UNPFII Considers Climate Change and Land Tenure Issues
29 May 2009: About 2,000 indigenous representatives, as well as representatives of member States, civil society, academia, some 35 UN entities and other intergovernmental organizations, participated in the eighth session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII), which convened from 18-29 May 2009, at UN Headquarters in New York, US.
The Forum considered a concept note, prepared by the special rapporteurs, on the preparation of the report on whether climate change policies and projects adhere to the standards set forth in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The Forum also considered the Special Rapporteurs' reports on climate change and land tenure and hosted a panel discussion with UN experts on the impacts of the financial and economic crisis on indigenous peoples.
Forum Chair Victoria Tauli-Corpuz called for a human rights-based approach to development, which integrates indigenous peoples' needs and solutions to redress the impacts of climate change. Tauli-Corpuz indicated that the economic crisis has led to an increase of infrastructure development expenditures, and cautioned against construction projects on traditional lands without indigenous peoples' free, prior and informed consent, which may lead to their displacement. Tauli-Corpuz noted linkages between the climate change and global economic crises and underlined that the policies and solutions to address them may: deepen the poverty of indigenous communities and their economic and food insecurity; threaten their traditional livelihoods; and decrease their access to social services.
The recommendations agreed by the UNPFII include a call on States and corporations to involve indigenous people in all negotiations relating to mining, infrastructure projects and other development schemes taking place on indigenous lands.
Various side events were held in parallel to the main session of the UNPFII, including an event on the UN-REDD Programme, Operational Guidance and Engagement of Indigenous Peoples, organized by the UN Development Programme (UNDP). The event presented the programme and operational guidance and discussed the challenges facing indigenous peoples in many countries. Forum delegates gave testimonies about their lives and how the UN-REDD Programme could affect them.
The UNPFII is an advisory body to the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) with a mandate to provide expert advice and recommendations on indigenous issues to ECOSOC as well as to UN Programmes, Funds and Agencies. [ Eighth Session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues] [UN Press Release, 27 May 2009] [UN Press Release, 29 May 2009] [UN-REDD Programme, Operational Guidance: Engagement of Indigenous Peoples]