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Indigenous peoples, the guardians of the world’s most pristine ecosystems, possess a wealth of traditional knowledge that holds the key to combating climate change. As we face the urgency of the climate crisis, it becomes increasingly crucial to recognize the invaluable role that Indigenous communities play in climate action. Their sustainable practices, deep connection to the environment, and unique perspectives make them essential allies in preserving our planet for future generations.
Indigenous peoples continue to rank among the poorest of the poor, according to global policy discussions and a growing body of evidence, and they are also particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change.
The Paris Agreement on climate change and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development were both adopted in 2015, marking a significant victory for the international community. These two instruments are anticipated to spur significant efforts on the part of nations around the world to review and strengthen their strategies, plans, and programs in order to achieve inclusive and sustainable development for all. In this article, we will explore the connection between indigenous people and climate action in detail.
Native Americans and tribal peoples are not subject to a single, universal definition. The Convention provides a realistic and inclusive method for identification that also acknowledges self-identification as a basic criterion, using the words “indigenous” and “tribal” peoples and offering both groups the same set of rights. The term “indigenous peoples” is adopted in the current study for convenience as it is now often used to refer to these communities internationally.
It is crucial to emphasize that indigenous peoples face different dangers from other societal groups, such as the impoverished, when it comes to climate change. This is so because indigenous peoples have six traits in common that, taken together, are unique to that group. As a result, they are particularly susceptible to the direct effects of climate change, the effects of environmental devastation that causes climate change, and the effects of mitigation and adaptation strategies.
Indigenous peoples are vital partners and essential change agents for accomplishing effective climate action, sustainable development, and green growth. They are not only “victims” or “subjects of development.”
The success of climate action certainly depends on the participation of indigenous peoples, but a number of barriers still stand in the way of their reaching their full potential. In order to achieve a just transition, reach the Sustainable Development Goals, and address the dangers of climate change, it is crucial first to overcome these hurdles.
By engaging indigenous peoples in broad social protection programs as well as by carrying out more specific programs, the susceptibility of indigenous peoples to social, economic, and environmental shocks can be greatly decreased. Payment for programs that specifically target environmental services can help with climate change adaptation and mitigation. Communities with strong social protection may take more risks and invest in their own productive capacity, increasing their ability for innovation and entrepreneurship, two key elements of green growth.
Strong processes for consultation and participation are necessary to enable meaningful engagement at all levels of decision-making, notably in relation to national development plans and climate action, and to protect indigenous peoples’ rights. Additionally, this calls for the creation of public policies with the input of indigenous peoples, particularly indigenous women, and youth, in order to address their unique social and economic vulnerabilities and provide them with the chance to pursue their own development objectives. It is critical to establish efficient national consultative processes.
To combat the serious challenges that climate change poses, policy cooperation is crucial. This calls for more cooperation across national agencies with jurisdiction over these diverse fields, as well as enhanced involvement across policies and regimes with regard to development, labour, and human rights norms. Strong climate action must be designed and implemented through international, national, regional, and local collaboration, with REDD+ playing a significant role that is especially important for indigenous people and climate action.
Also Read: SDGs: Making Sustainability Viable