The International Indigenous Peoples Forum on Climate Change is working to participate in climate change talks in Bonn, Germany beginning this week. The two week meeting of the ad hoc working groups on long-term cooperative action (AWG-LCA) the Kyoto Protocols (AWG-KP) discuss the procedures for participation in talks and language on adaption strategies. Both of these issues are of considerable importance to indigenous peoples. Indigenous peoples’ participation up to the present date remains marginalized. Instead of directly active participants in the talks indigenous peoples have remained marginalized as representatives of “civil society groups.” This category merely allows indigenous representatives extremely limited (3 minute) statements as if they represent non-governmental organizations. Instead of representing nations, as they do, indigenous peoples are relegated to the role of organizations subordinate to state authority.
Despite the recognized fact that indigenous peoples occupy territories in which 80 percent of the world’s life sustaining biodiversity remains intact, and that indigenous peoples are responsible for sustaining this life-giving trove of unspoiled lands, plants and animals hundreds of millions of their representatives remain outside the door of climate change negotiations. This must change.
Perhaps we will see the beginning of change this year, but if this year is like the others we will see indigenous peoples still seeking a place at the negotiating table.