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Preventing Kyoto Protocol Burial

Published: November 30, 2011, Author: Rÿser Rudolph C.

The International Indigenous Peoples Forum on Climate Change presented its statement to the Adhoc Working Group on the Kyoto Protocols yesterday in Durban, South Africa at the Climate Change Treaty negotiations.  Ben Powless of the Indigenous Environmental network presented the following statement: 

Thank you Mr. Chair,

I speak to you on behalf of the International Indigenous Peoples’ Forum on Climate Change.

We recognize that the Kyoto Protocol is the only legally binding international instrument we have to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Indigenous Peoples, especially in Africa, are already suffering from the impacts of climate change. We do not have time to wait. We need a commitment for a legally binding outcome.

Indigenous peoples are concerned that Annex I countries are actively working towards burying the Kyoto Protocol instead of delivering the emissions cuts necessary to save our precious Mother Earth, and all life.

This could result in at least 5 degrees warming, and could lead to the destruction of our cultures and the ecocide of our territories.

We acknowledge the Kyoto Protocol has many flaws, including violations of human rights within the implementation of the Clean Development Mechanism. We are also concerned at the possible inclusion of nuclear power as a CDM measure. However, the prospect of Kyoto dying in Durban, without a viable alternative, would be disastrous.  We instead want to see the Protocol strengthened.

We would consider only alternatives to market based mechanisms for adaptation and mitigation funding.  We also call for the AWG-KP to incorporate safeguards for adaptation and mitigation measures that are negatively impacting Indigenous Peoples.

Measures must be included to recognize Indigenous Peoples’ rights to lands, territories and resources, full and effective participation, as well as the right to free, prior and informed consent, in line with applicable universal human rights instruments, including the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Therefore, Indigenous rights and Indigenous knowledge must be recognized in discussions of Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry. We also reiterate our support for an Indigenous Peoples’ Expert Group to be formed under the Kyoto Protocol jointly with Indigenous Peoples.


The International Indigenous Peoples Forum on Climate Change is an adhoc coalition of indigenous civil society organizations joined by indigenous peoples’ representatives largely from South America, Africa, Pacific Island, South Asia and Melanesia.  Individuals participating in the annual rounds of climate change negotiations have continued to seek formal admittance to the negotiations as full participants, but the Conference of Parties has remained closed to indigenous peoples direct participation.  Representations presented, such as the one quoted above, have the benefit of reflecting earnest views of indigenous peoples’ organizations and many communities, but they have the standing of non-governmental, or civil society representations officially. Indigenous peoples do not, despite years of trying, have official standing as peoples or governing nations despite the reality that indigenous peoples possess 80% of the world’s last remaining biodiversity that sustains life on the planet.

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