In Glasgow, indigenous peoples fight the table for their rights
– “For my people, the effects of climate change are a daily reality. The rainy season is shorter and when it rains there is flooding. And we suffered from the drought, ”said Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, a member of the Wodaabe or Mbororo pastoral people of Chad.
For the founder of the Non-Governmental Association of Women and Indigenous Peoples of Chad, a perverse effect is the violence generated, because “when resources are lost, people fight for them – for water, for example,” said she told IPS after a forum. on progress made by indigenous groups at the climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland.
Indigenous peoples around the world face the ambiguity of protecting ecosystems, such as forests or coastal areas, while undergoing the onslaught of climate fury unleashed by humanity’s dependence on fossil fuels. , such as droughts, destructive storms and rising sea levels.
For decades, indigenous peoples have insisted that their traditional knowledge can help fight climate change. The emergence of the covid-19 pandemic in 2020 has reaffirmed the results of treating nature as just another commodity.
Although over the past decade, indigenous representatives have gained a place at environmental summits, such as the 26th Conference of the Parties (COP26) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which began Sunday October 31 in this city. in the UK they now want to be more than just token participants.
“We hope that the summit will take into account indigenous communities. We need funds that go directly to indigenous peoples, ”Graciela Coy, an indigenous woman from Ak’Tenamit (our people, in the Q’eqchi ‘language), a non-governmental organization that works in the north of the country, told IPS. Guatemala.
Representatives of indigenous organizations won a place in every part of the COP. They participate as observers in the official sessions where the agreements are discussed, in the parallel summit of social movements and in all the other forums organized during the two weeks of the climate conference.
One of the expectations of indigenous peoples this year is the approval of the three-year work plan of the Platform of Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples that emerged at COP21, which approved the Paris Agreement in 2015.
The proposal must be approved by the Facilitation Working Group, made up of seven indigenous representatives and seven governments and approved at the COP24, held in the Polish city of Katowice in 2018. It must then be ratified by the plenary of the 196 Parties to the COP and is to include capacity building activities for indigenous groups, mapping of actions for their participation in the UNFCCC and their funding.
Between 2019 and 2021, the group carried out 11 activities, without physical sessions due to the pandemic.
Climate policies are at the center of COP26, which ends on November 12, after being postponed for a year due to the covid-19 pandemic.
Government delegates to COP26 discuss carbon market rules, climate finance of at least $ 100 billion per year, the gaps between emission reduction targets and the necessary reductions, carbon neutrality strategies here 2050, adaptation plans and work program for local communities and indigenous peoples Platform.
Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, an indigenous activist from the Kankana-ey Igorot people of the Philippines, said the inclusion of human rights in financing emissions reductions and adaptation to the effects of the climate crisis, as well as in creating carbon markets. , is fundamental.
“Indigenous peoples are also suffering from climate solutions, such as renewable energy projects. There must be effective safeguards that enable the protection of the rights of indigenous peoples ”in climate policies, the former United Nations special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples told IPS between 2014 and 2020.
This respect has become urgent in areas like the Amazon, the main jungle of Latin America shared by eight countries and a French territory, whose indigenous inhabitants have suffered the degradation caused by the incursions of agro-industrial companies, livestock. , soybeans, hydrocarbons and mining. , as well as the construction of dams, railways, highways and river ports.
For this reason, Tuntiak Katan, member of the indigenous Shuar people of Ecuador and general coordinator of the Global Alliance of Territorial Communities (GATC), told IPS that the removal of extractive activities from this ecosystem is a fundamental condition for progress in protection. of the climate.
“Indigenous peoples already protect 950 million hectares of land around the world. What we are asking for is the protection of 80% of the Amazon by 2025. We are the voice of women, children and the elderly ”who suffer the impacts on the territories, said Katan, vice-president. coordinator of the non-governmental coordinating body. indigenous organizations from the Amazon River Basin (Coica).
The most recent scientific evidence shows that indigenous peoples are the most effective protectors of tropical forests, which is why increased efforts are needed for their conservation in the face of increasing threats.
More than empty promises
Faced with abundant offers made during the first week of COP26 activities to promote indigenous land tenure and reforestation, indigenous peoples were skeptical and demanded direct participation in these programs.
Oumarou Ibrahim and Coy agreed on the need to define mechanisms to ensure that the resources provided reach the territories directly.
World leaders “must be our partners. Funding must be adapted to the needs of the population. The question is how the resources will reach indigenous peoples directly, ”said Oumarou Ibrahim.
According to Coy, the fight against climate change requires the allocation of funds, which should be transferred “to the indigenous peoples, because there is a lot of international aid” which does not always materialize in the local communities.
Accepting what indigenous peoples have been asking for for years, the governments of Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, the United Kingdom, the United States and 17 private donors announced on November 1 the granting of 1 , $ 7 billion to help indigenous and local communities preserve rainforests between 2021 and 2025.
It is estimated that each year only $ 270 million is allocated to forest maintenance and only $ 46 million goes to the direct guardians of the forest: their ancestral inhabitants.
Multilateral financing directly to indigenous peoples has been a recurring obstacle to efforts to protect natural resources.
For example, the Green Climate Fund (GCF), created at COP16 in Cancun in 2010, funded 121 community livelihood projects and delivered a total of $ 1.4 billion.
For a total of 190 projects, it has disbursed two billion dollars and another six billion are in preparation. In addition, he committed an additional 10 billion for projects. It has also registered 113 institutions to receive funds, but none of them are indigenous.
In addition, on November 2, more than 105 countries signed the “Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forests and Land Use”, which sets the goal of zero deforestation by 2030.
Indigenous peoples are also asking to be included in Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), voluntary commitments adopted by each country for 2030 and 2050 in order to comply with the Paris Agreement and on which the goal of containing global warming climate at 1.5 degrees Celsius is based.
“We just need a boost,” Katan said. “We are confident in what we are doing and that is why it is good that they are offering funding. But what needs to be done is to abandon extractivism and take the oil, mining and agribusiness companies out of our territories, and apply a holistic vision, combined with the vision of indigenous peoples.
Even if COP26 does not produce the results that indigenous peoples want, they will continue to care about natural resources and demand climate justice.
IPS produced this article with the support of Iniciativa Climática in Mexico and the European Climate Foundation.