Looking ahead to IPLC engagement in the GCF, and reflecting on IPLC engagement in the UNFCCC

By Kimaren Ole Riamit

The Dedicated Grant Mechanism for Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities (DGM) of the Forest Investment Program (FIP) hosted its first Global Learning and Knowledge Exchange workshop in Marrakech, Morocco, on the sidelines of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference, COP22.  The FIP-DGM is one of the Climate Investment Funds implemented by the World Bank Group. 

Kimaren Ole Riamit facilitated a session on IPLC engagement in the GCF at the DGM Global Exchange in Marrakech.

Kimaren Ole Riamit facilitated a session on IPLC engagement in the GCF at the DGM Global Exchange in Marrakech.

The workshop brought together a rich and diverse array of actors drawn from 15 countries comprising of leaders and representatives of Indigenous Peoples and local communities (IPLCs) from FIP/DGM beneficiary countries, members of the DGM Global Steering Committee (GSC) and National and Global Executing Agencies of the DGM.

Overall, the three-day sharing provided an overview of the DGM, and the UNFCCC framework of negotiations, focusing on the outcomes of the Paris Agreement.  The role of the Green Climate Fund (GCF) was highlighted in an analysis of the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) and the landscape of climate change finance more generally, exploring emerging opportunities and challenges for IPLCs.

The UNFCCC framework of negotiations is a complex space with a multiplicity of actors, possessing differential power and influence, pursuing overlapping, competing and often conflicting interests, enacted within highly technical processes and themes. Enhancing the knowledge and technical capacity of IPLCs to effectively engage in these processes, and strengthening their networking potential is critical. Understanding how IPLCs as a constituency are organized and coordinated under the International Indigenous Peoples Forum on Climate Change (IIPFCC) to both influence the negotiations and provide forward and backward linkages from the global, regional and national levels was equally invaluable.

One of the major decisions of the Paris Agreement is the Nationally Determined Contributions; countries’ domestic commitments for climate actions related to mitigation and adaptation are to be undertaken post-2020 to respond to the global emission reduction ambition challenge and the need for fair share of contribution by all State Parties. The five-yearly NDCs reports submitted to the UNFCCC Secretariat and reviewed under the “Global Stock-take” arrangement include information relating to agriculture, forestry and other land uses.  Increasingly, national REDD+ programme outcomes are also feeding into the NDC reports. Despite the very strong relationship between IPLCs’ livelihoods systems and the sectors targeted by the NDCs reports, very few of the more than 192 NDCs submitted make reference to IPLCs. Hence the urgent need to lobby for enhanced recognition of IPLCs’ rights and their full and effective participation in the development of NDCs.

The Paris Agreement, and Decision 135 in particular, has provided for the recognition and respect for human rights, including the rights of Indigenous Peoples; underscored the value of IPs’ knowledge systems in climate change mitigation and adaptation, and has called for establishment of an IPs’ Platform for knowledge exchange. In addition, other UNFCCC COP decisions (Cancun and Warsaw) had also provided for safeguards and community based monitoring for IPLCs. The main and immediate challenge remains, moving from mere recognition of IPLCs’ rights in text to actual implementation and respect for such rights.

The track record for meeting this challenge is not good.  The history of development practice is one littered with untold stories of exclusion, exploitation, marginalization and entrenchment of inequality. The inequality relates to privileging of certain knowledge systems and worldviews, livelihoods systems, and rights, often at the expense of others. The present state of the IPLCs of the world is a product of such flowed development pathways.

How has international climate change finance—specifically the GCF—departed from this negative history of exclusion? Overall, global climate finance from both public and private sectors is growing, reaching at least $391 billion in 2014, with a significant portion (93%) of these resources utilized in mitigation efforts, leaving less than 10% for adaptation related interventions.  And, while there is a noted positive trend towards enhancing direct access of climate-related financing by IPLCs, the GCF commitments are still negligible.

While the GCF aspires to be a new, transformational and paradigm shifting development pathway, reference to IPs only appears twice in its current policy documents. Once, in the governing instrument and once, within its interim safeguard standards. Furthermore, contrary to emerging good practices of direct representation of IPLCs in decision-making arrangements, direct access to financial resources, establishment of stand-alone policy and FPIC as an instrument to facilitate engagement, the GCF has yet to consider and adopt such good practices. With respect to engagement with and safeguarding the rights of IPLCs, the GCF could be said to be below ‘business as usual’.

The DGM might serve as an important example for the GCF, whose Board will begin its final meeting of the year [tomorrow].  The DGM is welcomed by IPLCs as a unique and innovative model for engaging with and empowering forest dependent indigenous peoples and local communities for which other Climate financing entities could borrow a leaf. The Dedicated Grant Mechanism puts IPLCs on the driver’s seat in terms of access to climate funding grants and decision-making related to interventions supported through the grants. The FIP-DGM is growing in both portfolio size and countries reached, with $80 million allocated for 14 FIP countries; however this is only a first step to meeting financial resources needed by IPLCs to adapt and mitigate climate change within their territories.

Given this reality, Indigenous Peoples are calling for the GCF to enhance complementarity, coherence and additionality with respect to UNFCCC COP decisions, international good practices such as the DGM, and to go beyond the ‘business as usual’ scenario in dealing with IPLCs’ rights and concerns. Specifically, the GCF should develop and adopt an Indigenous Peoples Policy* to be enabled through clear consultative arrangement that incorporates: i) an Indigenous Peoples’ Advisory Group to the GCF, ii) a Focal Point on Indigenous Peoples issues within the GCF Secretariat, iii) a dedicated active Observer for IPs to the GCF board and iv) a dedicated grant facility within the GCF for IPLCs.

*Editor's note: After this blog was published, the GCF Board voted to have an indigenous peoples policy.

Kimaren Ole Riamit is the Executive Director of Indigenous Livelihoods Enhancement Partners (ILEPA), based in Kenya. He facilitated a session on IPLC engagement in the GCF at the DGM Global Exchange in Marrakech.


The views expressed in this blog are exclusively those of the author.