We Indigenous Peoples are rights holders, not stakeholders – global problems

Places where Indigenous property rights are safe are where land and water are best protected. Courtesy: Amantha Perera/IPS
  • Opinion by Jennifer Tauli Corpuz, Stanley Kimaren Ole Riamit
  • Inter Press Service

The storms that ravage the Philippines, on the other hand, bring torrential rains and devastating winds. The Igorot communities on the island of Luzon have a front row seat to these storms and are struggling to keep their way of life intact.

Super Typhoon Haiyan may have made the biggest impact when it struck south of Luzon during the UN climate change negotiations in 2013, but in 2018 Super Typhoon Mangkhut hit Luzon directly. Three months ago, Super Typhoon Noru hammered the same area.

As a Maasai from Kenya and an Igorot from the Philippines, we indigenous people wake up every day to realities that are worlds apart. However, our peoples share a deep attachment to our ancestral territories and to the flora and fauna on which we depend for spiritual, cultural, and physical needs.

The Maasai and the Igorot, as indigenous peoples around the world, also share a colonial history that has caused unimaginable losses to our communities and damaged ecosystems vital to the global fight against biodiversity loss and the climate change.

We have lost and been damaged by the actions of the past. And we can see that governments that negotiated this year’s UN talks on climate change and biodiversity have failed to protect our peoples and our ecosystems from current and future losses and damage.

There was an agreement in principle that a fund should be set up to offset losses and damages from climate change, but no details or actual funding emerged. Our survival and that of our countries, our cultures and our traditional knowledge, all this is at stake.

Indigenous peoples are not only stakeholders in the UN negotiations. Instead, we are rights holders. Much has been said about how the tropical forests and peatlands provide both climate and biodiversity solutions. These are our lands that contain these carbon sinks and teem with life.

Indigenous peoples and local communities control half of the world’s land and provide 80% of the planet’s biodiversity, mostly under customary tenure arrangements.

Looking specifically at tropical forests, our management has proven to be the most effective at keeping them intact – better than government-managed “protected areas” and better than management by other private interests. Places where Indigenous property rights are safe are where land and water are best protected.

In its most recent report on climate change this year, the UN Science Panel said: “Supporting indigenous self-determination, recognizing the rights of indigenous peoples and supporting indigenous peoples’ knowledge-based adaptation are critical to reducing the risks of climate change and effective adaptation.”

Yet a 2021 study showed that Indigenous communities and organizations receive less than 1% of climate finance intended to combat deforestation. Of the $1.7 billion pledged at COP 26 to support the property rights and forest protection of indigenous peoples and local communities, only 7% of funds disbursed went directly to organizations led by them, representing only 0.13% of represents all climate development aid.

Very little money is available for economic and non-economic losses and damage from the climate change-induced extreme weather events that plague us. And the UN Science Panel report notes that “Climate change is impacting indigenous peoples’ way of life, cultural and linguistic diversity, food security, and health and well-being.”

The transformation scientists are calling for to face both climate and biodiversity crises requires just and effective responses, and can only be led by us. At the same time, we need help dealing with this extreme weather.

These crises have removed the middle ground, that quixotic search for compromise that has inevitably delayed effective action. With limited resources available, we face a paradox. The wealth of past exploitation could help alleviate the damage climate change has caused, or more of this money could be used for adaptation and mitigation, to mitigate the worst impacts of what climate change will do to us – now and in the future. the future.

The urgency to fund both needs has yet to sink in, while in our countries carbon is still seen as a climate solution, a theoretical good that can be bought and sold in markets many thousands of miles away. Profits are made by people and entities who play no part in how we manage and protect our land, but very little of the proceeds – such as climate development aid – go our way.

Safeguarding and respecting land rights represents a risk reduction strategy for all of humanity, not just those who want to invest in land inhabited by the people who best manage them. It has never been more important to bring us to the table when planning and implementing solutions for conservation and development, both globally and locally.

We welcome those who wish to work with us and provide assistance and resources as we strive to keep our land and the well-being of our community intact. If we are to escape the worst of what climate change has in store for us, the time to grab land, money and power – and hold on to material wealth – must be relegated to the past.

Instead, all parts of humanity must learn to cooperate and share fairly, in accordance with the principle of common but differentiated responsibility. Our planet’s environmental problems threaten us all.

Jennifer Tauli Corpusof the Kankana-ey Igorot People of Mountain Province in the Philippines, and a lawyer by profession, is the Global Policy and Advocacy Lead for Nia Tero.

Stanley Kimaren and Riamit is a leader of indigenous peoples from the Masai herding community in southern Kenya. He is the founding director of Indigenous Livelihoods Enhancement Partners (ILEPA), a community organization for indigenous peoples in Kenya.

© Inter Press Service (2022) — All rights reservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service

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