Pro­tect­ing indige­nous peo­ple ‘helps cli­mate bat­tle’

The Guardian Weekly - - International news - Matthew Tay­lor

Global lead­ers must do more to pro­tect indige­nous peo­ple fight­ing to pro­tect their land and way of life if the world is to limit cli­mate change, ac­cord­ing to UN spe­cial rap­por­teur Vic­to­ria Tauli-Cor­puz.

Speak­ing ahead of cli­mate talks in Bonn next month, she urged politi­cians to recog­nise that indige­nous com­mu­ni­ties were the most ef­fec­tive cus­to­di­ans of mil­lions of hectares of for­est that are “the world’s lungs”.

She said: “Indige­nous peo­ple’s rights need to be pro­tected in the best way pos­si­ble, not just for them but be­cause they are also able to pro­vide so­lu­tions to many of the world’s prob­lems from cli­mate change to bi­o­log­i­cal di­ver­sity. It is in the self-in­ter­est of states and even cor­po­ra­tions, in the medium and long term, to pro­tect and lis­ten to th­ese peo­ple – the ques­tion is, will they re­alise this in time?”

A re­cent study found that a quar­ter of the car­bon stored above ground in trop­i­cal forests is found in the col­lec­tively man­aged ter­ri­to­ries of indige­nous peo­ples and lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties.

In Brazil, de­for­esta­tion in indige­nous com­mu­nity forests from 2000 to 2012 was less than 1%, com­pared with 7% out­side those ar­eas.

Indige­nous peo­ple are locked in fierce con­flicts with min­ing, log­ging and agri­cul­tural com­pa­nies and their se­cu­rity firms from In­done­sia to Brazil. Last year was the dead­li­est on record for land rights de­fend­ers, with about 200 peo­ple killed in con­flicts in Latin Amer­ica, Africa and Asia.

Tauli-Cor­puz spoke in Stockholm at the launch of the In­ter­na­tional Land and For­est Ten­ure Fa­cil­ity, which aims to help com­mu­ni­ties pro­tect their land re­sources as well as fight cli­mate change. It is funded by Swe­den, Nor­way and the Ford Foun­da­tion, a US char­ity. The project aims to boost for­est land ti­tled to indige­nous peo­ples by 40m hectares within a decade. Or­gan­is­ers say this would pre­vent de­for­esta­tion of 1m hectares and re­lease 500m tonnes of CO2.

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