Enable the role of local land users in territorial and ecosystem management, recognising that sustainable development and the stewardship of ecosystems are best achieved through participatory decision making and management at the territorial level, empowering local land users and their communities with the authority, means, and incentives to carry out this responsibility.
The Latin American Semiarid Platform (Plataforma Semiáridos América Latina) is a multi-country initiative established to address the problems faced by indigenous and rural communities in the semi-arid regions of Latin America in relation to access and management of land, water, and other natural resources.
“The original seed for the initiative came in 2013 from a knowledge exchange between organisations in Brazil and in the Chaco region, during which the similarities between the two areas were recognised,” explained Gabriel Seghezzo of FUNDAPAZ, an ILC member organisation that supports the Plataforma Semiáridos. “We began to see that the situation shared by these regions was not only a similar climate, but they also had similar cultures, biodiversity, and issues related to water access, and also were populated by very marginalised peoples. We realised that with these commonalities also came common solutions to our shared problems.”
In Asia, a Commitment-Based Initiative (CBI) on Locally Managed Ecosystems was launched in 2017 to strengthen tenure security and the capacities of communities to effectively manage environmentally sensitive ecosystems by documenting, replicating, and advocating for people-centred land policies and programmes. In 2018 the initiative, led by the Rural Development Fund (RDF) and Xavier Science Foundation (XSF), documented the diverse experiences of ILC members in the region; their findings will be presented at the 2018 Global Land Forum.
Spotlight on ILC Members: The Semiáridos Initiative in Latin America and the Caribbean
The platform focuses on three main regions: Tri-national Chaco, covering parts of Argentina, Bolivia, and Paraguay; the Northeast region of Brazil; and the Dry Corridor of Central America, covering Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and El Salvador. There are other smaller semi-arid regions such as in Venezuela, where work connected to the Platforma Semiáridos is also ongoing.
The platform now has 26 members from 10 countries, covering 160 million hectares of land and 53 million people who live there. The founding document signed by its members states that: “Land development and management should be supported by intercultural dialogue; participatory construction of public policies; the environmental, economic, and social potential of the region and not its limitations; equitable access to land and water; and acknowledgement of the significant role of civil society organisations [CSOs] – particularly those of Indigenous Peoples, peasants, women, and youth – and their interaction with the State.”
Seghezzo explained further: “Latin America’s semi-arid areas are home to the region’s greatest population of indigenous farming communities, who also face the greatest challenges with access to water and the highest levels of poverty.” Through social mobilisation, Plataforma Semiáridos hopes to influence public policy changes that should allow access, use, and management of land, territories, water, and other resources. The goals of the platform are that Indigenous Peoples and peasant communities receive recognition of their rights to tenure within each country’s constitutional framework and have enough quality water to guarantee production, along with social and environmental sustainability and sustainable production with suitable technologies that meet the conditions required for effective occupancy of the land.
According to Seghezzo: “There are many CSOs representing indigenous and peasant communities in the semi-arid regions, with decades of experience and knowledge. There is great social capital here which now can be brought together through the Semiáridos platform to share knowledge and practices that are useful for both national- and regional-level political action.” Through knowledge sharing and mutual capacity-building exchanges between member organisations, the Plataforma Semiáridos has developed and shared a set of best practices and is developing round-table space for dialogue between states and civil society to address the issues faced by inhabitants of the semi-arid regions.
Learn more at: http://www.semiaridos.org