Indigenous peoples and local communities administer half of the earth in the world and take care of the 80% of the planet’s biodiversity. Despite this, a study recent it showed that they received less than 1% of the funding that is dedicated globally to reduce deforestation. A historic new agreement reached today at the Glasgow Climate Summit puts Indigenous peoples back at the center of the conversation and relaunches their role as guardians of the forests.
To make this possible, the UK, Norway, Germany, the US, the Netherlands and 17 US donors have pledged to support indigenous peoples with 1,470 million euros (1,700 in dollars) from now until 2025 in their role as protectors of the territory and allies in the fight against climate change. This money will be dedicated to consolidating concrete activities of the communities for their protection and development, to strengthen their structures, as well as for the mapping of their lands, the registration of properties, among other purposes.
“This recognition signals our commitment to protecting the world’s tropical forests and those who live in them,” said Lord Goldsmith, UK Minister for the Pacific and the Environment. “The evidence that indigenous peoples and local communities are the most effective gatekeepers is overwhelming. Investing in them and in their communal rights, we are also going to face poverty, pollution and pandemics ”, he added.
By investing in them and in their communal rights, we will also tackle poverty, pollution and pandemics
Lord Goldsmith, UK Minister for the Pacific and the Environment
COP26 is not the first international event in which indigenous communities have consolidated themselves as one more voice in decisive conversations. Last September the native peoples had a special role in the World Conservation Congress, organized by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The Coordinator of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon Basin (Coica), which brings together 3.5 million indigenous people from nine countries, presented the statement Green Amazon: 80×25 ―An initiative that was finally approved as motion 129 of the assembly – calling for the protection of 80% of the Amazon basin by 2025.
17% of the Amazon rainforest has already been devastated due to the exploitation of oil and minerals, pollution and deforestation to favor agriculture and livestock, warned Gregorio Díaz Mirabal, leader of Coica, upon his arrival last Saturday to COP26. “We need to establish an economy that values all forms of life, that supports indigenous peoples and keeps the forest standing,” Díaz insisted.
More investment, better protection
The world is left without trees and therefore without oxygen. According to a new report published last October, since 2014 the annual rate of tree cover loss has increased by 40%, reaching almost 26 million hectares, an area the size of the UK. Tropical forests have suffered the greatest impact, accounting for 90% of all loss. In turn, these same territories make up 30% of the carbon that is needed to achieve the objectives of the Paris Agreement, that is, to limit global warming by 1.5 degrees.
“We have the best carbon capture technology our planet has to offer, our forests,” says Tuntiak Katan, a Shuar from Ecuador and an indigenous leader representing the Global Alliance of Territorial Communities, which brings together elected leaders from the world’s largest expanses of forests in Indonesia, Africa and Latin America and represents 35 million forest communities. “Work to protect the future of the planet will only be successful in partnership with indigenous peoples and local communities. We want to work with you to transform this world. We are the solution you are looking for ”.
The funding comes after 233 million euros per year have been devoted to forest protection for years, of which only 39 million euros went to indigenous peoples and local communities. With today’s announcement in Glasgow, the governments and donors involved claim to be taking a first step towards correcting “an unfair system” that has failed to favor communities that have the knowledge and capacity to be the best. stewards of nature.
“Indigenous peoples have been excluded, marginalized from the conversation, from policymaking, while they are the closest to the challenge posed by climate change and those who know it most closely,” explains Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation, one of the donor organizations, which will contribute 86 million euros to the total amount. “Today we hope that, for the first time, their voice will be heard, because they have always had it, but the governments were not willing to validate it. It would be the best way to regain his dignity, “adds Walker.
“We intend to continue this funding in the years to come, increasing the money as ambitious programs and proposals are presented. We also ask other donors to considerably increase their support for this important program ”, claim the signatories in the statement published today, on the occasion of the economic agreement reached at COP26.
Land ownership, key to its preservation
Another barrier that prevents indigenous peoples from becoming the best guarantors in the fight against climate change is land tenure. Approximately half of it in the world is community, although some estimates place that figure at 65% or more.
This common territory system supports more than 2 billion people – almost a quarter of the world’s population -, including 370 and 500 million indigenous. However, only the 10% of the land in the world is recognized by national laws as belonging to indigenous peoples and local communities and even less is found formally registered with a title or certificate of ownership. As a result, it is increasingly threatened by companies and investors struggling to acquire acres for industrial agriculture investment and production purposes and / or for illegal activities such as logging, mining and hunting.
Only 10% of the land in the world is recognized as belonging to indigenous peoples and local communities
But the indigenous peoples’ battle for their property comes from afar. In 2017 in Stockholm the International Fund for Land and Forest Tenure, the first global institution to be dedicated to streamlining procedures for communities to gain ownership of their lands and forests. By the end of 2020 the organization was able to map and manage the property on more than 14.2 million hectares.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.