Honduras: Free, Prior and Informed Consent principles pave the way towards indigenous peoples’ participation in VPA negotiations

Honduras has become the first VPA country in which indigenous peoples are playing a key role in the VPA process. Indigenous communities who are members of the Confederación de Pueblos Autóctonos de Honduras (CONPAH) are now formally participating in VPA negotiations in the country. The indigenous peoples, through CONPAH and AV, are developing mechanisms for implementing Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) to facilitate their participation in the VPA process.

Several FPIC workshops have taken place in Honduras since 2014, the most recent on 11 March 2015 in La Esperanza, Intibucá. The workshops ensure that indigenous peoples understand the FPIC mechanism and its implementation. The workshops have also served as a forum for the indigenous peoples to voice their expectations and concerns about the VPA.

A communication campaign is also taking place in Honduras under the slogan “Sin Derechos Indígenas y Gobernanza Forestal no hay AVA-FLEGT” (“without indigenous rights and forest governance there is no FLEGT-VPA”).

Honduras and the European Union started formal negotiations on a VPA in January 2013. Honduras is the first country in Latin America to negotiate a VPA.

"Addressing the underlying drivers of poor governance is proving to be a key thread of the Honduran VPA. This is involving first and foremost broadening the discussion to include land tenure, corruption and extra-sectoral deforestation drivers." - Daphne Hewitt, FAO FLEGT Forestry Officer for Latin America.

"Building consensus on a mechanism which will enable indigenous communities to actively engage in dialogue around the VPA is extremely challenging, in Honduras and elsewhere. The VPA brings to the fore concepts which are new to many of the groups and can appear overwhelmingly complex. Adding to that, cultural differences among them, the geographical isolation of many indigenous peoples, and historical grievance within groups that are encountered, create very real challenges in this process.

As a recent Global Witness report highlights, rural and indigenous peoples in Honduras face very real threats to their personal security when confronting illegal activities and assassinations are tragically all too frequent. Alianza Verde and CONPAH are making a tremendous effort to reach out to all members of their organizations to build a consensus-based process of FPIC in Honduras.

EU FAO FLEGT continues to support these processes of active and inclusive participation and we anticipate greater involvement of indigenous peoples in the VPA going forward, as was demonstrated by their effective participation in the recent 3rd round of negotiations in Tegucigalpa.” - Daphne Hewitt, FAO FLEGT Forestry Officer for Latin America.