Local voice, global forest, local forest, global voice

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17 January 2011

Who had heard of G3 eighteen months ago? Nobody, because it didn’t exist.
Yet an alliance known as The Three Rights Holders Group (G3) has had a strong presence at COP 16 in Cancun, manning an information booth and participating in various panels.

The group’s message was a simple one, advocating for sustainable forest management and locally controlled forestry as a vital component in any realistic strategy going forward to address climate change mitigation and adaptation.

So who is this group and where has it come from?

Global forest: How better to answer this than by going back to its origins eighteen months back? At this time, Growing Forests Partnerships, GFP, an initiative that helps develop and support networks of forest dependent people and organisations at local, national and international levels with the aim of working for the equitable and sustainable management of forestry resources, had organized, in collaboration with The Forests Dialogue, a string of dialogues on investing in locally controlled forests.

Local voice: In its effort to capture the diversity of the voices of forest dependent people GFP had therefore invited various local community groups representing indigenous peoples, tribal peoples, minorities and forest dwellers to this series of dialogues. Among them were The Global Alliance of Community Forestry, GACF, The International Alliance of Tribal and Indigenous Peoples of the Tropical Forest, IAITPTF, and the International Alliance of Family Forestry, IFFA. As a result of relationships developed through these dialogues, these three groups came to the realisation that they had the similar agendas and could work together to focus their objectives.

Local forest: One of the biggest problems entailed in promoting locally controlled forestry is that of fragmentation – no one voice is strong enough or clear enough to be heard at a global/international level and reaching out. This is exactly where GFP comes in. GFP aims to provide platforms to link the global to the local and ensure local needs are reflected in national policies and that the causes of local people are made known and influence decision making at national and international fora. GFP is funded by the World Bank, and currently involves the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and a series of local partners in Ghana, Guatemala, Liberia, Mozambique and Nepal. Spearheaded by its work in mainstreaming the process of partnership building , GFP was able to support the GACF, the IAITPTF and the GACF in their desire to come together.

Global voice: G3 have had to work hard to strengthen links between the founder groups and to hammer out an agenda to ensure that the G3 has a common mission and agreed objectives, messages and action plans. As I said at the beginning G3 had strong representation at Cancun but this was not the first time that the group has acted as a single unit. The G3 has been pushing the locally controlled forestry agenda at a large number of global forestry and climate change events – examples include the PEFC stakeholder dialogue in Brazil, COFO in Rome, the UN biodiversity summit in Nagoya. With 2011 being the International Year of Forests, this alliance will only take on further importance as time goes by and its potential to use its excellent local networks to reflect local realities at international fora is enormous. By doing so, building one voice and concentrating efforts as part of the G3 alliance, diverse local needs can now be heard as one.

I believe the G3 statement in Cancun on the role of forest-dependent people in mitigating climate change, is proof that the group is now finding its voice and can gain confidence in itself moving forward to speak and be heard: Local voice, global forest, local forest, global voice.