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The risk of increasing land grabs, deforestation, rights violations and displacement of small farmers to the forest frontier are heightened by the recent adoption of the controversial ZIDRES land and rural development law.

This law risks facilitating the allocation of concessions to commercial interests, privatisation and the enclosure of so-called vacant State lands (baldíos), without adequate protections for the pre-existing customary collective territorial rights of indigenous peoples.

Crucially, the report emphasises that more effective actions to protect and secure territorial rights are needed alongside reforms to ensure genuine respect for free, prior and informed consent (FPIC).

Actions to strengthen self-government of indigenous peoples, apply traditional knowledge and reinforce indigenous agroforestry systems are identified as essential for achieving effective forest and climate policies in the region.

This programme must support our systems of self-government and it must build on our ancestral knowledge and our collective visions for forest management and self-determined development.

In assessing possible future threats, the report highlights that a successful peace process could open up vast areas of the Amazon forest and eastern plains to foreign investment in oil palm, maize, sugar cane and soybean monocultures as well as extractive industries.

Mayra Tenjo, one of the co-authors of the report said: There is a major disconnect between national commitments to uphold indigenous peoples’ rights, combat deforestation and achieve sustainable development in the Amazon on the one hand, and Colombia’s existing National Development Plan (PND) on the other.

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Given these risks, the report concludes that effective interventions to uphold human rights, slow deforestation, maintain biodiversity and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the Colombian Amazon must involve reform of the top-down system for land use zoning, concessions and territorial planning that allocates land and minerals to private commercial interests.Drawing on grassroots interviews, community workshops and a review of official documents, the study assesses historical and contemporary direct and underlying causes of forest destruction and associated human rights impacts in the region.It finds that current deforestation and associated negative impacts on indigenous peoples are most rampant in Caquetá, Guaviare and Putumayo.The two different sets of policies are not coherent.Better cross-sectoral policy coordination and more inclusive, rights-based approaches are needed to respect indigenous peoples and achieve genuine sustainable development…I’m going out on a limb here and saying that this is – quite possible – THE BEST COMMENT this site has ever received.

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