UNFCCC: The road towards COP 20 in Lima
During the recent UNFCCC Climate Change Conference in Bonn (June 4-15), the Peruvian government delegation expressed a clear commitment to facilitate indigenous peoples’ participation in the upcoming COP 20.
In a meeting with indigenous representatives, the Peruvian delegation informed that their government has made an agreement with AIDESEP and COICA (indigenous umbrella organisations for the Peruvian Amazon and the whole Amazon respectively) to organise an “Indigenous Pavilion” at the official venue during the COP, and an indigenous peoples’ preparatory conference on 28-30 November 2014 in Lima. To coordinate the efforts, Peru has designated a specific position to liaison with indigenous peoples.
They also informed that they were currently discussing with the indigenous movement and the Peruvian Ministry of Culture to possibly organise a pre-COP dialogue meeting between indigenous representatives and governments in October 2014. Funding for this last event has however not yet been secured.
“The indigenous caucus especially welcomed the initiative to organise a dialogue meeting, which they found should build on the model from the Xcaret meeting between indigenous peoples and friendly states held prior to the COP 16 in Cancun”, says Rodion Sulyandziga who was chairing the indigenous caucus during the Bonn meeting.
“The Xcaret meeting was decisive for the positive outcomes from Cancun, where indigenous peoples’ rights were included into the REDD safeguards”, he says and expresses hope that this initiative will be backed up by other governments as well.
Lima discussions will be crucial for indigenous peoples
The COP 20 will especially focus on getting closer to agreeing on a new binding agreement on emission reductions. The discussion will also focus on land-use, agriculture and REDD+, which are all important to indigenous peoples’ rights and livelihood.
Indigenous peoples are on the frontline of climate change as they live in some of the most fragile ecosystems in the world. They are also the traditional owners of the forests and lands that are being targeted for both mitigation and adaptation measures in the UN Climate Change discussions. It is often their forest that is set aside for conservation projects, and it is their lands, which are expropriated for climate-smart agriculture and clean development projects such as hydroelectric dams and geothermal power plants.
As recognised by the COP 19 in Warsaw last year, indigenous peoples also have valuable traditional knowledge, which can positively contribute to finding sustainable solutions for adaptation to climate change.
COP 20, an opportunity to showcase indigenous concerns
Peru has a large indigenous population and the COP in Lima will see a large indigenous presence. Besides the indigenous pavilion within the official venue, where COICA will be hosting a full program of presentations, dialogue meetings, side events etc organised by local indigenous organisations and the International Indigenous Peoples Forum on Climate Change, various other events are expected to be organised to showcase indigenous peoples’ issues and culture.
Civil society organisations will be organising an alternative venue, the so-called ‘climate fair’, where many indigenous NGOs and organisations working on indigenous issues will be present.
The Indigenous Caucus
During the Climate Change negotiations, the attending indigenous representatives convene as an indigenous caucus every morning to take stock of the results of the negotiations the day before, share information about government positions, and to plan and strategise for joint advocacy. The caucus meeting is also a forum for inviting government delegations to share their views and positions with indigenous peoples.
The indigenous caucus is an ad hoc institution open to all those indigenous representatives participating in the meeting. At this intersession meeting in Bonn, around 40 indigenous representatives from among other countries Peru, Colombia, Brazil, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, the US, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, Nepal, Vietnam, Tanzania, Kenya, DRC, and Russia formed the Caucus.