, including, for example, the shaping of  “robust social and environmental safeguards” under the UNFCCC Article 6.4 mechanism. The Supervisory Body that will oversee the 6.4 mechanism is required to consider direct engagement with the Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Platform and its Facilitative Working Group, making Article 6 an explicit and critical opportunity for participation of IPLCs.       Indigenous peoples can join the International Indigenous Peoples Forum on Climate Change (IIPFCC), the caucus for Indigenous peoples participating in the UNFCCC, in preparing for future climate negotiations through its specific Working Groups.       At the national level, IPLCs can look for spaces to engage with the government, such as roundtables or pre-negotiation conversations to discuss climate change and REDD+. These platforms are present in various countries including Ecuador, Guatemala, Peru, and others.   Funding and learning opportunities are available for IPLCs to better engage at the global level, such as those mentioned in the IP Advocacy Course by Graeme Reed, the Indigenous Peoples at the UN Course and the Workbook on UNFCCC and IP organized by the UNDP and Tribal Link Foundation, or the CBD Voluntary Fund to facilitate IPLC engagement at the CBD. As Kimaren ole Riamit reflected, Indigenous peoples are accepted as faithful stewards of nature. They come forth not as victims but as stewards who have distinguished themselves in having low carbon footprints, as part of the solution, and not part of the problem. It is time to ensure that IPLCs take center stage in climate solutions and sustainable development, aiming for more inclusivity and creating an impact for all. At COP 26, this realization was spelled out as clearly as never before – in this sense, the latest climate talks represented progress for IPLCs, even though there’s a long road ahead.

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Perfect Village Communities “PVC Burundi” is a community-owned and managed social enterprise that recognizes the correlation between environmental degradation and decreasing community health. To address this issue, PVC Burundi focuses on empowering local communities, with a particular emphasis on women and youth, by promoting self-sufficiency through the utilization of natural, locally-produced alternatives for land restoration and sustainable food production. Notably, they produce products such as organic manure bio-control methods for pests and diseases such as malaria, tailored to the community’s specific needs and offered at affordable prices. Consequently, community members not only restore the land but also experience increased farm yields, leading to improved food security and better nutrition. Moreover, by selling surplus produce, they address developmental challenges, including accessing healthcare services. To date, PVC Burundi has planted over 500,000 diverse seedlings and trees, successfully regenerating 5,000 hectares of land, while contributing to the restoration and preservation of the local environment.

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The Asociación de Desarrollo Productivo y de Servicios Tikonel (Asociación Tikonel) is an organization fostering sustainable natural resource management and the development of community-led micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs). Operating in 152 communities nationwide, with a particular emphasis on the volcanic chain in the western highlands of Guatemala, the initiative has strongly contributed to the sustainable management of 3,776 hectares of land, including soil conservation, reforestation, and agroforestry. In their mission to combat environmental degradation, Asociación Tikonel has provided improved cookstoves to 50 families and implemented training programs for over 8,000 community members on various topics related to sustainable forest management and forest conservation. They collaborate with the National Forest Institute for business management projects and are integrated in 11 local grassroots organizations, as well as 18 MSMEs working on community entrepreneurship and sustainable value chains. Through their activities, including the sustainable production and selling of wooden and textile articles, Asociación Tikonel successfully promotes inclusion, gender equity, and empowerment of Indigenous peoples.

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Call for nominations to the Equator Prize 2024 Nominate now!   Equator Prize 2024: Nature for Climate Action   This year’s Equator Prize will recognize innovative initiatives that showcase how action on nature, led by Indigenous Peoples and local communities, can provide effective climate solutions, and demonstrate effective pathways to transform our global systems for people and Planet. Winning initiatives will be honored for their successes in protecting, restoring, and/or sustainably managing nature for nature-positive development outcomes. Thematic priorities include: Nature for Climate Mitigation. Actions to protect, conserve and restore forests, mangroves, peatlands, soils, oceans, and marine ecosystems. This includes actions to: Maintain intact ecosystems as they sequester better – forests, mangroves, peatlands and soils are the greatest natural carbon stores Uphold Indigenous Peoples’ land tenure, governance, rights and traditional knowledge as they are essential to protect forests and key ecosystems Protect and restore ecosystems as an urgent priority Achieve forests’ protection through participatory monitoring and mapping at large scale Nature for Climate Adaptation and Resilience. Actions to integrate nature into planning for water security, food security, disaster risk reduction, enhanced livelihoods and community resilience. Building climate resilient food systems, and developing regenerative agriculture and forestry practices to adapt to climate change. This includes actions to: Transform our food systems to be more climate resilient, less carbon-intensive and adapt to climate change Build community resilience as key to adapt and tackle disaster risk reduction Tackle water security since it is key for life – protecting and restoring ecosystems is critical for water at all levels, including continental Protect nature to ensure disease prevention Nature for a Just Transition. Actions to green the economy in a way that is as fair and inclusive as possible to all society, including Indigenous Peoples and local communities, creating decent work opportunities and leaving no one behind. Showing how solutions led at the local-level can contribute to a global value shift, including an economic and finance shift. Harnessing circular economy and reusing materials to reduce the need for resource extraction and minimize pressure on wildlife and threats to biodiversity. Shaping a nature-positive future by rethinking business as usual as an opportunity to sustainably manage and regenerate nature and catalyze zero-carbon economies. This includes actions to: Show that Indigenous Peoples and local communities can create and lead successful enterprises Prove that effective local green solutions can reduce inequalities, improve livelihoods, enhance responsible production and consumption, create inclusive, resilient and zero-carbon economies, while bringing health benefits Demonstrate that micro small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) show viable solutions to climate and opportunities for nature regeneration and economic transformation Initiate new models of climate finance and funding mechanisms can be put in place to fund resilience, adaptation and climate action Respect Indigenous Peoples’ rights as essential to building a new sustainable and thriving economy Special consideration will be given to nominees championing youth and women-led climate action. Local nature-based solutions for sustainable development The Equator Prize 2024 nomination process offers community-based initiatives the opportunity to share their work on the Equator Initiative’s web portal of local nature-based solutions for sustainable development. The platform connects communities around the world and shares local solutions that work for people and the planet. Participation in this platform is optional when submitting nominations for the Equator Prize. NOMINATE NOW

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