For a copy of this release in Spanish, click here.
Washington, D.C.—Peru, Germany, and Norway entered into a partnership today that aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in the Peruvian Amazon, with Norway committing 300 million USD between 2014 and 2020.
In the Letter of Intent, signed today, the Peruvian Government has committed to increasing by five million hectares the land titled to Indigenous peoples and to respect the rights and proposals of Indigenous communities to give or withhold their Free, Prior, and Informed consent in relation to any operations on lands which they hold legal, communal, or customary rights, and ensure those tenure rights are respected.
Increasing land titles for Indigenous communities and addressing weak governance in forested areas is key to protecting the Peruvian Amazon and reducing carbon emissions. The Interethnic Development Association for the Peruvian Amazon (AIDESEP) has called for a minimum of 10 million hectares of land to come under Indigenous titling, underscoring titling as key to forest protection.
The agreement comes soon after four Asháninka Indigenous men were assassinated for their efforts to halt illegal logging in the Amazon and secure recognition and title to their ancestral land for their community, Alto Tamaya – Saweto. More than 58 environmental defenders have been assassinated in Peru since 2002, an indication of the endemic violence and profound governance challenges Peru faces in the forest sector.
“We welcome this new partnership and hope the additional attention and resources will bring about the transformational changes needed to save Peru’s unique Amazon forests,” said Julia Urrunaga, Director of Peru programs for the Environmental Investigation Agency. “Illegal logging continues to plague the Peruvian forest sector, decimating our rich forests, corrupting government institutions and depriving all Peruvians of much needed revenue. The tragic deaths of four Asháninka leaders, who were fighting to end illegal logging, reveal the terrible human consequences of this ongoing illicit trade. We call on all governments in this new partnership to bring an end to the crisis of illegal logging in Peru by holding illegal actors to account and supporting the guardians of the forest by committing to title and uphold Indigenous rights.”
Peru recently passed legislation that rolls back environmental protections in a misguided bid to attract investment. The new law, Law 30230, is a violation of the country’s obligations under the United States-Peru Free Trade Agreement. Among several measures that weaken environmental and social protections, it reduces the number of days required for Environmental Impact Assessments on projects, places a moratorium on full sanctions for companies breaking environmental regulations, and strips the Ministry of Environment of power to establish Reserve Zones. On the heels of Law 30230, Peru announced it will open five million new hectares of forest concessions.
“The concession model in Peru has failed utterly, with systemic fraud and corruption as the rule rather than the exception,” said Urrunaga. “Until the current system is reformed, opening new tracts of lands to concessions for timber extraction will very likely lead to increased laundering of illegally logged timber from unauthorized areas, as well as generate new threats to communities who live in and depend on the forests.”
The Environmental Investigation Agency recommends the agreement between Germany, Norway, and Peru mirrors the commitment made between Norway and Liberia to enact a moratorium on new logging contracts and review existing logging concessions that are operating illegally. In April 2012, the Peruvian government committed to conduct a review of the concession system, which has yet to be carried out.
The Environmental Investigation Agency encourages Peru to adhere to existing international environmental commitments as it builds a new partnership with Germany and Norway.
Maggie Dewane, Press Officer, EIA, 202-483-6621, [email protected]