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REDD+ Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation

UN-REDD gathers Latin American journalists in Colombia for a media workshop


On 23 July, journalists from 10 Latin American countries arrived in Colombia for a 4-day media workshop. Organised by the UN-REDD Programme with support from LatinClima, the media trip brought together journalists and media experts as a contribution to the ongoing international debate about the importance of tropical forests for climate change mitigation actions. The goal was to advance participants’ understanding of the importance of community-led REDD+ actions by exposing them to the real-life example of the COCOMASUR Community who recently developed the first REDD+ conservation project in Colombia that generated carbon credits for protecting the forest in a collective territory.

The role of media is central to raising awareness and providing a better understanding of the important role that forests play in the agenda for Climate Change and Sustainable Development. Often covered with a blanket of technical terms and tucked in by UN jargon, the concept of Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) is rarely easy to understand for people not directly involved in the process. However, it is not said in vain that it is better to see once than to hear one hundred times.

To demonstrate REDD+ in action, the UN-REDD Programme, one of the central players on the REDD+ arena, organised a media workshop in north-western Colombia for journalists from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Honduras, Mexico, Panama and Peru.

During the trip, the journalists had a chance to talk to experts on the issues related to the role of forests in mitigating climate change and to discuss the challenges of undertaking environmental reporting in Latin America. After a fruitful discussion, the journalists moved to the Chocó Darién Conservation Corridor in Colombia, which contains some of the best examples of community-led REDD+ activities.   

The government of Colombia began a dialogue and information sessions on REDD+ in 2010, consequently joining the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) and UN-REDD (in 2013). Afro-Colombian communities have been very active in REDD+ consultations in the country ensuring community participation in monitoring activities and protection and recognition of indigenous and afro-Colombian collective territories. One of such projects was developed on the territory of the Chocó Darién Conservation Corridor.

The Chocó Darién Conservation Corridor Project that facilitates the conservation of 13 4651 hectares of primary forest is located in the municipality of Acandí, in the collective property of the Council of Afro-Colombian Communities of the Tolo River Basin and the Southern Coastal Zone (COCOMASUR). COCOMASUR is formed of 480 families divided into nine local councils who own the Project. The Project Area is located in the Serranía del Darién, an area of great biological diversity and high concentration of endemic species, it also borders the Darién National Park in Panama and is close to Katíos National Natural Park.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has collaborated with these communities since 2016 when an agreement letter was signed in order to work towards strengthening the technical capacity of the other four Afro-Colombian organisations in the areas of governance and forest monitoring. In 2017, a knowledge exchange between Afro-Colombian organisations was held to further strengthen these capacities. The collaboration helped connect COCOMASUR with Colombia’s Institute of Hydrology, Meteorology and Environmental Studies (IDEAM). Both organisations still keep in touch through a national network of community-based forest monitoring that seeks to share the advances in forest monitoring of the communities in the country.

Similar projects were implemented under the UN-REDD Programme. For instance, UN-REDD was instrumental in implementing the social and environmental safeguards that Colombia has committed to addressing within the framework of REDD+ in order to guarantee respect and support to all communities that live in and depend on forests.

During the media trip to Acandí, the journalists had a unique opportunity to stay with Afro-Colombian families, experience the tropical forest and get to know how to measure carbon. Adriana Patricia Yepes Quintero, FAO national coordinator for the UN-REDD programme in Colombia commented on the field trip:

“It was very inspiring to see how the COCOMASUR in Colombia use community monitoring as a tool to not only recognise their territory and strengthen its governance, but also to identify possible causes of deforestation, in the majority of cases, caused by people outside the community. This process is also key to help children and young people develop a sense of belonging to the territory and to the natural resources that they have. We have a message to share with the world and media will enable this message to move further, faster, and to many destinations.”


Taller ONU-REDD de periodistas latinoamericanos en Colombia.

As a result of the workshop, several articles were produced and published in newspapers around the region, Semana Sostenible, LatinClima among them. The articles covered various topics and highlighted the role of local communities in the conservation of forests and other resources that are important to life in cities. The experience also reminded everyone about the importance of media in promoting dialogue between different cultures and empowering people, keeping them well informed and proactive.

As also highlighted by the UN-REDD new story on the workshop, the experience of walking through the forests and touching base with ground reality on sustainable development was a real highlight for the journalists.  Marlene Testa, a journalist from La Estrella de Panamá, said:

 "If there is one thing that I have to highlight from this experience, it would be undoubtedly the walk through the forest, a fascinating experience that I would repeat over and over again with the sole objective of continuing to deepen that model of sustainable development that the community had implemented. This is an example that could be replicated in all our regions across Latin America.”



Useful links:

UN-REDD and Colombia: a compilation of publications

UN-REDD Colombia: Logros, Aprendizajes y Retos: https://www.unredd.net/documents/un-redd-partner-countries-181/latin-america-the-caribbean-334/colombia-706/16789-onu-redd-colombia-logros-aprendizajes-y-retos-informe-final.html

UN-REDD Colombia Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CQr3VW2OZx8

Caracterización de las principales causas y agentes de la deforestación a nivel nacional, 2005–2015:  http://www.fao.org/3/I9618ES/i9618es.pdf

Estimación de la degradación de bosques de Colombia a través de un análisis de fragmentación: http://www.fao.org/3/I9581ES/i9581es.pdf
Lineamientos conceptuales y metodológicos para la caracterización de causas y agentes de la deforestación en Colombia: http://www.fao.org/3/I9579ES/i9579es.pdf

Propuesta de alineamientos para el monitoreo participativo en Colombia y su articulación con el Sistema Nacional de Monitoreo de Bosques: http://www.fao.org/3/I9584ES/i9584es.pdf

Sistematización de la Experiencia de Monitoreo de los Recursos Naturales en COCOMASUR: https://www.unredd.net/documents/un-redd-partner-countries-181/latin-america-the-caribbean-334/colombia-706/16778-sistematizacion-de-la-experiencia-de-monitoreo-de-los-recursos-naturales-en-cocomasur.html


For more information, please contact:

Lucio Santos

Regional Technical Advisor for Latin America and the Caribbean,

REDD+/NFM Cluster, Forestry Department, FAO


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