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.