Monday 30 october 2023
In the Peruvian region Madre de Dios, illegal mining threatens the livelihoods of people and biodiversity. Defending this land comes with many risks. The project PIDDA: Inclusive protection of environmental defenders of SPDA and IUCN NL, with support of AFD, will provide solutions based on information never before considered for the design of Peruvian public policies, to strengthen the protection of environmental defenders.
Header photo: Giancarlo Shibayama/SPDA
The Global Witness 2022 report confirmed that Peru is in the top ten of the most dangerous countries in the world for environmental defendersGlobal Witness. (2023). Standing firm: The Land and Environmental Defenders on the frontlines of the climate crisis.. Since April 2020, 17 environmental defenders have been killed. The situation is worse in regions with significant natural resources, such as Madre de Dios.
Madre de Dios: a wealth of natural resources
Two of these murders on Peruvian defenders took place in the region Madre de Dios. Located in southeastern Peru, this region occupies 11% of the Peruvian Amazon. Until the 1990s it was the best preserved region. It is still one of the most biodiverse regions in the world, with more than 3.8 million hectares of protected natural areas where eight groups of Indigenous people live. But this region is also the cradle of illegal mining and related illegal activities. Conflicts have increased and today its biodiversity and environmental defenders are seriously threatened.
Liliana Jaúregui, Senior Environmental Justice Expert at IUCN NL
‘Improving the conditions of environmental defenders In the Amazon involves an in-depth knowledge of the different impacts that environmentally harmful activities have on the life and rights of women, Indigenous people and youth.’
PIDDA: strengthening environmental defenders
It is in this context that IUCN NL and the Sociedad Peruana de Derecho Ambiental (SPDA), with the support of the French Development Agency (AFD), implement Inclusive protection of environmental defenders in the Amazon (PIDDA for its Spanish acronym), a project that aims to contribute to the strengthening and application of the protection system for environmental rights defenders in Peru, with an intercultural and gender approach. Federación Nativa de Madre de Dios y Sus Afluentes (Fenamad), a local federation, and the management of the Tambopata National Reserve are key allies in achieving this objective.
Liliana Jaúregui, Senior Environmental Justice Expert at IUCN NL: ‘Improving the conditions of environmental defenders in the Amazon involves an in-depth knowledge of the different impacts that environmentally harmful activities have on the life and rights of women, Indigenous people and youth. These groups should participate in the design of public policies, guaranteeing the full exercise of their rights.’
Gender and intercultural approach
The project aims to strengthen the Peruvian protection system by analysing the situation of environmental defenders and their access to rights – specifically women, communicators and youth; institutional strengthening of the two main environmental defenders organisations in Madre de Dios; and national and international advocacy. At the end of the project, we will have developed a roadmap that supports Peruvian institutions to improve their policy applying a gender and intercultural perspective.
Among the main results will be the design of normative proposals from civil society and Indigenous organisations, based studies with a gender and intercultural approach. In this way, for the first time, the detailed complexity of the problems and threats faced by women environmental defenders will be known, and regulatory proposals will be designed to respond to their specific characteristics. In addition, women defenders in Madre de Dios will receive training to strengthen their capacities to protect themselves from the threats they face.
Silvana Baldovino, director Biodiversity and Indigenous Peoples Programme at SPDA
‘We must recognise and demonstrate that these women face strong and ongoing challenges in carrying out their work of promoting and defending human rights, including gender discrimination, and it is in this context that specific protection measures must be adopted to their needs.’
Constant challenges for women environmental defenders
For Silvana Baldovino, director of SPDA’s Biodiversity and Indigenous Peoples Programme, it is essential that there is a gender-differentiated approach when it comes to women human rights defenders. ‘We must recognise and demonstrate that these women face strong and ongoing challenges in carrying out their work of promoting and defending human rights, including gender discrimination, and it is in this context that specific protection measures must be adopted to their needs. Through PIDDA, we generate the necessary space to promote knowledge and internalisation of their rights and options to make these rights effective. In this way, we seek to contribute to progressively reducing the gap, to strengthen women defenders’ capacities and to generate conditions for their defence.’
Clément Larrue, director of AFD in Peru: ‘By working towards resolving socio-environmental conflicts with all actors, the project will contribute to the fight for both social justice and ecological sustainability: two of AFD’s highest priorities in the country. Moreover, actions to strengthen the mechanisms for the protection of environmental rights will also allow for an improved consideration of biodiversity conservation issues in public policy. This project promotes an innovative intersectional approach to the governance of environmental issues, which hopefully will lead to national and/or regional initiatives with a greater reach.’
About the project partners
SPDA (Sociedad Peruana de Derecho Ambiental) has 36 years of experience in strengthening the legal framework and public policies related to the protection and defence of the environment in Peru. Since 2018, it has been working hand in hand with the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights and two other Peruvian state agencies for the creation and strengthening of the DDA protection system. With a very strong team of lawyers, the organisation conducts research on public policy and environmental legislation and works to strengthen the capacities of the public sector, civil society, vulnerable people and Indigenous populations in close dialogue and collaboration with state agencies.
IUCN NL is the National Committee of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the world’s largest nature conservation union, in the Netherlands. The aim of IUCN NL is to safeguard nature as the basis of all life on earth. IUCN NL has more than 30 years of experience in the Latin American region, in particular in working with environmental rights defenders in Peru and internationally, and more than 40 years of experience in international cooperation, working with governments, multilateral organisations, civil society organisations and Indigenous peoples.
The French Development Agency (AFD) implements France’s development and international solidarity policy. Together with its partners, the AFD develops shared solutions benefiting populations in emerging and low-income countries. Its teams work on more than 4,000 local projects in 115 countries, as well as areas in crisis, for the benefit of common goods such as climate, biodiversity, peace, gender equality, education and health. In this way, they contribute to the commitment of France and the French people to the Sustainable Development Goals.
|Global Witness. (2023). Standing firm: The Land and Environmental Defenders on the frontlines of the climate crisis.