Indigenous peoples are supposed to be at the center of all climate change debates. This is because they have lived with and protected nature for generations and are now the worst affected by climate change effects like floods, typhoons, drought and violent thunderstorms. They have least contributed to this global disaster. The full and effective participation of indigenous peoples, local communities and vulnerable groups is therefore the key to achieve a just and equitable outcome of the climate negotiations.
We hold inalienable collective rights over our lands, territories and resources. That is why we have maintained equilibrium between us and nature for centuries and are not responsible for climate change. Policies and actions that are being negotiated now, like REDD, directly affect our ancestral lands, territories, oceans, waters, ice, flora, fauna and forests thereby affecting the survival and livelihoods of more than 370 million indigenous peoples all over the world.
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Our concerns and views have not been seriously addressed in the climate negotiation processes, least of all those from indigenous women and youth. We reiterate the states’ and whole UN system’s obligations to uphold regional and international human rights commitments and standards, especially the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Our indigenous local strategies and priorities must be reflected in national adaptation and mitigation action and national adaptation plans and strategies of action, in the development and implementation of which we must participate fully and effectively. The distinct roles and responsibilities of indigenous women and youth will need to be considered; underlining the importance of their inclusion in decision making and planning processes.
Our rights to self-determination and free, prior and informed consent are the minimum standards to safeguard our rights. We have intrinsic contributions towards addressing the climate crisis, and renewing the relationships between humans and nature. For generations, we have managed ecosystems nurturing its integrity and complexity in sustainable and culturally diverse ways. Our customary resource management systems have proven to be ecologically sustainable, low carbon economies.
The climate crisis threatens our very survival, particularly forest-dependent, ice-dependent peoples, peoples in voluntary isolation, and the indigenous peoples of small island states and local communities. Addressing such vulnerabilities requires recognition, respect and strengthening of the traditional knowledge of indigenous peoples, and strengthening the resilience of ecosystems and indigenous peoples and local communities’ capacities to adapt to climate change.
Ecosystem-based adaptation centered on holistic indigenous peoples’ systems and rights can deliver significant social, cultural, spiritual and economic values to indigenous peoples and local communities as well as to the biodiversity of indigenous lands and territories. This should be considered with the full participation of indigenous peoples in the planning, design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of these measures. The empowerment of indigenous peoples and local communities is critical to successful adaptation strategies to climate change.
The recognition of our rights must be in accordance with international human rights law and standards including the UNDRIP and ILO Convention 169, among other human rights instruments. If there is not full recognition and full protection for indigenous peoples’ rights, including the rights to resources, lands and territories, and there is no recognition and respect of our rights of free, prior and informed consent of the affected indigenous peoples, we will oppose REDD and REDD+ and carbon offsetting projects, including CDM projects.
We affirm our global unity and solidarity to realize the enjoyment of our collective rights and the recognition of our vision, indigenous knowledge and our contributions in solving the climate change crisis.
International Indigenous Peoples Forum on Climate Change (IIPFC)