Include IPs in climate change talks – United Nations

MANILA, Philippines – Indigenous peoples (IP) must be heard during the Paris climate change conference, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) said on Friday, November 20. (READ: Climate change and IPs)

IPs manage around 65% of the world’s land surface, yet they have “largely been excluded from national plans” for the international climate talks, the UNDP said.

The advisory comes weeks before world leaders and advocates come together to discuss ways how to combat climate change.

The UNDP observed that the climate action plans or the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) submitted by 119 countries did not mention anything about IPs. The INDCs are pledges made governments on how they will reduce their carbon emissions, among other steps toward a “low-carbon, climate-resilient future.”

IPs, advocates urge, must be able to influence the climate negotiations since many of them also serve as guardians of the environment.

Over 80% of all lands occupied by IPs “lack legal protection,” the UNDP said, adding that such lands are vulnerable to being “seized” by private companies, individuals, and governments. These abuses are seen in investments in logging, mining, oil and gas, dams and roads, and tourism.

“The same development that fuels climate change, continues to rob indigenous peoples of their human rights,” Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, said in a press statement. 

She emphasized the need to protect IPs' rights and their traditional knowledge for they help keep ecosystems healthy.

PH and IPs

The Philippines is home to around 14 million to 17 million IPs. 

They are protected by Republic Act 8371 or the “Indigenous Peoples Rights Act,” which gives them the right to manage their ancestral domains. Some indigenous communities, however, feel that the law is merely effective on paper. Some IPs are still threatened by large-scale plantations, illegal loggers, and various land-grabbers.

In August 2015, indigenous leaders across the country delivered the State of the Indigenous Peoples Address, which mentioned that IPs contribute the least to climate change and yet they suffer the most from its impacts such as disasters.

“We demand due recognition of our contribution to climate change mitigation and adaptation through our traditional practices and livelihoods. We urge everyone to learn from our simple and sustainable ways of life in order to avert impending climate disasters,” the address read. 

“We call for the various agencies of governments and UN bodies to support the promotion and enhancement of time-tested traditional knowledge and innovations of Indigenous Peoples, as an integral solution to the multiple crises we are facing and towards a more sustainable development,” it added. –