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A message for Copenhagen

 

Indigenous people consider themselves stewards of the land and environment.

Clean Development Mechanisms are worth $6.5 billion annually to developing countries and overall, the Kyoto Carbon Trading scheme is an annual $33 billion business. Although Canada and the United States are not considered developing countries, the Indian reserves and tribal territories are often called “fourth world” countries.

It is implied in that term that American Indians and Canada’s First Nations live in conditions like that of developing countries. The U.N. Summit in Copenhagen this December should extend the same full rights and privileges of CDMs, which are available to developing countries to indigenous groups, especially those in North America.

Indigenous people consider themselves to be stewards of the land and environment. There are large land holdings with untapped resources in indigenous territories, including Aboriginal Title lands and Indian reserves, which should be added to the CDM process. North American indigenous peoples often suffer from lack of housing, poor education, decreased access to resource development, etc. and the effect of that is that North America’s aboriginal peoples share a common feature which is very similar to those peoples living in developing countries.

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While there are indigenous groups opposed to CDMs and other emission reducing schemes, it should be made clear that such projects on designated indigenous land zones need to partner with indigenous groups in order to obtain their free, prior, informed consent, which is part of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Indigenous peoples need to be on the benefiting end of sustainable development projects supported through CDMs or other similar carbon trading mechanisms.

Indigenous peoples need to be on the benefiting end of sustainable development projects supported through CDMs or other similar carbon trading mechanisms. There are concerns that indigenous peoples’ way of life could be affected by the so-called REDD (Reduced Emissions through Deforestation and Forest Degradation) scheme. However, it should be considered an indigenous right worldwide to be able to continue practice long standing methods of agriculture including shifting agriculture and other traditional methods of food processing on areas designated as tribal lands, much like Canada’s entrenched Aboriginal Rights in the 1982 Canadian Constitution, which states, “The existing aboriginal and treaty rights of the aboriginal peoples of Canada are hereby recognized and affirmed.”

While the talks are set to get underway in Copenhagen, this is the message that one indigenous person would like to send to climate change negotiators.

– Troy Hunter

Ktunaxa First Nation

Merritt, British Columbia