COP26: “There Will Be No Solution for Humanity Without Us”

Photo: “With their colors, their colors, chants and struggle, indigenous peoples have joined people from all over the world in the streets of Glasgow in defense of the planet.” Caio Mota/APIB #COPCOLLAB26

Representatives of indigenous organizations continue to fight to have their voices and perspectives heard during the COP26 negotiations and climate crisis solutions. Civil and environmental organizations have denounced that governments and large corporations have left them out of many of the most important decisions, such as the carbon market and financing structures for climate adaptation programs. We share below some of the statements made by various indigenous organizations of the Amazon basin:

There will be no solution for humanity without us

The Coordenação das Organizações Indígenas da Amazônia Brasileira released a statement on November 5 that highlights the strategic role of indigenous people in defending the planet. “Without our territories, there are no guarantees for the survival of all species that inhabit the planet,” they insisted, particularly from a lack of real conservation programs for the Amazon. “We are the protectors of the Forest, and we understand the priorities and urgency to avoid its destruction.”

The ancestral knowledge of indigenous people about their territories places them in the perfect position to manage the land and forests and provide community solutions to climate change. They denounced greenwashing announcements from politicians and corporations while they continue predatory exploitation of the Amazon. This includes governors of Acre, Mato Grosso, Pará, and Rondônia who give environmentalist speeches in Glasgow, while they also paying tribute to transnational mining.

“We reaffirm that our fight is for life. The planet, to face the climate crisis, needs us, indigenous peoples!”

Climate financing should be channeled directly to indigenous peoples

Similarly, the Coordinadora de las Organizaciones Indígenas de la Cuenca Amazónica (COICA) launched a proposal that includes five key goals for climate action. They highlight that climate financing must be distributed directly to indigenous communities and organizations in order to achieve real climate goals. “It is urgent to implement efficient actions to guarantee direct financing to the territories and prevent greater deforestation and degradation in our Amazon,” said Tabea Casique of COICA, particularly if one takes into consideration that only 1% to 5% of the Climate funds are provided to communities with the greatest responsibility for safeguarding the planet.

Jorge Pérez, president of AIDESEP in Peru, explained that most of the funds are destined for governments and do not reach those communities who hold key knowledge about the territories and could have a greater impact.

They also called for guarantees that the violence against defenders will stop immediately. “In the last four years, from 2017 to 2020, 1,268 murders have been registered globally, with 2020 being the year with the highest number of murders with 331 cases. In other words, in this 4-year period, 26% of the cases occurred in the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, despite the existence of general mobilization restrictions,” they explained.

One of the five goals also includes greater participation of women defenders from the Amazon basin in all decision-making at the international level.

Amazonian women are one with our jungles, that is why we have been and will continue to be the guardians of the Amazon rainforest

In a letter written jointly by representatives of multiple organizations during the Summit of Native Women of the Amazon Basin, women leaders demanded greater guarantees for the participation of indigenous women not only in COP26 but in other international spaces. “We feel that our collective voice is not represented in decision-making spaces. We do not have specific quotas to participate in the Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC [UN Conference of the Parties], held annually, nor facilities to attend; we lack visibility and do not have funds to finance initiatives that contribute to the conservation and protection of the Amazon. “

The Summit participants demanded recognition for the fundamental role that indigenous women play in the management, restoration, reforestation, and care of their territories. As well as support for their own economies, taking into account “models of buen vivir and the sustenance of collective life around food autonomy, the diversity of own crops, and ancestral processing techniques.”

Delimitation, demarcation, and land tenure 

The right to land tenure is a permanent concern for all indigenous peoples in risk areas to guarantee not only their proper administration but also to avoid illegal land invasions. “It means that governments must ensure that there is no external interference on our territories in compliance with the exercise of the right to property and that land tenure must be accompanied by actions of investigation and eradication of illegal activities by third parties in indigenous territories. “

For its campaign, Demarcation Now!, the Articulação dos Povos Indígenas do Brasil (APIB) explained in a statement that “a third of Indigenous and community lands in 64 countries are under threat due to the lack of land tenure rights.” Lack of recognition of collective land tenure places indigenous peoples and their way of life in greater danger.

“Indigenous Land is a guarantee for the future for all humanity. Our relationship with the territory is not one of ownership, exploitation, expropriation, or appropriation, but one of respect and management of a common good, which serves all humanity as a barricade to the extractive dynamics behind the climate crisis. Until today – based on reports from the UN and several research institutes of the highest reputation in western science – we, the Indigenous Peoples, have the greatest responsibility for preserving planet’s biomes,” they wrote in a press release in October in preparation for the Glasgow conference.