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COP20: Indigenous peoples push for human rights at climate change negotiations in Lima

December 2 2014
The COP20 began yesterday, in Lima, Peru. During the next two weeks, the International Indigenous Peoples’ Forum on Climate Change (IIPFCC) will be pushing for a strong human rights-based approach to climate change

Indigenous peoples around the world are at the frontline of climate change. Although indigenous peoples’ way of life and traditional practices affect the climate least, they are among those most affected when the climate changes. The opening statement from the International Indigenous Peoples’ Forum on Climate Change (IIPCC) therefore highlighted that indigenous peoples’ collective as well as individual rights should be taken into account in any mitigation or adaption plans to be discussed during the COP.

“Climatic aggression threatens indigenous peoples’ individual and collective human rights and life ways including the right to life, the right to food, the right to health, and the right to lands, territories and resources. It is unacceptable that, without being at all responsible, indigenous peoples remain major victims of climate change, and climate change continues to cause further imbalance and degradation to indigenous peoples’ multiple land use systems. This is further aggravated by the pressure of commercial and extractive interests on our lands such as agribusiness operations, oil palm, biofuel, livestock, hydroelectric, logging, mining and oil megaprojects,” said the IIPFCC in its opening statement yesterday.

Download the opening statement from the IIPFCC (pdf)

Indigenous peoples’ demand for new climate agreements

The IIPFCC has also issued a position paper addressing the UNFCCC COP20 and COP21. The position paper, approved by the indigenous peoples’ caucus on 30 November 2014, further stresses that a human rights-based approach should “expand on the language contained in the Cancun Climate Agreement that represents an initial step towards recognizing the rights of indigenous peoples reflected in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples”.

In addition to the overall demand that a human rights-based approach that respects indigenous peoples’ rights in all climate change agreements and related actions shall be applied, the IIPFCC proposes five focus areas to be considered in the coming negotiations:

  • Respect of indigenous peoples’ rights to lands, territories and resources
  • Recognition of, and respect for, indigenous traditional knowledge and the role of indigenous peoples in adaptation and mitigation
  • Recognition and support of indigenous peoples’ Community-Based Monitoring and Information Systems (CBMIS)
  • Respect of indigenous peoples’ rights to full and effective participation in all climate change actions and UNFCCC institutions
  • Ensure indigenous peoples’ direct access to finance and capacity building

Download the executive Summary of Indigenous Peoples’ Proposals to the UNFCCC COP20 and COP21 (pdf)

Indigenous peoples speak up in Lima

Peru is a country with a large indigenous population. At least four million people self-identify as being indigenous. Many events during the COP in Lima are therefore expected to focus on the situation and rights of indigenous peoples in relation to climate change.

Within the COP venue, the regional organization for indigenous peoples of the Amazon Rainforest, COICA, has established an indigenous pavilion, which will host a full programme with panel discussions and debates organized by indigenous peoples from around the world.

In addition, a number of official side events will also focus on indigenous issues. Along with the REDD+ working group, AIPP and Sweden, IWGIA is for example organizing a side-event on “REDD+ Implementation: Legal and governance foundations, Indigenous Peoples’ Rights and Safeguards” on Friday 5 December. This side-event will focus on the need for a strong human rights-based approach to the implementation of REDD+. Lakpa Nuri Sherpa from AIPP and Edward Porokwa from Pingos Forum (Tanzania) will be among the speakers.

Read more about the side-event here

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Read the article “Global Climate Talks Open with Push for Human Rights on the website of

Webcast from the COP 20

It is possible to follow webcasts from the COP on the UNFCCC website here