Forest Peoples Programme
Synchronicity Earth has supported Forest Peoples Programme (FPP) since 2013 to pilot an integrated approach to conservation and development with the Ogiek of Mount Elgon and the Sengwer of the Cherangany Hills, Kenya, as well as more recently with the Batwa in Kahuzi-Biega National Park, Eastern DRC.
FPP works across the tropics to ensure that forest peoples are able to secure their land rights; are involved (by governments and companies) in decision-making about land-use change; and are free to determine how conservation and development agendas are best reconciled on their lands.
At the IUCN Commission on Environmental, Economic and Social Policy (CEESP) Sharing Power conference in Whakatane, New Zealand, January 2011, a meeting was held between indigenous representatives, various IUCN Commissions, sub-commissions and staff, and international NGOs (including FPP) to develop solutions towards inclusion of indigenous communities in the management of protected areas. The result of this discussion was the development of the “Whakatane Mechanism”, which aims “to address and redress the effects of historic and current injustices against indigenous peoples in the name of conservation of nature and natural resources”. The mechanism aims to engage all key stakeholders from indigenous community representatives to government officals to park rangers, to develop mutually agreed solutions where conservation works in cooperation with local people. The group agreed to trial the approach through two pilots, one in Thailand and one in Kenya.
FPP has been leading work to trial the approach with the Ogiek of Mount Elgon Kenya, who had been evicted from their ancestral land and persecuted on their return. It is now working with the Kenyan government and the Ogiek to draft new national laws; support court cases; and develop bylaws and governance structures to ensure they can continue using their land sustainably while protecting their ecosystems. It is thereby developing a new conservation model that can be shared with others through links with indigenous peoples’ networks and the IUCN. Interest in the project grew across Kenya and other parts of Africa and FPP has since begun working to develop a similar approach with the Sengwer in the Cherangany Hills, Kenya as well as with the Batwa in Eastern DRC. The work towards establishing dialogue and developing a common solution to the marginalisation of the Batwa people in the management of Kahuzi-Biega National Park is now a key focus of Synchronicity Earth’s Congo Basin programme.