From 20-24 April 2009, almost 400 Indigenous representatives met in Anchorage, Alaska for the Indigenous Peoples’ Global Summit on Climate Change. After four days of meetings, they produced “The Anchorage Declaration”, which was agreed by consensus of the participants.
“Mother Earth is no longer in a period of climate change, but in climate crisis,” the Declaration states. “Indigenous Peoples have a vital role in defending and healing Mother Earth.”
The Declaration states that the rights of Indigenous Peoples “must be fully respected in all decision-making processes and activities related to climate change”. These rights are affirmed by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and include rights to lands, territories, environment and natural resources. “When specific programs and projects affect them, the right to Self Determination of Indigenous Peoples must be respected, emphasizing our right to Free Prior and Informed Consent including the right to so ‘no’.”
The Declaration refers to forests on several occasions. “We reaffirm the unbreakable and sacred connection between land, air, water, oceans, forests, sea, ice, plants, animals and our human communities as the material and spritual basis for our existence.” It also refers to REDD:
“All initiatives under Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) must secure the recognition and implementation of the human rights of Indigenous Peoples, including security of land tenure, ownership, recognition of land title according to traditional ways, uses and customary laws and the multiple benefits of forests for climate, ecosystems, and Peoples before taking any action.”
The Declaration specifically rejects carbon trading and forest offsets as false solutions to climate change:
“We challenge States to abandon false solutions to climate change that negatively impact Indigenous Peoples’ rights, lands, air, oceans, forests, territories and waters. These include nuclear energy, large-scale dams, geo-engineering techniques, “clean coal”, agro-fuels, plantations, and market based mechanisms such as carbon trading, the Clean Development Mechanism, and forest offsets. The human rights of Indigenous Peoples to protect our forests and forest livelihoods must be recognized, respected and ensured.”
The Declaration calls on the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change to agree binding targets for emissions reductions for developed countries (Annex 1) of at least 45% below 1990 levels by 2020 and at least 95% by 2050. It also calls on the UNFCCC to “recognize the historical and ecological debt of the Annex 1 countries in contributing to greenhouse gas emissions. We call on these countries to pay this historical debt.”
PHOTO Credit: Ben Powless.