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REDD and Alternative Conflict Resolution for ‘Colonos’ of Panama’s Darien Region


The Darién region in eastern Panama is part of the Tumbes-Chocó-Magdalena biodiversity “hotspot”. With almost 65% forest cover, it is considered a priority area for the implementation of the mechanism known as REDD, Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation. REDD is a proposed climate change mitigation strategy that will finance forest conservation, sustainable forest management and carbon stock enhancement, thus partly avoiding carbon emissions caused by land use and land use changes. Key actors in REDD discussions at a national level, as well as within the context of the Darién, include the government, indigenous peoples, and “colonos”. This latter group is comprised of individuals and groups who have migrated to the Darién to establish activities such as farming, cattle ranching, logging, and other land uses that can result in the clearing or degradation of forests.
Recognizing that these three groups have different interests, expectations, and needs, some of them contrary to the objectives of REDD, it is anticipated that conflicts will arise. In an attempt to create spaces for functional and constructive dialogues in regards to the prospects of REDD implementation in Panama, and more specifically in the Darién, ELTI has partnered with McGill University, Centro de Conocimiento para la Resolución de Conflictos en las Américas y el Caribe (CERCA), the Supreme Court of Justice of Panama, and the Development Program for the Darien of Panama’s Ministry of the Presidency, to hold a workshop on REDD and alternative conflict resolution methods for “colonos” and governmental agencies or NGOs that works them in the Darien. The workshop was attended by 30 participants. A similar workshop had been already held with national-level governmental agencies and indigenous leaders, and had aimed at ensuring that all develop a better understanding of REDD and can apply the conflict resolution methods once they meet to discuss REDD application in Panama and the Darién.