22 June, 2017

Indigenous peoples need to engage the Green Climate Fund

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5 February (Bangkok) - Indigenous peoples have to be engaged in the Green Climate Fund.

So says Kimaren Ole Riamit, an indigenous Maasai from Kenya during a workshop on a proposed indigenous peoples' policy (IP policy), safeguards, and redress mechanism for the Green Climate Fund (GCF) currently being held in Bangkok, Thailand.

This is because projects being funded by the GCF (or in the pipeline) have the potential to impact indigenous peoples, according to Ole Riamit. Thus, indigenous peoples' voices must be heard in decisions that may affect them.

According to Grace Balawag of Tebtebba, indigenous peoples have had a long experience with projects that have come into their communities without their approval and engagement. This has resulted to their displacement, violation of their rights and destruction of their livelihoods.

Projects approved by the GCF so far range from reforestation, renewable energy to building climate-proof infrastructure. Some of the projects cover indigenous peoples' communities. 

These projects, aimed at reducing the impacts of climate change or enhancing capacity to adapt to climactic changes, are to be funded by the GCF, a global fund established under the climate change convention (UNFCCC).

For indigenous peoples attending the 2-day workshop, these projects need to recognize and respect their rights, specially when projects are to be implemented in their communities. 

Their free, prior and informed consent must be obtained and respected by these projects, according to Asian indigenous leader Joan Carling.

These, according to the indigenous participants, are among the elements of an IP policy that should guide the GCF, as well as of the GCF's safeguards and redress mechanism.

Participants also reiterated that indigenous peoples are contributing to climate adaptation and mitigation through their traditional knowledge and low-carbon practices and sustainable livelihoods, and the IP policy is an important platform to highlight and support these positive contributions.

In fact, a well-crafted IP policy can support the attainment of the GCF’s objectives, Carling added.
The GCF has set into motion a process to establish an indigenous peoples' policy in 2017. 

An Indigenous Peoples' Advocacy Team for the GCF, spearheaded by Tebtebba and composed of ILEPA (Indigenous Livelihood Enhancement Partners) of Kenya, CADPI (Centro para la Autonomía y Desarollo de los Pueblos Indígenas) of Nicaragua, with support from advocates and NGOs, has consistently participated in the GCF Board meetings to work for the recognition of indigenous peoples' concerns.

These concerns also cover effective participation of indigenous peoples in both global and national implementation of climate-funded projects and mechanisms, as well as ensuring direct support for indigenous peoples' local climate initiatives.

The 2-day workshop, organized by Tebtebba, is participated in by indigenous partners belonging to the Indigenous Peoples' Global Partnership on Climate Change, Forests and Sustainable Development, a partnership composed of 18 indigenous peoples' organizations and NGOs from 13 countries from Latin America, Africa and Asia. (Raymond de Chavez - Tebtebba Indigenous Information Service)