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Looking ahead COP21: State of negotiations on the Indigenous Peoples' agenda

Looking ahead COP21: State of negotiations on the Indigenous People’s agenda

This year’s COP21 in Paris, France promises to be an opportunity to further emphasize the importance of indigenous participation in Climate Talks.

Last year’s negotiations in Lima, Peru had marked an important step towards integration of the Indigenous Peoples of this world into discussions about protection and use of land as well as concerning measures for mitigation and adaptation to climate change, as representatives of Indigenous Communities had been able to bring forward an agenda of demands:

·      - Recognition of a human rights-based approach which respects indigenous peoples’ rights in climate-change agreements and related actions

·      - Respect od Indigenous Peoples’ rights to lands, territories and resources

·      - Recognition of, and respect for, indigenous traditional knowledge and the role of indigenous peoples in adaptation and mitigation

·      - Recognition and support of indigenous peoples’ community-based monitoring and information systems (CBMIS)

·      - Respect indigenous peoples’ rights to full and effective participation in all climate change actions and UNFCCC institutions

·      - Ensure indigenous peoples’ direct access to finance and capacity building.

"Summary of Indigenous Peoples' Demands for UNFCCC COP20, Lima" forestpeople.org, December 2014

With COP21 coming up in December 2015, representatives of the Indigenous Communities are getting ready to highlight this agenda once again.

In the wake of the annual UNFCCC Convention, the following topics relevant to indigenous participation show to be discussed in Paris.

As states CIFOR (Centre for International Forest Research), we can expect to hear more about these issues concerning indigenous people and land use rights at COP21:

Net Zero Emissions Approach

The "net-zero" emissions (emission reduction = the sum of all reduced emissions and increased carbon stocks) approach as proposed in the Geneva text is to be said to involve significant ramification for the land sector. IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report AR5 further stressed the “net-zero” approach as well as the unproven technology “bioenergy carbon capture and storage” (BECCS).

Discussions on “net-zero” and BECCS are to be expected at COP21, especially associated with risks to food security, rights of Indigenous peoples, local communities and biodiversity.

Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities

CIFOR focuses on the sections on adaptation, commitments and capacity building in the Geneva text, as these included options to ensure the recognition of Indigenous peoples´ traditional knowledge.

However, CIFOR stresses the need for clarification of omissions such as concerning transparency proposing Land Sector Principles, as well as the need to include Indigenous peoples or local communities to the section of mitigations. Further they call for recognition of the intellectual property associated with Indigenous peoples knowledge and support of local people, in particular indigenous peoples and local communities, for mitigation and adaptation activities within their territories.


A roadmap involving a process of submissions and expert meetings was agreed at SBSTA 40. The agriculture roadmap has commenced with submissions received in March, and concerned early warning systems and contingency plans in relation to extreme weather; and assessment of risk and vulnerability of agricultural systems to different climate change scenarios at regional, national and local levels. An in-session workshop will be held on these issues in Bonn.

he roadmap will continue with additional submissions expected in March 2016 concerning identification of adaptation measures, taking into account the diversity of agricultural systems, Indigenous knowledge systems and co-benefits, socioeconomic, environmental and gender aspects; and identification and assessment of agricultural practices and technologies to enhance productivity in a sustainable manner, food security and resilience, considering the differences in agroecological zones and farming systems.”

"Countdown to Paris: 10 climate concerns related to forests and land use “ blog.cifor.org 29/05/15

The outcomes of this roadmap are expected to inform ongoing negotiations after Paris, undertaken to determine the implementation and coming into force of the new agreement, so CIFOR.

REDD+ Program

Concerning the REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation) program, CIFOR emphasises the “need to create governance structures that would protect indigenous people during the implementation of REDD+ projects as REDD+ can lead to reduced access to natural resources and land tenure insecurity for locals”.

CIFOR considers REDD+ a key debated issue between Indigenous People and project developers, as REDD+ is moving forward on a global scale and human rights advocates will continue to call for close monitoring of its interactions with local communities.

"Countdown to Paris: 10 climate concerns related to forests and land use “ blog.cifor.org 29/05/15

UNESCO is further to be expected to highlight the topic of Inclusion of Indigenous People in building resilience at COP21, as announced in their agenda for Climate Change and COP21.

UNESCO explicitly calls for inclusion of young people, women and indigenous and ethnic minorities into the process of redirecting our technology, science, finance and ingenuity to transform our economies and ensure equality as well as sustainable future for all. Additionally UNESCO names Knowledge, Science and Culture as one of five main themes concerning future sustainability talks, which is supposed to promote improving “resilience of Member States to climate change through national and local mitigation, adaptation and risk management policies based on science, local and indigenous knowledge and ecological and sociological systems”

A side event by UNSECO on Resilience in a time of uncertainty: Indigenous peoples and climate change (26-27. November 2015) is to be expected.

Other related links:

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