UNPFII Considers Reports on Climate Change Policies

26 April 2010: The Ninth Session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) is taking place in New York, US, from 19-30 April 2010, around the theme “Development with Culture and Identity.” In his opening statement, Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary-General, underlined that indigenous cultures, languages and ways of life are under constant threat from climate change, armed conflict, lack of educational opportunities and discrimination.

On 26 April, the UNPFII considered emerging issues and matters related to its future work, and discussed how to change discriminatory policies and attitudes towards indigenous peoples that have generally ignored native peoples' vulnerability to climate change. Specifically, two reports on climate change were considered by the Forum, namely: a report on the extent to which climate change policies and projects adhere to the standards set forth in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (E/C.19/2010/7); and one on the impact of climate change adaptation and mitigation measures on reindeer herding (E/C.19/2010/15).

Participants noted that, despite reference to community engagement in the draft Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) agreement, indigenous peoples had not been adequately consulted during the drafting of the UNFCCC or the Kyoto Protocol. In this regard, participants noted that climate change norms could and should better support indigenous peoples' right to self-determination, including right to land, territories and resources.

On reindeer husbandry, participants noted that reindeer were the primary livestock in the Arctic and that climate change has affected all aspects of the traditional lifestyles and cultures of indigenous peoples living in these regions. In particular, pastures and grazing ranges have been under pressure from climate change, ecological degradation and human development by increased use of renewable resources such as windmills and hydroelectric dams. [UNPFII 9th Session Website] [UN Press Release on the Opening Session] [UN Press Release 26 April] [Document E/C.19/2010/7] [Document E/C.19/2010/15]