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Indigenous Peoples assert their rights at the Africa Climate Summit

4 September 2023 - The Africa Climate Summit commenced today in Nairobi, Kenya. The three-day summit aims to drive green growth and solutions for Africa and the world. Indigenous Peoples are represented by delegates from 20 countries advocating for their rights in climate action.

A statement on behalf of Indigenous Peoples of Africa was given by Anne Samante representing the Africa Indigenous Peoples Regional Steering Committee. The statement highlights the role Indigenous Peoples play in protecting critical ecosystems across the continent, making Indigenous Peoples actors in combating climate change.

Watch the delivery of the statement: 

The statement further highlights that Indigenous Peoples’ livelihoods are based on their lands, territories and natural resources and therefore they are among the hardest hit by the climate crisis despite being among the lowest emitters. Indigenous Peoples of Africa bring to the summit the following concerns and requests:

  • Renewable energy initiatives affect Indigenous Peoples’ lands and territories. For Indigenous Peoples there is no idle land. They use all their land for livelihood and cultural purposes, and their ability to maintain mobility within their lands and territories is vital. Any initiative on their lands must respect Indigenous Peoples’ free, prior and informed consent.
  • With regard to adaptation, Indigenous Peoples are not just victims. They come with solutions. Their traditional knowledge and ways of life enable Indigenous Peoples to build resilience and adaptation to the impact of climate change.
  • An estimated 50 million Indigenous Peoples live in Africa and contribute with their knowledge. However, their knowledge and traditional adaptation resilience are not mainstreamed in local and regional policy frameworks. Indigenous Peoples request this summit to recognise the contribution of Indigenous Peoples’ traditional knowledge which makes them more resilient to climate change.
  • On climate finance for adaptation and resilience, a recent study has shown that Indigenous Peoples receive less than 1% of climate finance globally. Indigenous Peoples request for the establishment of an Indigenous Peoples Climate Resilience Fund to mitigate against the impacts of climate change.

During this summit and beyond, Indigenous Peoples also request for effective and meaningful participation of African Indigenous Peoples, including the creation of an African Union focal point at the headquarters that will be handling their matters.

The International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA) is supporting the advocacy of the Africa Indigenous Peoples Regional Steering Committee for the Africa Climate Summit through direct advocacy engagement as well as through enabling a number of Indigenous representatives from five countries of Africa to participate in the Summit.


Follow the official proceedings of the Africa Climate Summit via their YouTube channel:  Africa Climate Summit - YouTube

Tags: Climate



IWGIA - International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs - is a global human rights organisation dedicated to promoting and defending Indigenous Peoples’ rights. Read more.

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