Indigenous people at COP25: You have to go “beyond the photo and create a space of equality”

The first week of COP25 comes to an end and the voices of indigenous populations stand out. During the side-event “Natured-based solutions, rights-based decisions: Amazon indigenous REDD+ & IPS land defense action”, the General Coordinator of the COICA, José Gregorio Díaz Mirabal, and the President of ANECAP, Fermín Chimatani Tayori, speak, among others, in front of a big audience.

Under COICA – Coordinator of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon River Basin, 390 indigenous populations created RIA a network of indigenous populations from the Amazon which has positioned them as key advocacy actors for the defence of their rights and territory. This initiative was launched with the purpose of not leaving aside neither the concept of nature nor the collaboration between people nor their human rights. At this COP, the aim of COICA is to launch the second phase of RIA. As José Gregorio Díaz Mirabal affirms, we must act now, and it is now that states, NGOs and the entire planet have to listen to the indigenous peoples. He also adds that “the existence of humankind is already on the agenda of humanity and it will not be possible to reverse the climate crisis without nature and the wisdom of indigenous peoples”.

Several studies show that the best conserved territories are those protected by indigenous populations. For 7 years, the 9 indigenous organizations part of COICA have presented a proposal for an indigenous climate strategy for climate change mitigation and adaptation, a strategy from the point of view of the indigenous populations. Since then, concrete actions have been successfully realized and consolidated in the territory for the implementation of sustainable development. For instance, the territorial co-management of 9 communal reserves in Peru where 9 indigenous organizations jointly administer and manage a total of 5 million hectares of forests.

The collaboration with institutions and stakeholders is key. Fermín Chimatani Tayori’s words are strong and clear: “We are asking for it because we have historically conserved the forests and, thus, there is a historical debt to us.” He argues that it is necessary to scale these experiences of ecosystem services systems co-management. Indigenous peoples themselves recognize that they cannot do it alone and that governments have to be aware not only of their historical debt to them but also of the key role played by these populations. He also calls for a real reflection of the contributions of indigenous peoples in the Paris Agreement. It is necessary to “go beyond the photo and create a space of equality” where these populations can be listened to and be able to contribute with their experiences and knowledge.

It is a call for articulation, dialogue and collaboration with governments towards a better Agenda for the good of the whole planet.

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