Quantcast

Indigenous Communities Gain Environmental Victory at COP23

Climate

Indigenous communities claimed a victory at COP23 in Bonn Wednesday, as governments acknowledged their leadership role in protecting forests and containing climate change.

Despite comprising 370 million of the world's population and having communal ownership of more than 20 percent of the world's tropical forest carbon, indigenous groups were sidelined at past international climate talks. Often forced to defend their land against the encroachment of agribusiness, loggers and oil corporations, indigenous peoples have long sought international recognition of their rights, autonomy and participation in negotiations.


Emphasizing their new, internationally enshrined role, Emmanuel Macron, the French president, met with indigenous representatives. The new international procedures working in their support oblige governments abiding by the framework to talk to indigenous communities when they go to the drawing board over carbon emissions. Experts are cautious, however, about the effectiveness that the new procedures bring in terms of including indigenous voices in mainstream debates.

"This is an important step forward but only if it really does mean that indigenous and local communities are listened to and their knowledge recognized," Clare Shakya of the International Institute for Environment and Development told the Guardian.

The 2015 Paris accord established a "platform for the exchange of experience and sharing of best practices on mitigation and adaptation in a holistic and integrated manner." The document approved in Bonn, however, goes beyond that, saying that countries "should, when taking action to address climate change, respect, promote and consider their respective obligations on the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities."

Since 2015, 132 environmentalists have been killed in Brazil alone, most of whom were working against illegal logging in the Amazon. Many of the victims belonged to indigenous communities. An average of four environmental defenders are killed each week around the globe.

In 2016, a study by the Rights and Resources Initiative found that expanding tribal land rights is the most cost-effective measure to protect forests and sequester carbon. The paper also encouraged governments to recognize tribal land rights and bring tribal input into the fold of national action plans.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Doctors report that only 1 in 4 children are getting the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity per day. Ronnie Kaufman / DigitalVision / Getty Images

By Dan Gray

Pediatricians are being urged to start writing "exercise prescriptions" for the children they see in their office.

Read More
A First Nations protester walks in front of a train blockade in Tyendinaga, near Belleville, Ontario, Canada on Feb. 21, 2020. LARS HAGBERG / AFP via Getty Images

An indigenous rail blockade that snarled train travel in Canada for more than two weeks came to an end Monday when police moved in to clear protesters acting in solidarity with another indigenous community in British Columbia (B.C.), which is fighting to keep a natural gas pipeline off its land.

Read More
Sponsored
A rainbow snake, a rare reptile spotted in a Florida county for the first time in more than 50 years, seen here on July 5, 2013. Kevin Enge / FWC Fish and Wildlife Research Institute / Flickr

A Florida hiker recently stumbled across a slithering surprise — a rare snake that hadn't been spotted in the area for more than 50 years.

Read More
We need our government to do everything it can to stop PFAS contamination and exposure from wreaking havoc in communities across the country. LuAnn Hun / Unsplash

By Genna Reed

The EPA announced last week that it is issuing a preliminary regulatory determination for public comment to set an enforceable drinking water standard to two of the most common and well-studied PFAS, PFOA and PFOS.

This decision is based on three criteria:

  1. PFOA and PFOS have an adverse effect on public health
  2. PFOA and PFOS occur in drinking water often enough and at levels of public health concern;
  3. regulation of PFOA and PFOS is a meaningful opportunity for reducing the health risk to those served by public water systems.
Read More
Charging EVs in Stockholm: But where does a dead battery go? Ranjithsiji / Wikimedia Commons

By Kieran Cooke

Driving an electric-powered vehicle (EV) rather than one reliant on fossil fuels is a key way to tackle climate change and improve air quality — but it does leave the old batteries behind as a nasty residue.

Read More