Indigenous Participation is Critical for Climate Change Success

A Kayapó man in Brazil.

When it comes to climate mitigation strategies like REDD+, recognition of the rights of indigenous peoples and sustainable traditional practices will be essential to empower these communities to protect their forests and curb climate change.

This year indigenous peoples organizations have increased their participation in the international climate change dialogue. The International Indigenous Forum on Climate Change (IIFCC) has evolved in order to increase their ability to engage in the complicated negotiation process, adding new members to their delegation at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) conference in Cancun.

Additionally, this year, the Abya Yala Indigenous Forum on Climate Change was created in Latin America by the region’s main indigenous organizations to unify their positions on climate change and prepare for participation in the international negotiations. Along with other environmental organizations, CI is supporting the Forum’s organizations in their proposals and active participation in the U.N. negotiations in Cancun.

In general, members of the IIFCC are concerned about potential consequences of the development of a carbon market in relation to their lands, territories and resources. The carbon market is seen as a possible new form of appropriation of their traditional spaces, and although some believe REDD+ can bring opportunities to forest communities, they want to make sure appropriate safeguards protecting their rights are in place.

Representatives from the IIFCC are working with their governments to ensure that rights are respected in the creation of policy and in any pilot efforts that might inform the policy process. In relation to the international laws being negotiated at the UNFCCC meeting in Cancun — specifically the paragraphs that describe how REDD+ will be implemented — the IIFCC has insisted that they not only want government to “take note” but to recognize the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as the minimum standard of their rights within the final agreement.

One specific right the IIFCC wants to incorporate into the final UNFCCC outcomes in Cancun is that of “free, prior and informed consent.” This concept includes recognition that indigenous peoples have inherent rights to their lands and resources, which should be respected by third parties, and any actions or decisions on local forest governance should be based on the principle of informed consent. The recognition and strengthening of traditional practices and the commitment of indigenous peoples are critical to continue protecting forests and biodiversity in the long term.

Indigenous peoples have been voicing their ideas and concerns about climate change and the policies the world is working on to address them. The IIFCC has been growing and strengthening along with other indigenous peoples organizations. In order to have a strong solution to climate change, indigenous peoples’ voices must continue to be heard.

Johnson Cerda is the indigenous advisor for CI’s Indigenous and Traditional Peoples Program.


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  2. George Amoah says

    Dear Sir/Madam
    We are a legally registered Ngo based in Ghana,and have its headquarters in Cape Coast,our charity in one the grounds and want to make an inquiring about how we can collaborate with credible International Organizations working on conservation across the world.we are already in the process of working with Kab’s Enterprises of Canada and will still like to expand our collaborative efforts.
    Thank you and wish to hear from you soon.
    George Amoah,CEO,GNCI,NGO
    Ghana West Africa,Cape Coast.

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