An indigenous perspective on the COP 16 summit

The following extracts are taken from the ‘Political Position of the International Indigenous Forum on Climate Change after the First Week of Negotiations 6th December, 2010, Cancún Mexico’.

As Indigenous Peoples from all over the world attending COP 16, we are at the front line regarding the direct impacts of climate change, the impacts derived from the implementation of false solutions, and the impacts generated by States which do not recognize or guarantee our rights. Our present and future survival is at risk. However, we continue, in effect, to be excluded as Indigenous Peoples from these discussions and these decision-making processes. We demand respect for our rights as well as our full and effective participation.

We reaffirm that the three main pillars of our political position must be guaranteed and implemented in the final outcome of Cancun, as well as in all the processes, agreements and actions on climate change at the regional, national and international levels:

  • Full respect for our rights, including those contained in the United Nations Declaration of Indigenous Peoples.
  • Respect for our right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent.
  • Recognition and protection of our traditional knowledge as a basis for generating effective solutions to climate change. Our strategies and local solutions based on our traditional knowledge can provide real solutions to climate change.

We recognize that the current negotiating text being negotiated by the Parties contains some references to Indigenous Peoples, and these references must remain in the final agreement in Cancun. However, these references fall short of responding to our demands for the full recognition and implementation of the rights which, after 30 years of struggle, are now recognized in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Our rights must be included in all sections of the agreement coming out of Cancun, inter alia, the Preamble, Shared Vision and REDD sections.

We also continue to reject the carbon market as a false solution to climate change. Our Mother Earth is not a commodity. In particular, we insist that forests serve a variety of functions and are the source of life for Indigenous Peoples around the world, including those in voluntary isolation. For this reason, they cannot be part of any program or scheme based on the carbon market.

The solutions must recognize that Mother Earth is sacred. We urge the State representatives to reflect on and evaluate their relationship with Mother Earth, and to find real and effective solutions that restore the equilibrium and respect between nature and human beings.

We urge the State representatives gathered here to recognize the gravity of the climate crisis. We demand that, especially the industrialized countries, assume their responsibilities for the defense and protection of Mother Earth and commit to take effective, serious and legally-binding actions to reduce emissions of the Greenhouse Gases that are threatening life around the world.

We must speak for the plants, animals and future generations whose voices are not included here. Their survival, like ours, depends on strong, just and real outcomes at the end of this week here in Cancun.