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UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, UNFCCC

Indigenous peoples engage in the UNFCCC process to advocate for the agreements under the convention to recognize their special concerns and human rights

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, UNFCCC, is an international treaty created at the Earth Summit in Rio in 1992 to tackle the growing problem of global warming and related harmful changes in the climate, such as more frequent droughts, hurricanes and rising sea levels.

Indigenous rights issues cut across almost all areas of negotiation but have been highlighted most significantly within the negotiations on forest conservation, known as REDD+, Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation, one of the mitigation measures.

Indigenous participation in the UNFCCC Climate Change negotiations 

Indigenous peoples is a recognized  constituency with observer status to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. This means that indigenous peoples’ NGOs can apply for observer status under the convention, and those that are accepted can nominate participants to the sessions of the different bodies under the convention. 

Read more about indigenous peoples participation in the COP 21 in Paris (internal link)

The International Indigenous Peoples’ Forum on Climate Change (IIPFCC) is the joint indigenous peoples' caucus in the UNFCCC process. It coordinate indigenous peoples' efforts and activities related to the UNFCCC process. The Forum is open to those indigenous activists that wish to engage in the negotiations at any given time.

Read more about the role of the International Indigenous Peoples’ Forum on Climate Change (IIPFCC) in indigenous peoples' climate change advocacy (internal link)

Background on the UNFCCC process

The Kyoto Protocol

The UNFCCC entered into force in 1994, and has near universal membership, with 192 countries as ratifying parties. In 1997, the Convention established its Kyoto Protocol, ratified by 184 parties, by which a number of industrialized countries have committed to reducing their greenhouse gas emissions in line with legally binding targets.

The Kyoto Protocol entered into force in 2005 and, during its first commitment period from 2008- 2012, 37 industrialized countries and the European Union committed themselves to reducing their greenhouse gas emissions by an average of 5 percent by 2012, in relation to the 1990 level.

The Bali Action Plan and the AWG-LCA

In 2007, the Convention’s governing body, the Conference of the Parties (COP), adopted the Bali Action Plan - a road map for strengthening international action on climate change and enabling full implementation of the Convention through an agreement covering all parties to the Convention.

The elements of the Bali Action Plan, a shared vision, mitigation, adaptation, technology development and transfer, provision of financial resources and investments, are negotiated in the Ad-Hoc Working Group on Long-Term Cooperative Action, AWG-LCA.

SBSTA and SBI

Apart from the Ad-Hoc Working Group on the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP), and the AWG-LCA, the Convention has two permanent subsidiary bodies, namely the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA), and the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI).

The Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP)

In December 2012, during the COP18 in Doha, the Ad-Hoc working group AWG-LCA concluded its work and most discussions were terminated or moved to the SBSTA and SBI. The COP18 adopted the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP) that will lead the COP discussions towards an overall binding agreement on emissions reductions in 2015.

Conferences of the Parties

The Parties (States) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change convene yearly at the so-called Conferences of the Parties (COPs). Indigenous peoples have observer status to the UNFCCC and can thus follow and lobby the climate talks at the COPs and at inter-sessional meetings. 

Read about indigenous peoples participation in the COP 21, Paris 2015 (internal link) 

Updates from COP 16 to 20 - see here

More information