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31 july 2019

Guaranteeing indigenous peoples’ right to autonomy contributes to climate solutions

The Global Landscape Forum (GLF*) is preparing a framework document that should help indigenous people better protect their territories. These areas represent a vast forest capital that plays an essential role in regulating the earth’s climate. This document will be presented at the next COP 25** in Chile.

25% of global CO2 emissions can be attributed to human land management, primarily agriculture and livestock farming, while the ongoing conversion of forest into farming land or plantations worldwide is aggravating the man-made greenhouse effect. Deforestation is especially raging in tropical regions, where the majority of indigenous peoples’ territories are found***. These territories mostly consist of large forests and still cover 40% of the planet. They are all carbon sinks that are indispensable in regulating the global greenhouse effect.
As such, guaranteeing that these peoples can continue to use their land in line with their ancestral know-how remains a priority for the GLF: “When local communities have authority over their forests and land, and their rights are legally recognized, deforestation and forest degradation rates are often reduced,” states Director General of the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), Robert Nasi.
On June 22 and 23 in Bonn (Germany) as part of preparatory meetings for COP 25, the GLF therefore proposed a framework document — the Gold Standard on Indigenous Rights. The aim is no longer to make additional laws to protect these communities but to guarantee their land rights by effectively applying the current laws.
This document, which is currently being drafted, was initiated by 600 delegates from 83 countries, who had traveled to Bonn for the occasion. It will be finalized in Ghana in late October as part of a second international meeting, then presented to the 25th United Nations (UN) Climate Change Conference, which will be held from December 2 to 13 in Chile.
*The Global Landscape Forum is an international platform created in 2013 dedicated to sustainable land use within the framework of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Agreement (COP21). To date, it brings together 4,400 organizations and is led by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).
** 25th Conference of Parties, (COP 25).
***According to CIFOR, these peoples represent 6% of the world’s population. Present in 90 countries, they offer a strong cultural capital: 5,000 indigenous cultures with 6,700 languages still spoken nowadays.