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UN climate change negotiations fail indigenous peoples

15 December 2008

The UN climate change conference ended on December 12th in Poznan, Poland, with states turning a blind eye to Indigenous peoples’ call for a resolution to set up a mechanism to enable them to input into future negotiations.

Indigenous activists made the case at the conference that because they live in fragile ecosystems they are worst affected by climate change and therefore should be given a voice in future climate change negotiations. They have also expressed concern that climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies that states agree upon will be implemented on indigenous lands and territories without recognizing their rights and guaranteeing their participation.

The climate change negotiations ended on Friday with little overall progress. According to media reports governments agreed to a draft text on including deforestation targets in a new climate change deal expected to be reached by December 2009 in Copenhagen. Indigenous people have demanded a say in deforestation programmes arguing they constitute the largest number of forest dwellers across the world. Despite this the latest draft text only refers to the ‘full participation’ of indigenous people on projects aimed at reducing deforestation. Recognition of ‘indigenous rights’ was removed from the draft in the last minute on the objections of the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, media reports said.

Chairperson of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, speaking at a press conference on Thursday in Poznan, said indigenous people were shocked to see the draft text which excluded the reference to indigenous peoples rights. She also said the move was spearheaded by the same four countries that voted against the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).