UN Framework Convention on Climate Change - June 2011 Meetings at Bonn, Germany
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From: First Peoples Human Rights Coalition
To: 'First Peoples Human Rights Coalition'
Sent: Tuesday, September 06, 2011 5:23 AM
Subject: UN Framework Convention on Climate Change - June 2011 Meetings at Bonn, Germany
From the article below: "Overall, indigenous peoples were inadequately represented. The length and expense of the process is exhausting indigenous peoples and their very limited resources." ...
"It is essential that more representatives of indigenous peoples take an active role in the UNFCCC process because indigenous peoples are the most impacted by climate change and their interests will not be protected without their active insistence."
National Tribal Environmental Council (NTEC)
United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change - June 2011 Meetings at Bonn, Germany
Wednesday, 24 August 2011 21:13 | By Kim Gottschalk, NARF
The Native American Rights Fund (NARF) attended the negotiations of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Bonn, Germany from June 6-17, 2011 on behalf of the National Tribal Environmental Council (NTEC). NTEC/NARF was the only representative from North America. Representation from Africa was sparse, while there were modest contingents from Asia and Latin America. Overall, indigenous peoples were inadequately represented. The length and expense of the process is exhausting indigenous peoples and their very limited resources.
The meetings in Bonn were a follow-up to the Sixteenth Conference of the Parties (COP) which was held in Cancun, Mexico at the end of 2010 and a lead-up to the Seventeenth Conference of the Parties to be held in Durban, South Africa from November 28 to December 9, 2011. The COP meetings bring together high level ministers from the various countries to try and reach binding agreements on matters relating to climate change such as commitments to reduce emissions, funding for adaptation, technology transfer and so on. The meetings in between the COP sessions attempt to make progress on issues so that they are ready for agreement at the following COP session.
Viewed from that standpoint, the interim sessions so far this year have been sobering. In Bangkok, Thailand, in April of this year, the parties spent the entire week agreeing on the agenda in Bonn for the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long term Cooperative Action (LCA). According to one observer there (NTEC/NARF did not attend- few indigenous representatives did), many developing countries believe that major issues concerning funding and emissions were avoided in Cancun in order to reach some sort of agreement. They wanted an agenda which would put these issues in the forefront, something opposed by the developed countries. This tension between developed and developing countries is a consistent theme in the UNFCCC process.
Much of the action from the standpoint of indigenous interests occurs in the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) and the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technical Advice (SBSTA). These are bodies established by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to provide advice to the Conference of the Parties. Both of these bodies used up three and a half days of the two week session in Bonn to reach agreement on an agenda. While discussions over the agenda were still ongoing, the SBI held a workshop on increased participation of observer organizations. The International Indigenous Peoples Forum on Climate Change (caucus), in which NTEC/NARF actively participate, submitted proposals calling for a wide variety of actions, such as recognizing indigenous peoples as rights holders, not constituency groups, for the presence at the sessions of representatives of indigenous mechanisms such as the Special Rapporteur on Indigenous issues, the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, and for the implementation of Articles 41 and 42 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples which calls on the United Nations itself to honor the Declaration. Ominously, most of the meetings, once they started, were closed to observers.
In SBSTA, Bolivia insisted on a broader view of the REDD+ (Reduction of Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) agenda item than one tied to the concept of carbon storage. A new title for the agenda item was adopted which reads "Methodological guidance for activities relating to reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation and the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries." This ensures the flexibility to have a more broad ranging exploration of the issues relating to REDD+.
SBSTA was charged by the agreement in Cancun with coming up with modalities related to, among other things, the safeguards for indigenous peoples in connection with activities related to REDD+. The caucus submitted numerous recommendations in this regard. Among these, by way of illustration, was the extent to which the following individual and collective rights of indigenous peoples are being respected and secured in national REDD+ programs, policies and strategies, as well as in REDD+ projects, and the measures undertaken - or to be undertaken - in order to ensure for such rights if present efforts are inadequate:
· Rights to land, territories and natural resources;
· Rights to traditional knowledge and practices;
· Rights to self determination and exercise of customary laws, governance and customary land use and forest management;
· Rights to full and effective participation on decision-making on matters that affect Indigenous Peoples and local communities;
· Rights to law enforcement and conflict resolution through traditional governance systems, with local monitoring and reporting of infringements;
· Rights to full and effective participation and consultation of indigenous peoples and local communities, and timely access to adequate information in culturally appropriate manner;
· Right to Free Prior Informed Consent (FPIC); and
· Right to equitable benefit sharing
SBSTA accomplished very little on this issue during the work time remaining after the agenda was agreed upon. The annex to its report contains the outcome of its sessions related to this issues reads as follows in full:
General guidance for submissions and future work regarding: guidance on systems for providing information on how safeguards referred to in appendix I to decision 1/CP.16 are addressed and respected; modalities relating to forest reference emission levels and forest reference levels; and modalities for measuring, reporting and verifying as referred to in appendix II to decision 1/CP.16
1. Guidance on systems for providing information on how safeguards are addressed and respected:
(c) Provision of information;
(d) Potential barriers, including barriers, if any, to providing information, on addressing and respecting safeguards;
(e) Other relevant issues.
2. Guidance for modalities relating to forest reference levels and forest reference emission levels:
(a) Scope and/or purpose;
(b) Characteristics, including elements listed in paragraph 1 of appendix Ito decision lICP.16;
(c) Guidance for the construction;
(d) Process for communication;
(e) Other relevant issues.
3. Guidance on modalities for measuring, reporting and verifying, as referred to in appendix II to decision lICP.16:
(a) Characteristics, including elements listed in paragraph 1 of appendix I to decision lICP.16;
(c) Process for reporting;
(d) Other relevant issues.
From this annex, it is obvious that much work remains to be done and that the issues to be dealt with are crucial to indigenous peoples. An interim session has been set for Panama from October 1-7 and the work will undoubtedly continue in Durban at Conference of the Parties 17 from November 28 to December 9, 2011. It is essential that more representatives of indigenous peoples take an active role in the UNFCCC process because indigenous peoples are the most impacted by climate change and their interests will not be protected without their active insistence.
Kim Gottschalk has been a staff attorney at the Native American Rights Fund since 1982, working primarily on recognition, land claims and international indigenous rights. Kim is a guest contributor.
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