The International Indigenous Peoples Forum on Climate, representing indigenous peoples at the Asia Pacific Climate Week 2023 in Malaysia, emphasized that indigenous peoples should be treated as “key partners” in climate change dialogue, not merely beneficiaries.
Indigenous peoples have long been marginalized in climate discussions and excluded in decision making processes, even if they safeguard 80 percent of the world’s biodiversity and hold many of the solutions to the climate crisis. Despite comprising less than 5 percent of the global population, they are widely regarded as the best stewards of nature and their rich knowledge and experiences should be integrated into climate strategies.
“All climate decisions and actions must take into account priorities and needs of indigenous peoples, giving special emphasis on the experience of indigenous women indigenous youth and children, persons with disabilities, and our gender-diverse relatives,” the IIFPCC said in a statement.
“The contributions of our traditional knowledge in adaptation, mitigation, and even in responding to loss and damage must be recognized and supported,” the organization added.
The IIPFCC demanded that the discussion for funds for loss and damage from climate change impacts should ensure the full participation of indigenous peoples and operationalize a program from direct access financing.
Asian indigenous peoples said that negotiations on the Global Goal on Adaptation must ethically and equitably involve indigenous knowledge and sciences to prevent maladaptation – or when climate change adaptation efforts backfire and achieve the opposite of the intended effects – and violation of their rights.
They also urged governments to ensure that transition to clean energy does not recreate the removal, dispossession, and criminalization that they have faced in the current energy system.
The IIPFCC also urged governments in Asia and the Pacific to protect all environmental, human, and indigenous rights defenders who are targeted and criminalized for fighting for their rights to their lands and resources, as well as a review of initiatives purported as climate solutions.
As the deadliest country in Asia for individuals defending their land, the Philippines has a lot to unpack from these demands and appeals of the indigenous peoples. Perhaps the international spotlight being shown on these concerns can help our government consider policies and strategies that are friendlier and more considerate of the needs of the country’s many indigenous peoples who deserve better support from their own government.*