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UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues Makes Recommendations on Climate Change and Calls for UNFCCC Participation

2 May 2008: An estimated 2000 delegates gathered at UN headquarters in New York, US, from 21 April to 2 May, for the Seventh Session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNFPII) – a subsidiary body of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). The theme for the session was “Climate change, biocultural diversity and livelihoods: the stewardship roles of indigenous peoples and new challenges.” In its deliberations, the Forum noted that indigenous traditional ways of life have been threatened by climate change, that indigenous peoples continue to be the main custodians of knowledge and biodiversity and that indigenous peoples have largely been kept out of the international dialogue on climate change.

At the conclusion of its session, the Forum adopted a draft resolution on climate change, biocultural diversity and livelihoods (E/C.19/2008/L.2) in which it called on the international community to take measures to mitigate climate change and promote the participation of indigenous peoples in all negotiations on mitigation measures, and urged consideration of alternative systems beyond the usual mechanisms. Specifically, the text recommended that the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) develop mechanisms to facilitate indigenous participation in the upcoming negotiations for the post-2012 period. The text recommended the establishment of a working group under the UNFCCC on local adaptation measures and traditional knowledge. It called on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCCC) to undertake an assessment of threats and opportunities for indigenous peoples arising from mitigation and adaptation strategies.

The text was adopted after amendments to reflect the concerns of some indigenous groups about current emissions and deforestation measures. Some indigenous groups emphasized the need to respect their decision to not participate in the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility and other carbon funds, and noted that they did not support the framework for reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD). Forum Chair Victoria Tauli-Corpuz noted that a report on the measures being undertaken by indigenous peoples to tackle climate change, which could substantially contribute to the objectives of the UNFCCC, will be forwarded to the UNFCCC Secretariat.

A text on the implementation of Millennium Development Goals (E/C.19/2008/L.4) was also adopted with emphasis on the right to water, as a fundamental human right, and with a recommendation on the need to develop international standards for water's use, management and regulation. President of the General Assembly Srgjan Kerim said that indigenous peoples are “most directly affected by environmental degradation caused by climate change.”

The Fourm's outcomes will be transmitted to ECOSOC for adoption.

UN PFII http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/unpfii/en/session_seventh.html 

UN Press Release, 2 May 2008:

http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2008/hr4953.doc.htm