Opening Statement by the International Indigenous Peoples Forum on Climate Change


16th Conference of the Parties – United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (29 November to 10 December 2010)

Date of publication: 
29 November 2010

Cancun, Mexico – Indigenous Peoples from all regions of the World held a preparatory meeting November 27 – 28 here in Cancun, and agreed to present the following statement to the opening session of COP 16th. First, we thank the Parties, the Chair and the Secretariat for this opportunity to express our views and concerns. We also express our appreciation to the Indigenous Peoples of this land and all of Mexico for allowing us to be here to participate in these critical discussions, upon which all of our survival depends.

Indigenous Peoples are on the front lines of the impacts of climate change around the world, whether we are from islands and coastal areas, the Arctic, the deserts, urban areas forests or mountain regions. Our traditional foods are diminishing, our waterways and sea ice habitats are disappearing, the rains that sustain us are drying up, and our homelands are falling into the rising seas. The situation is dire and urgent. Indigenous Peoples demand a change in the models of production and consumption that produce climate change, as well as decisive action for real solutions by State Parties at this session.

The threats to our survival and the violations of our internationally- recognized human rights as a result of climate change are increasing on a daily basis. Market-based mitigation strategies such as the Clean Development Mechanism and carbon offsets, including forest offsets and REDD, further threaten our human rights, including our right to free prior and informed consent among many others. Our land and territories, food sovereignty, bio-diversity, cultural practices and traditional life ways are being placed in further jeopardy, and we reject these false solutions.

For all these reasons, a central concern of Indigenous Peoples in all aspects of the work to be carried out at COP 16 is the obligation to ensure that the rights of Indigenous Peoples in all countries are respected, upheld and recognized in all final texts and agreements, consistent with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and other international human rights norms and standards.

We call for the implementation of formal mechanisms and methods of work during COP 16 that will ensure the full and effective participation of Indigenous Peoples, including women, youth and elders. In closing, we call upon you, the Parties to adopt strong and concrete agreements here to produce real solutions that reduce emissions to 300 PPM while also making a firm commitment to protect our human rights. Our survival is in the balance. Our responsibility to our Peoples, our future generations, our Sacred Mother the Earth and to each other as brothers and sisters of the human family, requires and demands immediate and decisive action. Thank you.