Indigenous Peoples, Visible at COP28, Invisible in Agreements

DUBAI.- In 2017, indigenous groups achieved the milestone that the 23rd Conference of Parties (COP23) on climate change created the Platform of Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples (PPICL), to incorporate their knowledge and participation in the climate negotiations of the annual summits, which on that occasion were staged in the German city of Bonn.

Six years later, indigenous groups view the real progress of this process with concern, because its impact is still not recognizable at COP28 of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which has been held since November 30th in Dubai, the second city of the United Arab Emirates.

Kleber Karipuna, executive coordinator of the Brazilian Association of Indigenous Peoples, questioned the existing results. “We are waiting for the negotiation. There is little progress in the inclusion of indigenous peoples. We still do not see a positive result,” the leader told IPS.

Karipuna, from the indigenous people of the same name, is one of the hundreds of indigenous leaders participating in COP28, including dozens of Latin Americans. His motto at the summit is: “Unite. Act. Comply”, which they repeated this Tuesday the 5th in the activities that took place on the day dedicated to Indigenous Peoples within the summit.

In Dubai, one of the seven emirates, more than 70,000 people gather, including government representatives, civil society, academia and business, to address issues such as financing for mitigation and adaptation to the effects of the climate crisis, the transition beyond oil, gas and coal, as well as the set of policies against the existing emergency.

In this Arab city, indigenous people attend official events, take part in parallel forums and walk the corridors and patios of Expo City, the enormous venue on the outskirts of Dubai that hosts the summit. But the distance between that presence and the decisions of the COP is still more than kilometric.

“It will become evident if they actually take our proposals into account or only use us as a shield, and we don’t want that. We come to publicize the work of indigenous peoples from our knowledge, in terms of protecting the environment and Mother Earth. We are not the cause of the impacts of climate change, but we suffer them and we have the solutions.”

Maria Pedro.

The headquarters of the negotiations and the pavilions of the countries and organizations accredited to the Convention Secretariat is in the Blue Zone, where access is limited in some areas. Meanwhile, the Green Zone houses the exhibition of companies, NGOs and organizations that is open to the public.

In fact, indigenous peoples have their own pavilion in the Blue Zone, where several events took place Tuesday 5th, the day dedicated to their climate approaches and rights at the summit.

The most current draft of the text on the Global Review of compliance with the Paris Agreement, signed in 2015 at COP21, which will be the basis of the official final declaration of COP28 and which was published early Tuesday 5th, mentions “indigenous peoples” 11 times and in which it emphasizes that sustainable and just solutions lie in “meaningful and effective social dialogue” and the participation of interested parties, including indigenous peoples.

The indigenous Q’anjob’al María Pedro, from Guatemala, participates in the Dubai climate summit, which began on November 30th and will close on December 12th, to promote the rights of indigenous women and the practices of indigenous peoples in environmental Protection.

It also recognizes the role of the PPICL, to strengthen the capacity of indigenous peoples and local communities to engage effectively in the UNFCCC process and for State Parties to meaningfully involve them in their climate policies and actions.

Invisible Players

But that has not been the case with respect to the inclusion of indigenous issues in nationally determined contributions (NDC), the set of voluntary measures undertaken by each country to reduce polluting emissions and confront the consequences of the climate crisis.

The NDCs are a core part of the Paris Agreement, in force since 2021, and on which the goal of limiting the increase in temperature to 1.5 degrees Celsius pivots, considered the minimum objective and the essential containment of planetary warming to avoid irreversible climate and, consequently, human catastrophes.

In them, nations must establish their goals for 2030 and 2050 to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, taking as a baseline a specific year, the way to achieve those goals, the peak year of their emissions and when they would achieve net zero emissions, absorbing as many gases as they release into the atmosphere.

“We are waiting for the negotiation. There is little progress in the inclusion of indigenous peoples. We still don’t see a positive result.”

Kleber Karipuna.

For the indigenous Q’anjob’al María Pedro, manager of the non-governmental Association of Eulalenses Women for Integral Development in Guatemala, the indigenous communities are not adequately valued in their role in mitigation and adaptation to the climate crisis.

“It will become evident if they actually take our proposals into account or only use us as a shield, and we don’t want that. We come to publicize the work of indigenous peoples from our knowledge, in terms of protecting the environment and Mother Earth. We are not the cause of the impacts of climate change, but we suffer them and we have the solutions,” she told IPS.

Indigenous territories face deforestation, illegal mining exploitation, invasion, drought, the construction of megaprojects, the impact of criminal groups and the increase in temperature and attacks against environmental defenders, for which they demand measures and financial resources.

Indigenous peoples argue that their participation in the climate fight is vital, since they manage about 22% of the planet’s land, which is home to 80% of biodiversity.

The forest area in their possession, they repeat at COP28, provides clean air, water, food, medicine and captures carbon dioxide, the gas generated by the burning of fossil fuels and responsible for global warming.

The indigenous Bribri from Costa Rica, Levi Sucre, accused governments of ignoring native groups.

“They are not taking us into account. The world is not understanding our role in relation to the forests that protect humanity,” denounced the general coordinator of the Mesoamerican Alliance of Peoples and Forests, which brings together 11 groups that manage 50 million hectares in Mexico and five Central American nations.

Recent studies suggest that national governments fail to recognize the territorial rights of indigenous peoples and local communities over their territories, and deny the invitation to indigenous leaders to design and implement solutions facilitated by international agreements and even negotiated at climate summits.

The indigenous Kleber Karipuna, leader of the Brazilian Association of Indigenous Peoples, was disappointed by the limited progress in the climate negotiations, especially in relation to ancestral issues, but expressed his hope that the COP28 in Dubai will close with a favorable agreement for the native populations. Photo: E

Poor conservation

But a fundamental issue that reflects the indigenous presence in the international framework is financing for territorial care.

An analysis by the Group of Forest Property Financiers, presented on Friday the 1st at COP28, concluded that only 2.1% (8.1 million dollars) of its 494 million disbursed in 2022 directly reached the benefited communities. The amount represents a decrease compared to the 2.9% of 2021 financial support received by indigenous people.

This is a commitment at COP26, held in the Scottish city of Glasgow, announced by five developed countries and ten international donors, including foundations and philanthropic organizations, to direct $1.7 billion during 2021-2025 to strengthen the property rights of forest communities in countries in Latin America, Africa, Asia and the Pacific.

Another report, released on Sunday the 2nd by the Global Alliance of Territorial Communities, indicates that few indigenous organizations in 24 tropical countries operate with budgets greater than 200 thousand dollars. The average amounts to one dollar per hectare under their possession, a ridiculous amount considering the benefits generated by these areas.

The Brazilian Karipuna expressed his hope for changes in the second week of negotiations at the summit, which must close on the 12th, unless, as usual, it is extended for one more day.

“We hope that the world recognizes the importance of indigenous peoples as fundamental players. But that is not yet visualized in the decision. In adaptation (to climate change), investment and financing are lacking,” he said.

For her part, the Guatemalan Pedro demanded a genuine inclusion of indigenous interests, so that “our ancestral knowledge is taken into account in international agreements, within environmental conservation and the agricultural part.”

In turn, Costa Rican Levi demanded respect for human rights and the development of consultations prior to project planning, free of pressure and with comprehensive and appropriate information.

Original article at
Translated by Schools for Chiapas.

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