Climate change solutions are in our ancient knowledge, traditions and the way we relate with mother Earth but to achieve this we need the recognition of our land rights.
At national, regional and international level, participation of indigenous peoples and local communities in climate and forests negotiations is absolutely crucial. Several scientific investigations, maps of cover forests and territorial evidence prove that our ancient practices to manage forests and its biodiversity are key to mitigate climate change.
United Nations Development Program (UNDP) called indigenous peoples and local communities around the world to participate in Equatorial Prize 2015, an international award for the recognition of efforts to reduce poverty, to protect the environment and strength resilience to climate change in the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference (UNFCCC – COP 21) framework.
20 indigenous peoples and local communities organizations were awarded with Equatorial Prize 2015 and 8 of them come from regions where communities manage 85% of tropical forest of the World (Amazon, Mesoamerica, Congo basin and Asian southeast) and contribute to humanity by protecting woodlands and natural resources to preserve life planet.
We want to use this award to raise our voices and to join the global call of Coordinating Body of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon Basin (COICA), Réseau des Peuples Autochtones et Locales Pour la Gestion des Écosystèmes Forestiers (REPALEF) from Congo basin in Africa, Aliansi Masyarakat Adat Nusantara (AMAN) from Indonesia and Mesoamerican Alliance of Peoples and Forests (AMPB) for UNFCCC – COP 21 negotiations to promote the incorporation of the contribution of our experiences to reduce climate change effects and the respect of indigenous rights.
Climate change solutions are in our ancient knowledge, traditions and the way we relate with mother Earth but to achieve this we need the recognition of our land rights. Therefore, today we make the following statement to the World, demanding:
- 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.
Given in Paris, France, on Monday 7th December 2015.
Equatorial Prize 2015 awarded organizations