At the very first gathering of the Forest and Communities Initiative, Prince Albert II of Monaco led the charge in calling for an increased presence of indigenous voices in the fight against deforestation, as well as better recognition for native peoples’ knowledge.
Held between 21st and 23rd November in Monaco, the inaugural meeting of the Forests and Communities Initiative attracted participation from more than 100 international experts, scientists and stakeholders, as well as representatives from indigenous and local communities from key forest heartlands across the globe.
The focus of the event was “inclusive forest conservation” and how current approaches to tackling deforestation can be improved by better integrating the indigenous voice.
“The conference emphasised the need for a holistic approach, recognising indigenous knowledge, promoting a rights-based and gender-just framework, aligning environmental laws, and rethinking funding and governance,” said organisers following the event.
Prince Albert opened the conference, with frank comments that addressed the issues at hand head on.
“The situation is getting worse with each year passing, as everyone in this room here knows,” he said. “The forests have been affected. Their surface areas have declined continuously and dramatically over the last few years in many areas of the world.”
The Prince made a strong argument in favour of involving indigenous people in the pushback against unnecessary deforestation, and called for “effective conservation strategies” to be put in place.
“Despite our best efforts and actions, our tools are insufficient to avert the degradation for which were are responsible,” he said. “We have to acknowledge this, and we have to acknowledge that local communities and indigenous peoples have not been part of these strategies.”
Another key part of the conference event was the exclusive screening of the Brazil episode from a new documentary series, Gardiens de la Forêt, at the Grimaldi Forum. Local Amazonia representative Benki Piyãko attended the premiere alongside its producer, Muriel Barra.
The series will hit the Arte network on 9th December, but will be available online from 2nd December. Click here for more information.
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Photo credit: Fondation Prince Albert II de Monaco