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“We need an agreement to ensure an alive and healthy planet”
Segundo Chuquipiondo
1/14/2016
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Amazonian indigenous peoples present proposals to the COP21 agreement, which will be signed on Apr. 22, 2016 in New York.

Twenty years have passed since the first Conference of the Parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP) in 1995 in Berlin, Germany, which was created to prevent humans from dangerously changing climate.

COP21, held in Paris, France, from Nov. 30 to Dec. 13, not only brought together representatives of the 195 signatory countries to the global agreement, but it also brought together the organized indigenous peoples from around the world who formally participated for the second consecutive year through the so-called “Indigenous Pavilion”, a platform for communication and advocacy for indigenous peoples to express their alternatives in facing the climate crisis.

The conference recognized the category of indigenous peoples. The preamble of the Paris Agreement recognizes the rights of indigenous peoples and their contribution from their forests to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, the role they play in the conservation of forests and finally, the agreement takes into account their traditional knowledge for climate change adaptation and exchange of experiences of the communities’ practices for mitigation and adaptation.

However, Henderson Rengifo, president of the Interethnic Association for the Development of the Peruvian Rainforest (AIDESEP) — which brings together the Amazonian indigenous communities in Peru —, said that “the indigenous peoples were disappointed for the removal from Article 2 [of the final agreement] the issue of indigenous peoples rights. However, in the process should be highlighted that we are little by little being visible and we are increasingly included in these discussions that affect us all.”

 “We need an agreement to ensure an alive and healthy planet,” said Rengifo in a press conference during the COP. “We expect the world to hear us. Humanity today does not respect itself and also does not respect the place where it lives that is nature. Therefore, the proposals we have brought to COP21 are mainly to protect our territories [forests] for the benefit of humanity.”

Amazonian indigenous proposals
Indigenous participation was massive. Delegations from Africa, the Arctic, Asia and America gathered at the climate summit, but not all were authorized to enter the blue zone (official zone). AIDESEP was represented by 23 people, including presidents and technicians from the nine regional organizations that made up the indigenous Peruvian delegation.

The peoples of the Peruvian Amazon, as part of a global indigenous request, proposed including land rights as collateral in the global agreement to stop the climate crisis. They also suggested strengthening the comprehensive management of forests by extending by 2 million hectares the mechanism for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation, or REDD Indigenous Amazon; the Monitoring, Reporting and Indigenous Verification (MRV-I), which develops a technology-supported system for surveillance and indigenous territorial governance; climate funds for  indigenous development projects; implementing the adaptation plans of indigenous women; and the organization of a Safeguards Information System (SIS) for the effective reduction of Mega-drivers of deforestation.

Teresita Antazú, Yanesha indigenous leader who was part of the AIDESEP delegation, explained the negative impact climate change has on communities.

“In some parts of the Amazon, high waters prevent the growth of what we cultivate,” she said. “We urgently need to develop the capabilities of indigenous women to exercise their leadership. We are part of the territory; without it, we have nothing. That’s why in this COP we should provide plans of action for adaptation to be effective and not only a declarative statement”.

Binding agreement?
Peru’s Environment Minister, Manuel Pulgar Vidal, recognized the need for granting titles to indigenous territories, which would reduce deforestation.

“Peru is committed to reduce national carbon emissions by 30 percent and to guarantee this reduction, we must implement actions such as the titling of indigenous lands, stopping deforestation, among other actions,” said Pulgar Vidal.

According to the minister, the sum of all signatories’ contributions will result in the real expected reduction rate, considering that now the agreement establishes keeping the temperature increase below 1.5° C by the end of the century.

“This legally binding universal agreement is aimed at a low carbon economy in the second half of the century, in addition to being considered a historic action to reverse climate change and its consequences,” said Pulgar Vidal.
But the truth is that the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions established by the Paris Agreement will be set by each country, but will not be compulsory.

Peruvian biologist Ernesto Ráez commented on social media that “you need to read and think a lot to feel that you properly understood the scope of the Paris Agreement. The conclusion can be put into five sentences:  The agreement proposes [keeping] global warming below 2ºC and to try to stay at maximum 1.5ºC. It also proposes that at some point at the end of the century (2099, for instance), we must reach zero net emissions, but the agreement does not say it that simply.”

“The agreement recognizes that there is a huge gap between countries’ commitment to reduce their emissions and what is needed to achieve the objectives,” he added. “The agreement contains absolutely no measures or specific obligation for any country, company, or the world economy to effectively reduce emissions to the required level, neither for the worst emitters to compensate victims of climate disasters. There are no sanctions against anyone who violates what little was agreed to.”
— Latinamerica Press.


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Luis Tayori, leader of the Harakmbut people, in a press conference during the official part of the climate summit. / Segundo Chuquipiondo
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