For eleven years, dreams, knowledge and commitments have added up to consolidate the Community REDD+ Portfolio in the Biogeographic Chocó.
A portfolio that thrills us from Acandí to Tumaco has been possible thanks to the commitment and work of the Mutatá Indigenous Council and the 19 Community Councils that are part of the 9 REDD+ projects: Bajo Mira y Frontera, ACAPA, Cajambre, Bajo Calima, La Plata-Bahía Málaga, Concosta, Sivirú, Usaragá, Pizarro, Piliza, ACABA, Río Pepé, Montaño, Vigía de Curvaradó-Santa Rosa del Limón, Domingodó, Apartadó- Buena Vista, Chicao, La Madre and Cocomasur.
During this journey, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) set a learning path that served as a compass for guiding the strengthening process with communities. Their committed work and the resources invested were crucial in shaping the Community REDD+ Portfolio into what it is now. Its management and accompaniment with Fondo Acción continued until 2018 through the Connected Landscapes program, leaving significant advances that paved the way for great achievements and results.
Fondo Acción joined efforts, abilities and resources to boost the project’s objectives, strengthening communication and trust with each of the participating communities, understanding the dynamics of their territories to generate real actions aligned with their contexts, culture and traditions.
In 2019, the Sustainable Colombia Fund and its donors, as well as the Inter-American Development Bank, joined this journey of commitments, learning and challenges, with the conviction that working with the communities of the Pacific could build viable territories.
Each of these actors has played an important role in this story with the goal of extending it in time and promoting it as a sustainable option for the families of the Colombian Pacific.
Here we narrate what the process has been like and the present the most important facts. We invite you to learn more about this story by clicking on the following sections:
The REDD+ journey
How was it possible to develop nine REDD+ projects in the Biogeographic Chocó, you may wonder? Providing an answer requires us to stop, look back and retrace eleven years’ worth of steps that have amounted to dreams, efforts, knowledge and commitments.
The journey takes us back to the Acandí municipality, located in the northernmost part of Chocó Department, home to tree species such as choibá, wamillo, cagüi, and endangered animals such as the white-headed marmoset. There, a community assembles under the Black Communities of the Tolo River Basin and Southern Coastal Region’s Community Council, better known as Cocomasur.
Council members raised the question of how to preserve the territory, and in a search for concrete options for safeguarding their land and managing to remain in it, a company named Anthrotect reached out to Cocomasur and submitted a proposal to develop a REDD+ project. In 2009, they came to an agreement and launched Colombia’s first REDD+ project.
«The goal is for Cocomasur members to have detailed knowledge about the state of their territory. Knowing the land doesn’t just mean walking through it, it implies understanding the importance of every one of the places explored.”
Aureliano Córdoba, Cocomasur Community Council
In 2011, USAID was focusing its efforts on the Colombian Pacific region through its BioRedd+ program, which aimed to turn biodiversity conservation into a sustainable activity by developing REDD+ projects tied to the voluntary carbon market model.
Voluntary carbon market? What does this mean? Communities work, plan collective activities and receive training in carrying out initiatives that reduce greenhouse gas emissions caused by deforestation. An auditor then verifies that emissions have been in fact reduced, and this generates carbon credits that can later be purchased by individuals or companies who seek to mitigate their carbon footprint. This is called a voluntary carbon market.
In this journey through rivers and forests, Fondo Acción comes in to support Cocomasur and strengthen its financial, administrative and governance competencies. Like a well-tended tree that bears fruit, in 2012 this REDD+ project became the first in Colombia to generate verified carbon credits. Cocomasur thus became the first community to develop a successful REDD+ project in its territory, and Anthrotect and Fondo Acción, the first developer entities in the country to do so.
In the meantime, by 2013, BioRedd+ had brought together twenty ethnic communities to move forward with the design of REDD+ projects in their territories. The intention was promising, but the reality of implementation was complex. BioRedd+ realized that reaching these distant geographies, a reflection of an exceptional but at times inaccessible Colombia, required an implementing entity that understood the challenges that came with traveling the country, engaging in dialogue, and in recognizing local knowledge as the starting point for building something great. Consequently, and with the aim of joining efforts to continue the work that was already underway, BioRedd+ decided to recruit Fondo Acción to work with the communities of the REDD+ projects.