Indigenous land rights take center stage in Lima

14 December 2014

LIMA, Peru—As a boy, Cándido Mezúa Salazar listened to Emberá elders tell stories that explained why the water in the river is cooler at some hours of the day than others, how to fish by day and by night, how to survive in the heat and the cold.

“These are things we learn from the landscape,” said Mezúa, who heads the National Coordinating Committee of Indigenous People of Panama, the representative body of the country’s seven indigenous territories. “We are part of the forest; you are part of the forest. Our Mother Earth is suffering, and the message you must take away is that everyone is responsible.”

His words during the opening plenary session on the second day of the 2014 Global Landscapes Forum in Lima, underscored the significant role of indigenous peoples in safeguarding forested landscapes and the importance of them having stronger tenure rights to their land.

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