Ensure the full recognition of indigenous peoples' rights in a Cancun climate decision


Joint Indigenous Press Statement

Date of publication: 
8 December 2010

Cancun, Mexico)– The Indigenous Peoples’ Network on Climate Change and Sustainable Development (IPCSSD) welcomes the document (FCCC/AWGLCA/2010/CRP.3) which was released today. We welcome the inclusion of paragraphs 7 and 8 which recognize the need for effective participation of indigenous peoples and fully respect human rights in all climate change related actions. We firmly believe that it is an imperative to adopt the human-rights based approach and ecosystem-based approach to climate change mitigation and adaptation.

We are also encouraged that the texts on REDD (Section C; Paragraphs 65-75 and Annex 11) still retained language on safeguards which:

• recognizes indigenous peoples’ rights and knowledge and notes the adoption of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP);
• affirms the need for full and effective participation of stakeholders, in particular indigenous peoples and local communities;
• stresses that actions are consistent with the conservation of natural forests and biological diversity;
• calls for transparent and effective national forest governance structures.

The REDD Plus text also recognizes the need to address the drivers of deforestation drivers of deforestation, land tenure issues and forest governance issues.

We reiterate that it is important to include clear mechanisms for monitoring and reporting how Parties are complying with the safeguards. We propose that a new sub-paragraph d of para 68 be inserted which says “ A system for monitoring and informing on how the safeguards are being addressed and respected throughout the implementation of activities referred to in Para 67.”

We support the introductory paragraph of Section C that adequate, sustainable and predictable funding for REDD Plus from Developed Countries should be made available. But we want to ensure that funding should not just go to States but also, directly, to indigenous peoples and local communities.

On adaptation, we are against the moves of some Parties to differentiate which of them are most vulnerable to climate change and therefore should receive the greatest part of Adaptation Funds. More focus should be put on vulnerabilities of peoples. Indigenous peoples, whether they are from Small Island States, Least developed countries or middle income countries, all suffer from the adverse impacts of climate change and they should have access to funds, appropriate technologies and technical assistance to allow them to adapt. We support the setting up of the Adaptation Committee and we call on Parties to consider the participation of indigenous peoples in both the Adaptation Committee and the Adaptation Fund Board.

We are concerned the section on Cooperative Sectoral Approaches has no language under the heading. The earlier CRP. 2 had text recognizing the interests of small and marginal farmers, rights of indigenous peoples and traditional knowledge and practices. We appeal to Parties to ensure that this language still remains in the final Cancun Decisions.

As far as the Kyoto Protocol we decry attempts by some Developed Country Parties to kill this or to merge KP into LCA and have one legally binding agreement. We are also alarmed that there is yet no clear commitment for a Second Commitment Period when the first period is ending in 2012. The KP remains the only legally binding agreement that sets targets of industrialized countries to lower their greenhouse gas emissions. Failure to agree on the second commitment period will ensure that industrialized countries, who are the main culprits in climate change, are freed from any legally binding commitments. The danger of business-as-usual for these countries are all but guaranteed once the Kyoto Protocol is killed.

We reiterate our call that indigenous peoples’ participation in all UNFCCC processes and mechanisms at the global, regional and national levels be institutionalized. We recommend that an Indigenous Peoples’ Advisory Group be established which can provide advice to the UNFCCC.

Indigenous peoples are not only vulnerable to climate change impacts, they also provide long-lasting solutions to climate change as long as their rights to their lands, resources and territories are secured, their right have their free, prior and informed consent is respected and financial, technological and technical support are provided to them.


*About the organizers:

Tebtebba (Indigenous Peoples’ International Centre for Policy Research and Education) is a global indigenous organization based in the Philippines, working for the recognition, respect and fulfillment of indigenous peoples’ rights. It partners with indigenous organizations in building capacities of indigenous organizations and communities to effectively influence policies and programmes on climate change in global, national and local levels.

The IPCCSD is a global network of indigenous organizations coming from Latin America, Asia, Pacific, Arctic that have on-the-ground work related to climate change and climate-sensitive development. It works to ensure that the local initiatives, perspectives and demands of indigenous peoples and communities are surfaced and given priority in various arenas such as the UNFCCC and in regional and national spaces such as in national bodies on climate change and REDD+, among others.

Contacts: Raymond de Chavez: raymond [at] tebtebba [dot] org and Veronica Vargas: prensa [at] chirapaq [dot] org [dot] pe


Cancún Betrayal: UNFCCC Unmasked as WTO of the Sky

Real Solutions to the Climate Crisis Will Come From Grassroots Movements

11 December 2010

Statement by the Indigenous Environmental Network: “Mass-based movement building is our only hope to overturn the climate apartheid we now face.”

As representatives of Indigenous peoples and communities already suffering the immediate impacts of climate change, we express our outrage and disgust at the agreements that have emerged from the COP16 talks. As was exposed in the Wikileaks climate scandal, the Cancun Agreements are not the result of an informed and open consensus process, but the consequence of an ongoing US diplomatic offensive of backroom deals, arm-twisting and bribery that targeted nations in opposition to the Copenhagen Accord during the months leading up to the COP-16 talks.

We are not fooled by this diplomatic shell game. The Cancun Agreements have no substance. They are yet more hot air. Their only substance is to promote continued talks about climate mitigation strategies motivated by profit.

Such strategies have already proved fruitless and have been shown to violate human and Indigenous rights. The agreements implictly promote carbon markets, offsets, unproven technologies, and land grabs—anything but a commitment to real emissions reductions.

The Voices of the People Must be Respected

Indigenous Peoples from North to South cannot afford these unjust and false ‘solutions’, because climate change is killing our peoples, cultures and ecosystems. We need real commitments to reduce emissions at the source and to keep fossil fuels in the ground.

Because we are on the front lines of the impacts of climate change, we came to COP-16 with an urgent call to address the root causes of the climate crisis, to demand respect for the Rights of Mother Earth, and to fundamentally redefine industrial society’s relationship with the planet.

Instead, the Climate COP has shut the doors on our participation and that of other impacted communities, while welcoming business, industry, and speculators with open arms.

The U.S., Industrialized nations, big business and unethical companies like Goldman Sachs will profit handsomely from these agreements while our people die.

Women and youth in our communities are disproportionately burdened by climate impacts and rights violations. Real solutions would strengthen our collective rights and land rights while ensuring the protection of women, youth and vulnerable communities.

While the Cancun Agreements do contain some language “noting” rights, it is exclusively in the context of market mechanisms, while failing to guarantee safeguards for the rights of peoples and communities.

The failures of the UN talks in Copenhagen have been compounded in Cancun. From the opening day to the closing moments of the talks, our voices were censored, dissenting opinions silenced and dozens ejected from the conference grounds.

The thousands who rallied outside to reject market mechanisms and demand recognition of human and Indigenous rights were ignored.

The Market Will Not Protect Our Rights

Market-based approaches have failed to stop climate change. They are designed to commodify and profit from the last remaining elements of our Mother Earth and the air.

Through its focus on market approaches like carbon trading, the UNFCCC has become the WTO of the Sky.

We are deeply concerned that the Cancun Agreements betray both our future and the rights of peoples, women, youth, and vulnerable populations.

While the preamble to the Cancun Agreements note a call for “studies on human rights and climate change,” this is in effect an empty reference, with no content and no standards, that will not protect the collective rights of peoples.

The market mechanisms that implicitly dominate both the spirit and the letter of the Cancun Agreements will neither avert climate change nor guarantee human rights, much less the Rights of Mother Earth.

Approaches based on carbon offsetting, like REDD, will permit polluters to continue poisoning land, water, air, and our bodies, while doing nothing to stop the climate crisis. Indeed, approaches based on the commodification of biodiversity, CO2, forests, water, and other sacred elements will only encourage the buying and selling of our human and environmental rights.

The Cochabamba People’s Agreement Points the Way Forward

There is another way forward: the Cochabamba People’s Agreement represents the vision of everyday people from all corners of the globe who are creating the solutions to climate change from the ground up, and calling for a global framework that respects human rights and the Rights of Mother Earth.

If any hope emerges from Cancun, it comes from the dramatic demonstrations we saw in the streets and from the deep and powerful alliances that were built among indigenous and social movements.

The Indigenous Environmental Network joined thousands of our brothers and sisters to demand real climate solutions based in the rights of Indigenous Peoples, the rights of Mother Earth, and a just transition away from fossil fuels. We will continue to stand with our allies to demand climate justice.

The communities on the frontlines of the problem––those who face the daily impacts of the climate crisis––are also on the frontlines of the solutions. Community-based solutions can cool the planet!

The fight for climate justice continues. We are committed to deepening our alliances with indigenous and social movements around the world as we build in our communities and mobilize toward COP-17 in Durban, South Africa.

Social movements in South Africa mobilized the world to overthrow Apartheid and create powerful, transformative change.

The same mass-based movement building is our only hope to overturn the climate apartheid we now face. We look forward to working with our African brothers and sisters and tribal communities in Durban.

We only have one Mother Earth. As Indigenous Peoples, we will continue our struggle to defend all our Relations and future generations.