Indigenous People's Global Summit on Climate Change

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The Indigenous People's Global Summit on Climate Change was organized by the Inuit Circumpolar Council and held between April 20-24, 2009, in Anchorage, Alaska, US.

The conference was organized to "enable Indigenous peoples from all regions of the globe to exchange their knowledge and experience in adapting to the impacts of climate change, and to develop key messages and recommendations to be articulated to the world at the Conference of Parties (COP) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Copenhagen, Denmark in December 2009."[1]

Aims of the Conference

On its website the ICC state that the conference "will bring together 200-300 indigenous participants and observers from around the world to pursue four key objectives:

1. Consolidate, share and draw lessons from the views and experiences of Indigenous Peoples around the world on the impacts and effects of climate change on their ways of life and their natural environment, including responses;

2. Raise the visibility, participation and role of Indigenous Peoples in local, national, regional and international processes in formulating strategies and partnerships that engage local communities and other stakeholders to respond to the impacts of climate change;

3. Analyze, discuss and promote public awareness of the impacts and consequences of programs and proposals for climate change mitigation and adaptation, and assess proposed solutions to climate change from the perspective of Indigenous Peoples; and

4. Advocate effective strategies and solutions in response to climate change from the perspective of the cultures, world views, and traditional knowledge of Indigenous Peoples, including local, national, regional and international rights-based approaches."[1]

The Adoption of the Anchorage Declaration

The Anchorage Declaration adopted at the conference stated that participants were "deeply alarmed by the accelerating climate devastation brought about by unsustainable development. We are experiencing profound and disproportionate adverse impacts on our cultures, human and environmental health, human rights, well-being, traditional livelihoods, food systems and food sovereignty, local infrastructure, economic viability, and our very survival as Indigenous Peoples."[2]

In particular the declaration:

  • urged Annex I countries to support a binding emissions reduction target "of at least 45% below 1990 levels by 2020 and at least 95% by 2050";
  • called on countries to "work towards decreasing dependency on fossil fuels. We further call for a just transition to decentralized renewable energy economies, sources and systems owned and controlled by our local communities to achieve energy security and sovereignty";
  • stated that "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";
  • "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";
  • called for "adequate and direct funding in developed and developing States and for a fund to be created to enable Indigenous Peoples’ full and effective participation in all climate processes, including adaptation, mitigation, monitoring and transfer of appropriate technologies in order to foster our empowerment, capacity-building, and education";

However, on the issue of a phase out of fossil fuels, participants could not reach consensus, with some of the regional caucuses supporting a "phase out of fossil fuel development and a moratorium on new fossil fuel developments on or near Indigenous lands and territories" while others preferred that the declaration "call for a process that works towards the eventual phase out of fossil fuels, without infringing on the right to development of Indigenous nations."[2]

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  1. 1.0 1.1 Inuit Circumpolar Council, [Indigenous People's Global Summit on Climate Change"], Indigenous People's Global Summit on Climate Change website, accessed February 2009.
  2. 2.0 2.1 "The Anchorage Declaration", Indigenous Peoples’ Global Summit on Climate Change, April 24, 2009.

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