Briefing Paper on Indigenous Peoples And Climate Change

Indigenous Peoples And Climate Change

UNFCCC Intersessional Meeting, Bangkok 2009, Briefing Paper

Indigenous peoples depend on natural resources for their livelihood and they often inhabit diverse but fragile ecosystems. At the same time indigenous peoples are among the world’s most marginalized, impoverished and vulnerable peoples. While having hardly contributed anything to the cause of global warming, they are among the most heavily affected. However, they have minimal access to resources to cope with the changes.

For many indigenous peoples, climate change is already a reality. Melting ice sheets in the Arctic makes hunting sea mammals and fishing difficult and risky, erratic rainfalls reduce productivity of fields and pastures, storms and floods destroy crops and homes. While indigenous peoples’ diverse and resilient livelihood systems have enabled them to survive in often harsh and forbidding environments, the speed by which climate is changing is putting to the test the abilities of indigenous communities to adapt. Climate change however not only puts indigenous livelihood systems under stress, it also undermines indigenous human rights. For long it has been overlooked that climate change and the mitigation and adaptation schemes devised by governments and international organisations are often directly violating the rights of indigenous peoples. Furthermore, little attention has been paid to the potentially invaluable contributions of indigenous peoples’ traditional knowledge, innovations and practices in the global search for viable solutions for the many problems caused by climate change.

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