Indigenous Peoples & Climate Governance: Proposals and Mobilization
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At: 6th CUCS conference (University Coordination for Development Cooperation) on “Citizenship and Common Goods” ; Trento ; 19.9.2019 - 21.9.2019 ; Indigenous Peoples are among the most active actors in environmental debates. They have repeatedly claimed a fair management of land and their related rights, especially vis-à-vis potential local and global damages that derived from imbalanced environmental and development policies. However, their claims, contributions and proposals in the international environmental arenas have generally received little attention. This holds particularly true in the design of international climate change law and governance. For instance, more than 250 indigenous delegates actively participated in the Paris negotiations, but their requests were essentially ignored. While the “Rio Declaration on Environment and Development” of the homonymous conference of 1992, and the following “Agenda 21” (at least) included Indigenous Peoples and recognized their role in environmental management and development thanks to the holistic, traditional, but also scientific knowledge of their lands, natural resources and the environment, the climate change international documents have never included or mentioned Indigenous Peoples and their rights until very recently. Indeed, the preamble of the Paris Agreement has finally referred to Indigenous Peoples by acknowledging that “climate change is a common concern of humankind, [and] Parties should, when taking action to address climate change, respect, promote and consider their respective obligations on human rights, the right to health, the rights of indigenous peoples, […]” (Paris Agreement, Preamble, para. 11). Most importantly, its article 7 affirms that the Indigenous knowledge may serve as basis and guidance for adaptation action. Prior to this, the Fifth Assessment Report of 2014 of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC) had listed Indigenous traditional knowledge as one of the “adaptation prospects”. Nevertheless, Indigenous Peoples, if they were duly heard and considered, would have many other relevant proposals to put forward. As recently demonstrated, land tenure systems of indigenous peoples may constitute a mitigation action per se. Furthermore, in various parts of the world, Indigenous Peoples have advanced innovative strategies of climate change adaptation. For instance, they have applied their traditional knowledge to secure the fixing of soil surface nutrients against water runoffs in Africa. Against this background, this paper thus looks at the proposals put forward by Indigenous Peoples at the Paris’ and other climate negotiations, and their way of participating and contributing despite the fact they have been often denied to entry the official negotiation tables.  Caleb Stevens, Robert Winterbottom, Jenny Springer and Katie Reytar, “Securing Rights, Combating Climate Change: How Strengthening Community Forest Rights Mitigates Climate Change”, 2014, World Resources Institute, Washington DC, at www.wri.org/securing-rights. 2 Secretariat of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, “Climate Change: An Overview”, 2007, New York, at www.un.org/esa/socdev/unpfii/documents/climate_change_overview_en.doc; Michelo Hansungule and Ademola Oluborode Jegede, “The Impact of Indigenous Peoples’ Land Tenure and Use: The Case for a Regional Policy in Africa”, 21 International Journal on Minority and Group Rights (2014), 256-291.
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