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Understanding one point five

– We are still in the direction of reaching four degrees centigrade. We are headed in the wrong direction!

Last May, I visited the UN's annual "summer summit" on climate change in Bonn, Germany. This was my first personal meeting with the UNFCCC (the United Nations Convention on Climate Change) and as many before me, I was overwhelmed. Not only by the multiple rooms, corridors and various formal and informal meetings taking place at all hours, but by the stories I found on my quest for the origin of the 1.5°C target. Below is one of these interviews.

- Monica Bjermeland, CICERO communications advisor

in this story

 

Lakpa Nuri Sherpa, coordinator of Environment Programme at Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact

People have even had to leave their territory behind, have been forced to move to another place. Climate change is inducing migration.

LAKPA NURI SHERPA

The Paris Agreement is a universal climate agreement; it applies to both the developed and developing countries. A historic achievement for the world! It addresses the huge impacts the world is facing now. Why are indigenous peoples engaged in this process?

As you know, it was in Rio in 1992 that the UN Climate Convention was born. Indigenous peoples became involved in the discussions from the very beginning.

Indigenous peoples’ ways of life are closely related to nature and natural resources, and because of this, small changes in climate have huge impacts on indigenous peoples – as is the case now.

Today, agricultural systems are being heavily affected because of a scarcity of rainfall. Production is going down, and so are knowledges. People have even had to leave their territory behind, have been forced to move to another place. Climate change is inducing migration. On our quest for solutions, we don’t want to be seen as only victims but also as contributors to solutions.

We have something to contribute! Why? Because of the forests we have in our territories. Because of the biodiversity we have in our territories. Luckily, our voices have been listened to by the Parties to the Convention as we are now establishing a Local and Indigenous Peoples Platform within UNFCCC.

This platform is not just about recognition. You also have to implement the groups that have been impacted. In order to solve climate change, we really need to implement indigenous peoples’ rights, give them back their lands for them to manage, give them back their forest resources to manage and stop the ongoing human rights violations – the killings of indigenous peoples.

Unless these things stop, and indigenous peoples’ knowledge are included in the process, there is no real political will to correct these wrongs. The wrongs will not be fixed and there will be knowledge gaps.

There are many challenges ahead. In our region, for example, the private corporate interest is very, very dominant. Not only is the private industry very aggressive in taking out our resources. In some cases, the local government is also complicit in this kind of aggressive development.

All this is driven by the interest of profit, which contradicts the perspective indigenous peoples have. We don’t have that perspective at all. That’s why there is a conflict between us and the private sector – we look at the world and our resources differently and are therefore seen as one of the last barriers to this profit-driven sector.

What is the origin of the 1.5°C limit?

It is time for the world to hand over the ownership of the forests, to hand over the ownership of the land, to indigenous peoples.

LAKPA NURI SHERPA

There was a lot of research and discussions and finally, the scientists came up with a target: If we limit the temperature rise to 1.5°C, we can avoid catastrophic climate change.

Yet, everyone knows, even the Parties to the Climate Convention here in Bonn, that not enough is being done. We do see that there is commitment coming out of the Nationally Determined Contributions, but as analyses show, this is not enough.

We are still in the direction of reaching four degrees centigrade. We are headed in the wrong direction! It is time for the world, for the Parties to the Convention, to hand over the ownership of the forests, to hand over the ownership of the land, to indigenous peoples.

In many parts of the world where you see forests, there is indigenous peoples. Their ownership and their management ability are very, very low. One effective strategy and measure could be to hand over ownership for the collective management of resources. This could help the people of the world to achieve the target we have agreed on, the world we are looking for.

Who are more vulnerable – the forest people of South-America, the Scandinavian Sami, the small island people in the Pacific, the African farmers, or the mountain people of Asia?

Indigenous peoples are more dependent than others on natural resource management for their livelihood. But climate change is affecting everyone, all over the world. People from all parts of the world has a stake in this.