UNPFII Report Highlights Increased Vulnerability to Climate Change Among Indigenous Communities

18 January 2010: The UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) has released the State of the World's Indigenous Peoples' Report, which highlights that indigenous peoples are among the first to feel the impacts of climate change even though their lifestyles are practically carbon neutral.The publication is a cooperative effort of independent experts working with the Secretariat of the UNPFII. It provides disaggregated data that show that indigenous persons often suffer from inadequate nutrition, lack of productive resources, limited access to education and health care, and vulnerability to environmental pollution and climate change despite their carbon neutral lifestyles – particularly in the Arctic and Pacific islands. The report highlights that the future of indigenous peoples is closely linked to solutions to the biodiversity loss and climate change crises.

The report indicates that there are about 370 million indigenous peoples worldwide, comprising 5% of the world's population and one-third of the world's 900 million extremely poor rural people. Data show that indigenous peoples' life expectancy is up to 20 years lower than non-indigenous, and that indigenous communities have higher levels of maternal and infant mortality, malnutrition, malaria and tuberculosis, and other diseases.

On 14 January, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) organized a meeting with 16 indigenous representatives to prepare for the 20th anniversary of UNDP's flagship Human Development Report. The meeting discussed how the concept of human development could encompass issues related to self-determination, cultural preservation, identity and spirituality, as well as the close connection of environmental integrity and well-being of indigenous peoples. [UN Press Conference on State of the World's Indigenous Peoples' Report] [UNDP Press Release] [The Report]