On the occasion of the first Board meeting of the Green Climate Fund (GCF), Forest Peoples Programme (FPP) and Jaringan Orang Asal Se-Malaysia (JOAS) are publishing a report titled: “Indigenous Peoples and the Green Climate Fund – A technical briefing for Indigenous Peoples, policymakers and support groups”.
This report summarises some key issues relevant for indigenous peoples, building on statements and policy platforms adopted by Indigenous Peoples’ Caucuses. In particular the report draws attention to the need for the GCF to improve indigenous peoples’ participation in governance, adopt stronger safeguards and facilitate direct access to financing for climate change response actions developed and implemented by indigenous peoples.
Through the International Indigenous Peoples’ Forum on Climate Change (IIPFCC), indigenous peoples seek acknowledgement of their contribution to climate change issues and their right to be actively engaged and participate in GCF activities and decision-making. Key demands with regard to climate finance, presented in global statements and declarations, are aimed at ensuring that indigenous peoples do not become more vulnerable in the financing and implementation of climate change projects and that there is full and effective participation of indigenous peoples in global efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change.
The Green Climate Fund can play a significant role in bolstering support for adaptation and mitigation, but in order to do so, it must recognise and respect international human rights and indigenous peoples' rights obligations and standards and fully recognise indigenous peoples' right to participation in its governance structures.
The report also provides a detailed overview and analysis of the process that led to the setting up of the Green Climate Fund and is meant to be an informative tool for indigenous peoples and other actors interested in the Fund's activities.
The report identifies a number of key areas in which the GCF must act to better support the participation of indigenous peoples. These include:
A: Designation of indigenous peoples' active observers - The Durban decision on the GCF allows for the designation of active observers. Indigenous peoples call for active observer status in the GCF in order to increase transparency and ensure respect for indigenous peoples’ right to participation in UN processes. Indigenous peoples have not yet been recognised as active observers in the GCF, though they may participate as normal observers with limited participation rights. Experience in other funds shows that active observer status is useful where the rules of procedure allow indigenous peoples and other groups to make direct interventions on issues relevant to the operation and policies of the fund.
B. Safeguards and indigenous peoples' rights - For indigenous peoples a key area of concern is the degree to which the GCF safeguards will be aligned to international obligations such as the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and Free, Prior, Informed Consent (FPIC). There is a need for a clear mechanism for assessment of compliance with safeguards and GCF rules, backed by a GCF recourse mechanism and participatory systems for Monitoring, Reporting and Verification (MRV).
Some Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) are considering the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Social and Environmental Safeguard Standards (SESS) as a basis for the development of a GCF framework. This is a cause for concern since the GEF minimum standards do not meet existing international standards on indigenous peoples as set out in the UNDRIP and related human rights instruments
C. Direct Access to funding - Indigenous peoples call for direct access funding windows for indigenous peoples under adaptation and mitigation. While direct access is referred to in the Durban decision, this currently refers to national governments and the ability of accredited national implementing entities to access the funds. An innovation of the GCF is a special facility to enhance private sector participation. There are strong benefits for creating a similar specific finance facility under the GCF to enable indigenous peoples direct access to small, discrete funds that would strengthen the contributions of indigenous and local knowledge in climate change adaptation and mitigation and support self-determined development.