International News  /  COP26 Strengthens Role of Indigenous Experts and Stewardship of Nature

COP26 Strengthens Role of Indigenous Experts and Stewardship of Nature

  • Date: 2021-11-23
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UN Climate Change News, 23 November 2021 – At the UN Climate Change Conference COP26 in Glasgow in November, direct and unprecedented engagement between indigenous peoples, local communities and governments helped unlock sustainable and resilient ways to achieve the Paris Agreement commitments and reverse biodiversity decline. For the first time in the history of the UNFCCC, twenty-eight indigenous peoples were nominated from each of the seven UN indigenous socio-cultural regions, to engage directly as knowledge holders and share experiences as indigenous experts with governments.

Indigenous peoples and local communities have knowledge and values oriented towards nature and amassed through generations. Indigenous peoples steward over 80% of the planet’s remaining biodiversity.

In their main decision adopted at the end of the meeting, governments recognized “the important role of civil society, including youth and indigenous peoples, in addressing and responding to climate change, and highlighting the urgent need for action”.

Rodion Sulyandziga, member of the UNFCCC’s Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Platform Facilitative Working Group, said: “This is a strong achievement and historic progress under the UNFCCC, to bring the indigenous knowledge holders to the table to voice solutions and humanize the impacts of climate change.”

Governments recognized “the global interlinked crises of climate change and biodiversity loss, and the critical role of nature-based solutions and ecosystem-based approaches in delivering benefits for climate adaptation and mitigation”.

The decision further recognized “the importance of protecting, conserving and restoring ecosystems to deliver crucial services, including acting as net carbon sinks, reducing vulnerability to climate change impacts and supporting sustainable livelihoods, including for indigenous peoples and local communities” and emphasized the important role that indigenous peoples knowledge and experience can play in effective action on climate change, and urged “Parties to actively involve indigenous peoples in implementing climate action and to engage with the second three-year workplan of the Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Platform for 2022–2024”.

These decisions mark a reorientation of policy towards nature to stabilize the global climate system, through engaging with the expertise of indigenous peoples, local communities and their diverse knowledge systems.

Dr. Victoria Qutuuq Buschman, an Inuit knowledge holder from the Arctic, stated: “Indigenous communities are actively engaged in managing and caring for our communities.” She added: “This sustainable management of biodiversity will be passed on to our young people, who will be doing this for a very long time.”

Jhanira Dorisa Sensu Tunki, a Shuar knowledge holder from Ecuador, also echoed the importance of indigenous knowledge in meeting the Paris Agreement goals. She explained: "Indigenous knowledge is very important, the Paris Agreement and the Convention of Biodiversity have shown us the importance of diverse knowledge systems to fight against climate change and preserve biodiversity."

The annual gathering of knowledge holders at COP26 also brought forward a new and important focus on perspectives of indigenous youth. Chris Honahnie, an indigenous youth knowledge holder from North America, echoed this, stating: “The voices of our indigenous youth needs be at the forefront of any climate change solutions and discussions on how we adapt to climate change.”

During COP 26 in Glasgow, Parties adopted the second three-year workplan of the LCIPP which mandates that these events under the LCIPP continue throughout the next three years. Following COP 26, the platform will continue this work in facilitating increased engagement of indigenous peoples and local communities in climate policy and action.

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Date:November 23, 2021