During a virtual conversation, three EUROCLIMA+ actions shared their experience in addressing Climate Change with the most vulnerable indigenous peoples in the

Maya and Garifuna regions of Guatemala, Lencas in Honduras, and the Guna of Panama in Central America, as well as the management of these processes in a COVID19 context.

The experiences shared stand out among the lessons learned and methodologies: a community-level approach with a participatory approach, encouraging the participation of women and empowering them to become involved and make decisions in food production, rescuing traditional indigenous practices, building trust with indigenous communities with a Free and Informed Prior Consultation process, and taking advantage of virtual media, among others.
The speakers pointed out that although, in the face of the COVID19 pandemic, progress was made in actions using virtual communication media, these media are not very suitable for work with indigenous peoples, given that in order to generate trust, indigenous communities place great value on body language and the physical presence of external agents, as well as on limitations in access to and use of digital platforms.

Ms. Isabel Pasos of the Mesoamerican Alliance of Peoples and Forests presented the experience of the gender approach in the territorial management of indigenous peoples in Central America. This is carried out in the framework of the project Communities, Forests and Biodiversity: Promoting dialogue, Exchange, and forest value chains to adapt to and mitigate climate change, which is implemented by ICCO Cooperation, as the main executor.

Pasos highlighted that work is underway to set up a Mesoamerican Territorial Fund (MTF) to guarantee access to credit for women in local economic initiatives with economic impact and aimed at the conservation of natural ecosystems. She pointed out that in the current context, ICCO Cooperation is working on four pillars with indigenous women: 1) Productive development, 2) Partnerships, 3) Knowledge mobilisation and 4) Socialisation.

FPIC with indigenous communities

For its part, the Dutch Development Cooperation Service (SNV), the main executor of the Climate-Smart Family Farming project (AFCIPRA), presented its experience in the process of obtaining Free and Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) with the Lenca indigenous populations of Honduras. The presentation was made by Mr. Carlos Perdomo, the anthropological consultant to the project.

Perdomo reported that a broad and transparent Free and Prior Informed Consultation Process (FPIC) was carried out with leaders of 33 Lenca indigenous communities (44% women) that enabled obtaining Consent for the execution of the project.

Among the lessons learned, Perdomo highlighted the need to generate trust based on a logic of transparent methodology, "from the beginning of the process the communities were trained on their rights and on how the FPIC process should be, according to agreement 169," he added. He also emphasised that the social capital of the local partner in the territory and the experience and mandates of SNV in working with indigenous communities, added to the trust generated in the process, were facilitating elements for the development of FPIC.

He highlighted that the best ancestral Lenca practices resilient to Climate Change were identified to be incorporated into the project, and that the project is adapted to the worldview, knowledge and ancestral culture of the Lenca people, and not that the Lenca people adapt to the practices proposed by the project.

Perdomo noted that the community approach was key to ensuring women's participation in the processes. He added that the strategy they followed where there was no Lenca indigenous council was to involve and sign with the Water Boards, organisations with a very good level of convocation and credibility.

Traditional knowledge, SAN and CC

Meanwhile, Ramiro Batzín of SOTZIL, main executor of the project Strengthening Indigenous Sustainable Food Production Systems, as measures resilient to climate change in Central America, presented the experience on traditional knowledge, contributions to food security and adaptation to climate change.

Batzín recommended that the approach should: recover, strengthen and position indigenous traditional knowledge as a basis for promoting the development of communities and peoples; likewise, articulating the cultural potential of communities with the threats of climate change and the opportunities for community development. In addition, it should foster through direct support to communities the potential to improve the indigenous economy through the consolidation of agricultural, agroforestry, community industries, artisanal and traditional knowledge clusters.

Mujer lenca partcipando en CPLI

Caption: Image of the Free and Prior Informed Consultation (FPIC) process with leaders of Lenca indigenous communities in Honduras carried out by the AFCIPRA Project.