Even a volcanic eruption, an airport closure, and an earthquake couldn’t stop the Global Steering Committee (GSC) meeting for the Dedicated Grant Mechanism for Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities (DGM) taking place in Indonesia from July 25-27.
The $50 million DGM is a one-of-a-kind program designed and led by representatives from indigenous peoples groups and local communities to enhance their capacity to engage in and contribute to REDD+ dialogue and actions. When these groups are empowered to fully engage in REDD+, more constructive dialogue occurs around projects and programs – and chances increase for successful implementation that benefits local interests, and maintains forests as a carbon sink, biodiversity hubs, and source of livelihood.
As Mina Setra, from Aliansi Masyarakat Adat Nusantara (AMAN), one of the largest organizations of Indigenous Peoples in Indonesia, who represents the Kalimantan region of Indonesia on the DGM national steering committee said earlier this year: ““We have never had this kind of program before … we have the ownership of this program. I think this is a good opportunity for Indigenous Peoples to exercise our capacities in managing programs and also funding. That is what is unique about the dedicated grant mechanism.”
The meeting marked the start of the Global component of the DGM – a global learning and exchange project which serves to promote both internal and external outreach and networking, provide linkages between all the DGM country projects, and facilitate knowledge exchange between DGM activities in the Forest Investment Program countries as well as other REDD+ countries. The National component of the DGM has been endorsed for Brazil, Peru, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Burkina Faso.
Facilitated by Conservation International, the DGM Global Executing Agency, the Committee met in Bali to discuss various strategic and operational issues such as the five-year business plan, a draft grievance and redress mechanism, the rules and procedures of the GSC meetings, the annual budget, as well as a communications plan.
The meeting was a significant milestone for the DGM. The GSC members - Indigenous and Local Community members from each of the national DGM projects - deliberated on DGM’s priorities, while representatives from the World Bank, Norway, the CIF AU and others participated as observers at the proceedings. This reverses the usual dynamics in such meeting and really reinforced the role of IPLCs as the key decision-makers. Five of the eight FIP pilot countries were represented by those members of national components which have already been set up: Brazil, Burkina Faso, DRC, Indonesia, Mexico, and Peru.
This meeting was valuable for both collections and connections. Not only were GSC members able to collect even more knowledge and information across a number of crucial areas, they were able to meet face-to-face, creating those connections and relationships which will be crucial for the progress of the DGM.
The meeting also marked a huge turning point in the opportunities for Indigenous Peoples to be able to decide on their own work program. The expansion of the DGM into the new FIP pilot countries will also allow the DGM to scale up both geographically and in terms of program size.
Over the next year, the DGM Global Agency team will be working hard to move from the transitional period of the DGM, to solidify the relationships between members and institutions, and to ensure institutional memory in the workings of the DGM.
In the words of Grace Balawag, of Tebtebba foundation, Global Steering Committee co-chair and Indigenous Peoples’ observer to the CIF’s Strategic Climate Fund (SCF) Trust Fund Committee: "With all the experiences we have seen since the projects were approved, we are now clear on how national DGM programs have maximized Indigenous Peoples' traditional systems to understand what their capacity building and programs needs are. The lessons from the ongoing projects will facilitate the development of the new national components."
The meeting of the GSC highlights the importance of the DGM: it is something which for many years the Indigenous Peoples have been asking for, a system which they can define. In the words of Januário Tseredzaro of the Xavante people in Brazil: “The DGM is one of the programs which can accelerate our sustainable development. The importance of the DGM comes from the fact that we are able to do our part in the fight against climate change – it goes beyond improving our quality of life. It facilitates our path to realize our dream to be able to elaborate a good and sustainable project that allows our world to breathe more easily and can show our country that it is possible to live without deforestation and sustainably, with great results.”