UN Secretary-General António Guterres drew attention to the ways that indigenous peoples are denied their human rights, and saluted them for the pioneering role they play in efforts to protect nature and preserve biodiversity. Indigenous peoples “hold many of the solutions to the climate crisis and are guardians of the world’s biodiversity,” in places as varied as the Amazon, the Sahel, and the Himalayas, said Mr. Guterres.

The UN chief acknowledged that indigenous peoples struggle to adapt to the climate crisis, and face the exploitation of their resource-rich territories, eviction from their ancestral lands, and physical attacks. The Secretary-General pointed to the adoption of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in 2007, which has led to broader participation of Indigenous Peoples in the work of the organization, such as the Convention on Biological Diversity and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. “The United Nations is committed to keep promoting the rights of Indigenous Peoples in policies and programming at all levels and amplifying your voices,” declared the UN chief. “Let us learn from and embrace the experiences of indigenous peoples.”

UN News/Laura Quiñones With less that 36 hours left in negotiations at COP27, activists demand action on loss and damage. Darío Mejia Montalvo, an indigenous member of the Zenú community in the Colombian Caribbean, and president of the UNPFII, noted the arduous struggle faced by indigenous people. “Those who came before us on this path,” he said, in remarks delivered during the opening session, “were able to open up the doors of the United Nations, thanks to their strength. “I pay tribute to the leaders of indigenous peoples and allies who have lost their lives, defending their peoples and their territories. This Forum belongs to them.” Mr. Montalvo, describing the Forum as the greatest meeting of cultural and political diversity in the world, said that indigenous peoples are prepared to offer solutions to the climate crisis, and share their experiences.

“The issues of climate change and biodiversity cannot be resolved without the real and effective participation of indigenous peoples,” he argued, adding that energy transition policies must take indigenous peoples into account from the very beginning. “Urgent climate action involves stopping the persecution, homicide and criminalization of indigenous brothers and sisters and their actions defending human rights and the rights of nature,” declared Mr. Montalvo.

The President of the General Assembly, Csaba Kőrösi, declared that the world is still paying the price for taking such a long time to learn from indigenous peoples, about the ways in which the health of the planet and the health of people are intrinsically linked. Mr. Kőrösi said that the UN needs to understand the factors impacting the health and well-being of indigenous peoples, and address them in a holistic and rights-based manner.

Source: The UN

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