By Johnson Cerda
Originally featured on johnsonamazonia.blogspot.com
We can contribute with our science and knowledge.
While I was young and working with Confeniae - our regional organization of the Ecuadorian Amazon - many Indigenous Peoples leaders traveled to participate at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in 1992 in Rio de Janeiro. Our brother Mr. Marcus Terena made a statement on behalf of indigenous peoples and said “we offer our contribution with our science and wisdom, are you ready to hear us?“. Principle 22 of the Rio Declaration recognizes the importance of “indigenous people’s knowledge and traditional practices” and calls the governments to support it.
Long since the UNFCCC initiated its work in 1994, many indigenous leaders met in Quito Ecuador to analyze the impacts of climate change and how Parties’ decision would affect their life; we concluded that there is a need to participate and raise our voices. By the year of 2000, many indigenous people’s leaders participated for the first time in the United Nations Framework Convention of Climate Change in Lyon France, demanding the recognition of their rights, knowledge and the need to be heard.
Paris Agreement decisions introduced the paragraph 135, which states the need to strengthen indigenous people’s knowledge and create a platform to exchange best practices in mitigation and adaptation. Before this decision, we had some wording on traditional knowledge in the Nairobi Work Program, then the Bali Action Plan also requested to address the needs of indigenous peoples when implementing redd actions. The Cancun Agreement recognize the importance of traditional and indigenous knowledge to enhance action on adaptation and the Guidance and Safeguards for REDD+ also recognize the rights and knowledge of indigenous peoples and local communities.
Are you ready to listen?
25 years later, Parties have decided to listen to indigenous peoples in official meetings. Now in Bonn at UNFCCC COP23, 17 years after our first participation on climate change meetings, the Paris Agreement decision on the local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Platform starts to be operationalized.
Indigenous Peoples had the opportunity to introduce the common principles in the paragraph 8 of the final text of the platform. No matter the type of official meetings, the voices of indigenous peoples were heard. This is the first time we have seen this level of engagement and perhaps it is a good step in the right direction.
At moments of major concerns and sometimes even confusion, our elders present at the COP23 were bringing peace and wisdom to support the younger generation to achieve the goal. The “Spirit of Talanoa” helped our connection among regions to have a successful engagement during this two weeks in Bonn.
My brother called me from Limoncocha to know how knowledge holders can participate in this platform. Is there any specific topic on adaptation and mitigation the platform is looking for? Is there any linkage with Nationally Determined Contributions? These and other questions can be addressed during the first activity in May 2018 when indigenous peoples and parties will prepare a work program. In this first official platform meeting we will know if the Parties are ready to listen indigenous people’s contribution to climate action.