December 9th, 2015.
Indigenous leaders from Amazon and Mesoamerica attended The Civil Society High-Level Dialogue with civic organizations representatives and political authorities in XXI Conference of the Parties of United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21 – UNFCCC).
“We are here to bring the voices from our territories and to say to the World that we are the best protectors of the forests but we need the recognition of our rights to continue this labor and contribute to our mother Earth”, said Panama indigenous leader, Candido Mezua representing Mesoamerican Alliance of Peoples and Forests (AMPB).
During this meeting, Mezua and Adolfo Chavez from Coordinating Body of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon Basin (COICA) gave the Global Campaign #PaddleToParis symbol to Christiana Figueres, UNFCCC Executive Secretary, and Manuel Pulgar, COP20 President and Peruvian Minister of Agriculture.
Likewise, both indigenous leaders presented a joint proposal to tackle climate change effects from COICA, Réseau des Peuples Autochtones et Locales Pour la Gestion des Écosystèmes Forestiers (REPALEF) in Congo basin, Aliansi Masyarakat Adat Nusantara (AMAN) in asian pacific and southeast and AMPB.
This is the statement of indigenous peoples and local communities from Mesoamerica, Amazon, Congo basin and asian southeast that was given to Christiana Figueres in COP21:
- Title all currently unrecognized indigenous territories: Recognition of the rights of indigenous peoples and forest communities to land tenure is widely understood to be a viable strategy for mitigating climate change. Nevertheless, progress on the recognition of these rights worldwide has slowed recently, so it is urgent that efforts to title unrecognized territories be redoubled.
- End the persecution of indigenous leaders: Indigenous leaders are criminalized for defending their basic human rights to their territorial lands and this practice must end. These rights are fundamental to their ability to secure their forests against all manner of threats.
- Recognition of indigenous peoples’ contributions to climate change mitigation and adaptation in the context of Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs): Indigenous knowledge and tradition is essential to mitigating climate change, especially in the case of forests. Governments must recognize the role of indigenous peoples as part of their INDCs and ensure adequate support – both financial and political.
- Implement the use of Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC): This principle is fundamental to reaching working operational frameworks of governance supported by mutual consensus between local and external actors. Moreover, it is key to ensure that the considerable investments in climate change initiatives are not lost due to the denial of consent by indigenous peoples.
- Direct access to climate financing for indigenous peoples organizations: Despite significant efforts by indigenous peoples to defend and preserve their territories, they have yet to receive adequate recognition from climate financing mechanisms. The vast majority of current support is channeled to governments and NGOs where administrative and other expenses not directly related to forest conservation limit the resources available. Therefore, more balanced and direct funding for indigenous peoples is necessary in order to protect the forests that are critical to long-term climate stabilization.
This agenda was promoted through Global Campaign #PaddleToParis to bring indigenous voices around the world to COP21 climate negotiations. Adolfo Chavez and Juan Carlos Jintiach from COICA explained that “providing to Christiana Figueres these paddles signed for indigenous peoples is our way to say that we are here all together in the same canoe and that our voices must be included in COP21 climate agreements.”