As presidents, prime ministers and corporate executives gathered at the UN climate action summit on Monday, for the first time, an indigenous representative joined the event in a formal capacity.
Tuntiak Katan of the Ecuadorian Shuar people spoke on behalf of the International Indigenous People’s Forum on Climate Change (IIPFCC), a caucus of indigenous rights advocates who, for years, has been working towards more robust participation and inclusion at the UN level in response to the climate crisis – even more so after the importance of traditional knowledge was mentioned in the 2015 Paris accord.
On Monday, Katan shared the stage with the Bangladeshi prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, and the philanthropist Bill Gates in discussing best approaches for adapting to a planet that is heating. “There’s no time left,” said Katan. “We must make a pact for life and for our future.”
In his two-minute address, Katan outlined three climate action commitments of the IIPFCC as requested by the UN secretary general. Of these steps, the indigenous rights leader who also serves as vice-president of Coordinator of the Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon River Basin (Coica), emphasized most the need for indigenous inclusion.
“We are more than 400 million indigenous peoples in the world and we protect 80% of the world’s biodiversity,” Katan said.
The address was seen by some as representation that doesn’t go far enough, but in the larger scope of the indigenous rights struggle, it was also seen as a small but significant step towards being seen and heard. [Continue reading…]