We share an important statement of the recent report “Climate change and the earth”, which recalls that the recognition of the rights to land and forests of indigenous peoples is part of an effective solution to curb the climate crisis.
The report of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) presented on August 8 refers, for the first time, to the crucial role played by indigenous peoples and local communities in the preservation of ecosystems and the prevention of deforestation.
This is emphasized by Alain Frechette, director of Strategic Analysis and Global Commitment, of the Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI), and who has more than 25 years of service in natural resource management, conservation of the biodiversity and climate change.
Below we reproduce some reflections of Alain Frechette and then the statement on the occasion of the report.
A statement by indigenous peoples and local communities on the IPCC Special Report on climate change and land
By Alain Frechette
We have received a lot of bad news about the weather. Last year, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned us that we have 12 years to prevent the worst effects of climate change. Scientists now warn that the policy infrastructure to align with these goals must be established by 2020, at a time when too many world leaders seem unwilling to take action.
Today's IPCC report is a critical reminder by the world's leading scientists that an effective solution to this crisis already exists: to recognize the rights of indigenous peoples and the local communities that have taken care of the world's forests for generations.
For the first time, the IPCC report refers to the crucial role that indigenous peoples and local communities in the world play in preserving ecosystems and preventing deforestation, both vital to the global fight to combat climate change.
We have seen the overwhelming evidence of this for years, and the political community can no longer afford to delay action to recognize community land rights to land to secure our collective future.
In response to the report, indigenous and community organizations and networks, representing 42 countries covering 1.6 billion hectares of forests, including 76 percent of the world's tropical forests, issued a statement. His statement highlights the science that supports what has always been known and concludes with concrete recommendations for decision makers.
IPCC agrees with indigenous peoples and local communities * on climate change
Declaration of indigenous peoples and local communities in 42 countries, more than 1.6 billion hectares of land managed by indigenous peoples and local communities and 76% of the world's tropical forests, on the Special Report on Climate Change and IPCC land.
Finally, the best scientists in the world recognize what we have always known.
We, indigenous peoples and local communities, play a fundamental role in the administration and safeguarding of the world's lands and forests. For the first time, the report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published today recognizes that strengthening our rights is a critical solution to the climate crisis.
The report makes it clear that recognizing the rights of indigenous peoples, local communities and women within these groups throughout the world is a scalable climate solution, and that all actors must become partners in measures in favor of climate protection. . Our traditional knowledge and sustainable management of the world's lands and forests are key to reducing global emissions in order to limit the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees by 2030. We have taken care of our lands and forests, and the biodiversity they contain, for generations. With the appropriate support, we can continue to do so for the next generations.
As the IPCC now recognizes, a substantial and increasingly extensive body of scientific literature demonstrates our critical role as guardians of the earth and forests of the world. This is what the evidence shows:
1. Secure community rights over land and resources are essential for sustainable management and for the effective conservation of forests. Forests of legitimate ownership or designated for use by indigenous peoples and local communities are linked to:
- Lower rates of deforestation and forest degradation.
- Less conflict, illegal appropriation and change in large-scale land use / land cover.
- Less carbon emissions and greater carbon storage.
- Greater investment in activities for the maintenance of forests.
- Better conservation of forests and biodiversity.
- Forestry restoration measures more equitable and sustainable.
- More benefits for more people.
- Better results at a social, environmental and economic level in general, than in forests managed by public or private entities, including protected areas.
2. We manage at least 22% (218 gigatons) of the total carbon found in tropical and subtropical forests (including both surface and underground sources).
- At least one third of this carbon – and probably much more – is in areas where we do not have our land rights formally recognized. The lack of legal recognition of our rights leaves our forests vulnerable to environmentally destructive projects that devastate forests and release huge amounts of carbon into the atmosphere.[x]
- The legal recognition of our rights to land and support for our initiatives is fundamental to the success of global measures aimed at mitigating climate change.
3. The lands of indigenous peoples intersect with approximately 40% of all protected areas and more than 65% of the world's most remote and least inhabited lands.
The protection of communities' rights over the lands they customarily manage is essential to protect the world's biodiversity, conserve threatened ecosystems and restore degraded lands.
- Indigenous peoples and local communities are so effective –and often better – to protect biodiversity as protected areas controlled by the state.
- Cultural diversity and biological diversity are strongly integrated: secure land rights are fundamental to our sustainable management of nature, and the maintenance of our traditional knowledge systems is essential to conserve biodiversity and effective environmental governance in general.
4. The freedom to govern ourselves, leverage our traditional knowledge and adapt to our changing circumstances is essential to achieve a more sustainable and climate resistant future–in particular through the leadership of indigenous women and communities.
5. However, so far, our contributions have been overlooked. Although indigenous peoples and local communities are customary owners of more than 50% of the world's land, governments formally recognize our property only with respect to 10%. Women in our communities – who increasingly play important roles as leaders, forest managers and economic providers – are even less likely to recognize their rights.
In many places, the legal infrastructure to recognize rights is already implemented: legally recognized community forests increased by 40% (150 million hectares) in the last 15 years. We could achieve more than double that progress – and benefit 200 million people – if existing legislation were implemented in just four countries (Colombia, DRC, India, Indonesia).
This gap between our legal and customary rights makes us and our lands vulnerable to the growing threats of agro-industrial production, destructive mining and logging practices, and large-scale infrastructure developments, and we face further criminalization and violence against our efforts to protect Mother Earth. At least 365 defenders of land rights were killed since the signing of the Paris Agreement, and many more were victims of violence and unfair prosecutions.
On the contrary, where our rights are respected, we offer an alternative to economic models that require compromise solutions between the environment and development. Our traditional knowledge and our holistic view of nature allow us to feed the world, protect our forests and maintain global biodiversity. Fully respecting the rights of indigenous peoples, local communities and particularly the women who inhabit them represents the greatest opportunity for the world – in terms of land area and number of people affected – to promote global development and climate goals.
To capitalize on the solution we offer, we urge governments, the international community and the private sector to comply with the highest level of law, standards and international best practices in all actions and investments in rural landscapes. With this in mind, we invite the actors to:
- Significantly increase the recognition of our rights to land and forests through increased support for indigenous, community and civil society organizations to implement existing laws and promote legislation that recognizes rights. This includes recognition of the customary rights of indigenous peoples and local communities to govern their lands.
- Guarantee our free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) as part of a continuous cycle of participation in activities that are carried out in our lands, territories, and customary resources, or that affect them.
- Prioritize bilateral and multilateral investments in initiatives led by indigenous people and communities to reduce emissions caused by deforestation, strengthen community conservation and restoration measures, and improve sustainable land use. Find ways to ensure that international financing for climate mitigation and adaptation reaches communities on the ground that can use it for best use.
- End the criminalization and prosecution of indigenous peoples and local communities that defend their lands, forests and natural resources.
- Support existing alliances and develop new alliances that allow our traditional knowledge and practical experiences with land and forest management report current and future efforts to combat climate change.
- Recognize and support the rights of indigenous and community women to own, manage and control land, forests and resources which constitute the basis for their livelihoods, community welfare and food security.