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What Indigenous people stand to lose by climate’solutions?
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What Indigenous people stand to lose by climate’solutions?


More than 100 nations participated in the Glasgow climate summit’s first major deal. pledged to endDeforestation must be reversed by 2030. As the declaration states, forests store vast amounts of carbon dioxide and are essential to stop global warming beyond 1.5℃ this century.

This new pledge is an example of so-called “nature-based solutions” – using ecosystem restoration and protection, better forest management and forest plantations to tackle climate change. Research suggests, if done appropriately, they could provide 30–40% of the CO₂ reductions required by 2030.

These approaches should not be used to negate the need to end burning fossil fuels. There’s also a glaring omission in the new declaration: no mention of the need for Indigenous people to give our/their prior informed consent, or be the decision makers on our/their own land.

This is important because some nature-based solutions may be possible. negatively affectAll indigenous peoples around the globe. More than 250 networks, organisations, and movements have signed the agreement. new statement For nature-based solutions, calling them nature-based “dispossessions”, and a scam.

Indigenous people should have a place at the Glasgow table, and be able to make decisions about their lands. Indigenous people should be able to manage their own carbon projects. This is the best way forward. This is true self determination.

Disrupting livelihoods and cultures

Tentative rights for Indigenous peoples are managed or held by at least one of the following: 38 million square kilometres in 87 countriesAll inhabited continents. This represents over a quarter of the world’s land surface, intersecting about 40% of all land-based protected areas and ecologically intact landscapes.

Yet, disadvantages are still common. International carbon policies, such as nature-based climate systems, continue to make a difference in a variety of ways.

girl carries buckets of water from stream
Respect should be given to the rights of Indigenous Peoples to their land.

Examples abound. For example, there is the REDD+ Program, which is managed under the auspices United Nations. It aims at reducing emissions from deforestation, forest degradation, and sustainable management of forests to increase carbon stock.

A review in 2018 revealed how REDD+ projects disrupted local peoples’ livelihoods and culture in various ways. These were the most serious effects:

  • Reduced availability of agricultural land can lead to food insecurity.

  • Land is at risk from shifting land tenure and forest management to outside companies

  • Inequitable consent processes that exclude all people who are affected by projects

  • The clearing of forest to make space for monoculture plantations with higher carbon stores

  • There are limited formal frameworks that can be used to preserve local livelihoods and biodiversity.

Read more:
‘The pigs can smell man’: how decimation of Borneo’s ancient rainforests threatens hunters and the hunted

woman carries slender logs
Many climate models based on nature often neglect to include the views of Indigenous people.

Indigenous people must benefit

Less than 1%Climate finance from developed countries supports Indigenous and local community tenure security, and forest management.

But research suggestsSecuring the rights of Indigenous Peoples to their/their homelands will help conserve more carbon in the territories we/their control. Indigenous people manage the land tends to haveLands managed by non-Indigenous People have lower deforestation rates and store more carbon.

Below a best-case scenarioFirst Nations land ownership would be recognized by law. Projects should be designedTo acknowledge Indigenous participation in the decision-making process. The practices should be based on both western science and Indigenous science.

If nature-based solutions will be proposed, land tenure issues should be resolved and Indigenous rights should be respected. These are the conditions that will lead to both climate and Indigenous benefits.

The Aboriginal Carbon FoundationAustralia is home to excellent exampleThis is an example of such a program. It involves northern Australia’s savanna fire management programs to reduce the severity and frequency of dry season fires. This reduces greenhouse gas emissions and increases carbon storage in dead organic matter.

Traditional Owners create core benefits that are later validated. These benefits include:

  • Improved social ties among community members work togetherOn projects that use a peer-to–peer framework

  • Elders share their traditional ecological knowledge and wisdom with young people

  • Indigenous-led land management that protects environment, rock art, sacred sites and other natural resources

  • Meaningful employment that aligns with Traditional Owners’ values and interests

  • Indigenous people are more proud and have higher self-esteem.

Continue reading:
Indigenous expertise is reducing bushfires in northern Australia. It’s time to consider similar approaches for other disasters

ring of fire surrounds tree
Savanna fire management programs in northern Australia have been shown to reduce dry season fires.

The real culprit

Climate change solutions can make Indigenous people more vulnerable than they realize. Traditional Owners often liveOn lands directly affected or unable to provide the necessary social and economic infrastructure. resilience to respondThese changes are to be welcomed.

This is why Indigenous peoples should be at the center of decisions about climate change and solutions.

Recognizing this need is important slowly growing. But more needs to be done – including enshrining the rights of Indigenous people in Paris Agreement rules governing carbon trading.

Continue reading:
Why UNESCO’s ‘nature based solutions’ to water problems won’t work in Africa

man in traditional Brazilian head-dress
Securing Indigenous People’s rights to their homelands will help conserve more carbon in the territories they control.

What’s more, the high cost of global travel and accommodation and restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic hindersThe attendance of First Nations leaders to international talks.

A Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples PlatformThis was done at COP21 Paris. It remains to see if this will impact negotiations at COP26.

While nature-based solutions may be a good way to reduce human-caused emissions in some cases, they can also pose a danger. The real culpabilityThe main culprit for climate change is countries and regions that consume large amounts fossil fuels.

First Nations people should not have to shoulder the climate action burden. Instead, world leaders must prioritise reducing CO₂ emissions at their source.

They must also recognize the rights and interests Indigenous peoples and ensure that climate solutions are determined on our/their land by Traditional Owners.

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