Global Indigenous Input about Climate Change

It is vital that our voices are heard and our rights and ways of lives are protected as we confront the causes and impacts of climate change in our homelands and globally, at COP 21 and beyond.

If You’re Not at the Table, You’re On the Menu – Faithkeeper Oren Lyons

Current Status and Next Steps

COP 21It’s been the two hottest years in history, due to global warming that especially affects vulnerable populations. And yet just weeks before this decade’s biggest climate change conference, known as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC), indigenous populations are still struggling to gain a place at the meeting table.

Much is at stake this year in Paris in November and December: Countries are aiming “to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to limit the global temperature increase to two degrees above pre-industrial levels.” However, recent studies show that climate change is moving much faster than anticipated, requring a more ambitious reduction to 1.5 level rather than two; in fact, the two degree level will not protect indigenous people(s) from losing their livelihoods, land, and heritage, according to the Structured Expert Dialogue report.

Here’s where grass-roots voices step in to refocus world decision makers. Recognizing that people (not politicians) lead movements, the “1.5 to Stay Alive” campaign highlights native examples about devastation in the Caribbean rather than scripted pleadings by celebrity activists.

Here’s a brief timeline of UN meetings about climate change policies and practice:

This year, 2015, everything moved fast to prepare for COP 21

COP 21 Graphic

  • Feb. 2015 -ADP Geneva, Switzerland: An extensive (86 single-spaced pages) Geneva Negotiating Text is a kitchen sink of desires; for the Indigenous Caucus, this was a chance to lobby that climate change related actions would “…respect, protect, and fulfill human rights for all, including the rights of indigenous peoples…”
  • Aug./Sept. 2015 – ADP Bonne, Germany: A negotiating session to trim down the Geneva text promises line-by-line negotiation. This is the last time for lobbying before the COP 21 in Paris and the public is still clamoring for legally binding agreements that recognize the severity of climate change.
  • Oct. 2015 – Bonne, Germany: Green and development groups are shut out of the process, including Indigenous representatives, and it is announced that Green Climate Fund resources will not be awarded to indigenous peoples in ‘developed countries’.  In response, Norway and others proposed an international fund for indigenous peoples and the International Indian Treaty Organization is among those lobbying to reverse this ruling since it would exclude many vulnerable populations.
  • Oct. 2015 – Everywhere: The International Indigenous People Forum on Climate Change organize a global effort to get input, including best practices and native reactions to COP 21 for the strongest possible voice.
  • Nov. – Dec. 2015 – COP 21, Paris, France: The first time in over 20 years of United Nations negotiations that binding, universal agreements could produce international mandates to keep global warming below two degrees.

 

COP 21 and beyond

“It is vital that our voices are heard and our rights and ways of lives are protected as we confront the causes and impacts of climate change in our homelands and globally, at COP 21 and beyond.” — Roberto Borrero, North America GSC Focal Point, United Confederation of Taino People, IITC Board Member

For breaking news, follow at #cop21

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