Defending local communities from climate change consequences is a challenge of the COP20.
By Serena Boccardo e Milena Rettondini
Floods, landslides, washouts and deforestation in the Amazons and in the Andean regions threaten ancestral traditions and ancient practices: land farming, traditional medicine, the disappearance of many species of animals and plants, caused by land devastation and rising temperatures are having such an impact on indigenous people that they are forced to migrate and use Western farmaceutical products.
In the months preceding the COP20, 60 young indigenous people belonging to these communities set up a network called Red de Organizaciones de Jovenes Indigenas of Peru, aimed at discussing their needs and identifying common goals to be reached through lobbying the delegates at COP20. Specifically, they call for including in the UNFCCC Agenda an Article aimed at safeguarding the rights of indigenous minorities.
Mama Pancha (the “Mother Earth”) is one, needs are diverse. Young people from the Ashanti minority are aware of this, therefore in their communities they promote actions aimed at the preservation of traditional agricultural practices, use of organics, biological and cultural biodiversity management and efficient solid waste management systems. “It is very difficult to change the local way of thinking,” says Angie, the Director of the Organization and Communication Network Peruvian Youth Afrodiscendetes “because our people is not aware of the relationship between climate change and weather.
Working at the institutional level is our priority: we asked to municipalities, regional governments and the Ministry of Environment to support our battle. We need visibility, we need to include in the COP20 Final Declaration the defence of minorities as a priority. That’s why we created our Official Declaration, to be submitted to the attention of the national focal points and to be discussed during negotiations.” In this document, they ask for preserving their living conditions, environmental conditions and cultural background of their communities as they are.
They call for sustainable development, territorial autonomy and self-determination of indigenous peoples and Afro-descendants and the implementation of a participatory process. Their slogan is “Say NO to climate change, say YES to a systemic change” : we hope they will reach their goal soon.