Indigenous Peoples Mobilise in Lima, but Climate Change Conference Fails to Produce Commitments on Rights

Cumbre de los pueblos

Indigenous Peoples Mobilise in Lima, but Climate Change Conference Fails to Produce Commitments on Rights

Deforestation reports launched and hearing held with the presence of UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Indigenous peoples were centre stage at the Lima UNFCCC COP20 in December 2014. An international dialogue with governments took place before the beginning of the negotiations. Meanwhile initiatives and presentations were organised to underline the need to respect indigenous peoples' rights as one of the pillars for environmentally sound and socially just mitigation and adaptation.

Indigenous peoples from the Amazon went to Lima to claim their rights to land, territories and resources. Megaprojects, extraction of resources and land grabbing were denounced as key threats to forests and indigenous peoples' rights, while traditional management systems and land rights were identified as possible alternatives. Criminalisation of indigenous movements was another leitmotif. The names of two indigenous leaders - Edwin Chota, an Ashaninka from Peru and Jose Isidro Tendetza Antun, a Shuar from Ecuador - killed in their struggle against logging and mining, resounded throughout the Indigenous People's Pavilion and at the Cumbre de los Pueblos, the Peoples' Summit for Climate Justice.

As usual the negotiations inside the official climate meeting unfurled at a different pace from the mobilisations outside. Parties were attempting to put together a draft negotiating text for the Paris COP 21 to be held in December, when a binding climate change agreement should be adopted. Hence any language or reference to commitments that would slow or delay negotiations was omitted. No commitment on rights was included in the Lima Call for Action nor was any qualitative standard to report on indigenous peoples' rights in REDD+ adopted.

After a tug of war with the Group of 77 (G77) countries, parties supported the need to respect human rights and the rights of indigenous peoples in the preamble of the new draft agreement. In this context, indigenous peoples – and Forest Peoples Programme (supporting a delegation of leaders from DRC, Panama, Colombia, Guyana, and Peru) - have been working with a coalition of NGOs to advocate for a rights-based approach to climate change policies and programmes.

FPP published case studies on deforestation and indigenous peoples' rights, with a particular focus on Peru and launched a global report on deforestation and forest peoples' rights, with the proceedings and key findings of the Palangka Raya workshop held in March last year in Indonesia. A global indigenous peoples' hearing on deforestation  was also organised together with AIDESEP at the Museum of Arts of Lima. In the presence of leaders from all over the world (and the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Vicky Tauli Corpuz) threats to indigenous lands were denounced publicly and alternatives proposed based on participatory mapping (such as in the case of the Wapichan in Guyana) and traditional knowledge and self-determination.

More work will have to be done from now until Paris to ensure that the key demands of the indigenous peoples' organisations are recognised and met by governments. Forest Peoples Programme will continue to work with partners and indigenous peoples movements to call for the recognition of rights in any new climate agreement, in particular in mitigation actions in forests, issues of land rights, Free Prior Informed Consent, the recognition of traditional knowledge, full and effective participation of indigenous peoples in climate talks and actions, and direct access to financial resources.