Green Climate Fund asked for indigenous people’s rights policy

indigenous peoples traditional communities
Indigenous peoples traditional communities Pic: Kate Fisher/Flickr

UN’s flagship climate bank must recognise positive benefits traditional communities offer forests and ecosystems, says civil society group

July 22, 2016 — The UN’s flagship Green Fund has been asked to adopt policies to ensure that the next set of projects it approves will respect the rights of tribal communities. 

Philippines-based organization Tebtebba wants the GCF to develop policies that mean all initiatives conform with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

“The positive contribution of indigenous peoples’ traditional knowledge in adaptation should therefore be clearly acknowledged by the GCF when developing its Adaptation Planning processes, building up on current best practices and approaches,” reads a letter from Tebtebba to the GCF board.

Tasked with driving clean energy and climate resilience investments in developing countries, the $10.3 billion fund opened for business in 2015 and recently allotted $256.6 million of funds to 9 projects.

The GCF has an existing system of safeguards that covers IP rights, called the Environmental and Social Management Standards (ESMS).

These include benchmarks for checking that the proposed activities will not harm the environment and indigenous peoples, among others.

But they are interim with GCF-specific safeguards expected by 2018 – and indigenous groups say the fund’s performance standards in particular do not offer an adequate system of safeguards

“These do not even consider the issue of traditional knowledge and the modalities and criteria according to which traditional knowledge can positively contribute to adaptation and mitigation,” said Tebtebba.

According to the UN an estimated 370 million indigenous peoples live across 70 countries from the Arctic to the South Pacific.

The World Bank has previously stated that 60 million indigenous people are “wholly dependent” on forests. Many have low levels of political participation, live in poverty and lack access to social services.

Indigenous groups have long argued for direct access to funds for climate change, many arguing that many projects aimed at preventing deforestation and building resilience are not always aligned with their interests.

Construction of dams, the promotion of biofuels and other climate mitigation strategies are frequently blamed for displacing and damaging communities, while protests have also been directed towards the UN’s REDD+ forest protection scheme.

The 2015 Paris climate deal explicitly stated in its preamble that the rights of indigenous peoples must be protected in the course of implementing mitigation and adaptation activities.

Article 7 of the Paris Agreement, on the other hand, states in particular that adaptation must be guided both by science, and if appropriate, by traditional knowledge.

The GCF has yet to issue a response to Tebtebba’s request and GCF officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment from Climate Home.

The group, however, hopes that the board will tackle their concerns in October in its meeting in Ecuador.

“We hope that in the upcoming board meeting in Ecuador this would provide us a hook to raise issues, on land tenure and indigenous rights in the safeguards,” Helen Magata from Tebtebba said.

by Purple Romero | Climate Change News