Indian Time - A Voice from the Eastern Door

Indigenous Environmental Network - The Paris Agreement Does Not Recognize Indigenous Rights


Bonn, Germany. November 17, 2017. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change 23rd Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 23) has come to an end. And while progress has been made on the UNFCCC traditional knowledge Platform for engagement of local communities and Indigenous Peoples, Indigenous Peoples’ rights are not fully recognized in the final platform document of COP 23. The burden of implementation falls on local communities and indigenous peoples.

The primary work of the Indigenous Caucus within the UN climate conference focused on a platform that was established in Paris in 2015, in the Paris Agreement. This platform is through decision 1/CP.21 paragraph 135, with a mandate to facilitate the integration of indigenous and local knowledge systems as well as the engagement of Indigenous peoples and local communities related to climate change action, programs and policies. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has not recognized our rights. The final document from the parties to this conference says they only will ‘consider their respective obligations on the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities.’

Alberto Saldamando, Attorney and Expert on Human Rights and Rights of Indigenous Peoples, IEN added, “We are not waving the victory flags yet, the local communities and Indigenous peoples platform does not recognize the rights of Indigenous peoples in the human rights sense of the term “recognize.” It only “recalls” the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in its preamble. Given the resistance of States during these negotiations to fully recognize the rights of Indigenous peoples, the task for a greater recognition of our rights as peoples will be difficult” Saldamando further says, “The platform for traditional knowledge is merely that. It should allow Indigenous knowledge holders to advise and inform the UN climate conference in mitigation and adaptation. Although we would hope that it would, the platform does not necessarily protect forests or rights. That is yet to be determined as we proceed on the path of implementation. It is not even implemented yet. This decision only allows us to participate in operationalizing it, sometime in the future, at the next UNFCCC COP 24. Notwithstanding what has been reported we are not negotiating or decision making. The platform will only recommend.”

Dallas Goldtooth, IEN, stated, “During the COP23 conference there has been engaged discussion on the mitigation of climate change and the implementation of the agreements made in Paris during COP21. However, it’s been a real struggle to get parties, nation-states, to take the sincere steps needed to address the climate chaos we are seeing across the globe. There has more emphasis on building up the monetization of forests and trading carbon than there has been on the managed decline of fossil fuel production, and Indigenous peoples are right in the middle of this. We need international solidarity for Keeping Fossil Fuels in the Ground and to reject carbon trading as a climate solution. We must exert our power as citizens of the world to protect indigenous rights, address the climate chaos, and to defend the sacred integrity of Mother Earth. I firmly believe in the collective power of us all to make the changes we need to see.”

It is our (IEN) understanding that the false solutions of carbon marketing offsetting greenhouse gas emissions offered by the US White House representatives or California’s very own Governor Jerry Brown will cause more harm to humanity and continue to silence indigenous voices and our existence. False solutions like these are cancerous and have negative impacts like respiratory problems and autoimmune diseases.


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