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Indigenous Peoples on the Back-burner in Bangkok

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Bangkok Climate Change Agenda Setting session comes to a close

The one week meeting of the Ad-hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperation (AWG-LC) and the Ad-hoc Working Group on the Kyoto Protocols (AWG-KP) met for five days (3 April - 8 April 2011) to 1, review progress of "developed countries" toward achieving carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas emissions reductions and 2. to set an agenda for the December 2011 (COP 17) negotiating session of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to be held in Durban, South Africa.

On the final day of this meeting negotiators agreed to an agenda for Durban and "least developed countries" and Bolivia found much to be disappointed about.  On the latter point The Gambia spoke for the "least developed countries" most of which stand to experience enormous adverse affects from climate changes by expressing "disappointment with the meeting" due to its failure to deal with the issues of developing a "finance for implementation and adaptation" plan and the low level of "ambition of developed country mitigation pledges."

In straight forward terms, the "least developed countries" express the same frustration as the indigenous peoples' caucus.  In many ways the "least developed countries" and indigenous peoples have the same concerns and agenda, but they do not coordinate their efforts and they do not have a joint strategy to advance their agenda in the talks.

Another indication that the "indigenous peoples agenda" has faltered due to the positions and concerns of the United States and China is the response of Bolivia that has championed many of the indigenous caucus concerns in this and other venues.  The Bolivian government argued that the decisions taken in Cancun were to vague and insufficient and should not serve as the basis for the meetings in Cancun. Bolivia wants to place a heavier burden on "developed countries" to make emissions reductions by 40-50% by 2020 to reach the goal limiting the global temperature rise to 1.5 Celsius. Bolivia expressed the concern of countries other than the "developed countries" (United States, EU, Japan, etc.) that transparency is essential at the the "rule of consensus" be respected once again (noting that the US and several other countries pushed through a decision in Cancun even though there was no consensus).

Argentina, arguing successfully on behalf of the G77 countries (Third World) and China, pressed for the Durban agenda to be based on the Bali Action Plan (See Summary Attached) and aspects of decisions taken in Cancun.  The Ad-hoc Working Group on Long-Term Cooperation meeting achieved its objective of setting an agenda.

There is no evidence that indigenous peoples' interests will become a part of the new agenda since the Bali Action Plan only mentions indigenous peoples obliquely in the preamble suggesting, "that the needs of local and indigenous communities should be addressed when action is taken to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries."  This issue was touched on substantially at the Convention on Biodiversity talks in Japan last year, but still the broader questions of indigenous peoples' having the right to exercise "free, prior and informed consent" in advance of states' governments taking decisions remains a muted subject.

Virtually no progress was made in the Ad-hoc Working Group on Kyoto Protocols.

The political leadership of indigenous nations and communities can make a significant difference in Durban, South Africa, but they will have to take action now.

The next session of the AWG-LC and AWG-KP is scheduled for Bonn, Germany beginning 8 June 2011.
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