Laura Zanotti, Emily Colón, and Dorothy Hogg
On December 5, 2019, at the UNFCCC COP25 meetings in Madrid, Spain, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Victoria (Vicky) Tauli Corpuz urged negotiators and decision-makers to add provisions for human and indigenous rights in Article 6 of the Paris Agreement and reminded parties to fulfill their obligations of signatories of already ratified agreements and declarations on human rights. At that same time, Vicky noted sole dependence upon action at the international scale was not viable and announced the formation of a new indigenous climate action network where grassroots and on-the-ground efforts can be sustained and linked.
Vicky was a speaker at a Blue Zone event in the Spain Pavilion with two other Human Rights Defenders. This is just one of many events we have seen in the credentialed Blue Zone, located at the IFEMA complex, which draws attention to the need to address human rights, indigenous rights, and other rights when formulating climate action solutions.
Challenges in Madrid
The number of events led or organized by Indigenous Peoples’ organizations in Madrid has been wrought in the face of steep barriers. On October 30, 2019, the organizers of COP25 Santiago, Chile, announced, in the midst of protests, that they would be canceling the COP there that year, which was just shy of a month away. Days later, the UNFCCC confirmed the meetings would still take place but would be relocated to Madrid. While several applauded the quick adjustments, for Indigenous Peoples and other marginalized peoples attending the event, this posed new logistical, geographical, financial, and other barriers to engage in a meeting that already is not easy to access. In a Cultural Survival article, Andrea Carmen states,
“I am disappointed that the COP Secretariat could not wait until Chile resolved the crisis to reschedule, or at least moved it to another location in South or Central America. Many Indigenous Peoples from Chile, the Andes, and the Amazon basin were coordinating to attend. There were also events planned for the Indigenous pavilion in Santiago outside the UN venue for those without credentials to hold meetings, discussions, share developments, and arrange presentations on climate change impacting Indigenous Peoples and solutions based on our own knowledge systems. Large numbers of Indigenous Peoples that planned to be in Chile will not be able to be in Madrid, especially the Peoples from the region,” (Andrea Carmen (Yaqui), executive director of International Indian Treaty Council and member of the UNFCCC Facilitative Working Group for the Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Platform (LCIPP).
Others in the article support this statement, noting concerns about the move and the ability of indigenous leaders and organizations to mobilize in the same way by relocating to Madrid.
Nonetheless, the P2I team sees a strong and growing coalition of different peoples and constituencies, including Indigenous Peoples Organizations, Youth non-governmental organizations, and the Women and gender constituency, who are advocating for rights to be part of the climate change negotiations, and who are also advocating for safeguards in place, public participation, and access to information for climate adaptation and mitigation. This is in the face of a COP which several at the congress feel has been co-opted by corporate sponsorship, privatization, and neoliberal logics.
COP25 Chile/Madrid is taking place in many different spheres. The IFEMA Zone at the Feria de Madrid stop is where the official Blue Zone and Green Zone are housed in the city. While you need to be credentialed to enter the Blue Zone, the Green Zone requires online registration for admittance to the public. In addition, from December 6-13 a parallel event, the Cumbre Social por el Clima is occurring at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid. On its opening day, Minga Indígena, featured an all-day event with indigenous leaders around the world. Finally, the Cumbre de los Pueblos 2019 is still taking place in Santiago, Chile.
Article 6 of the Paris Agreement “aims at promoting integrated, holistic and balanced approaches that will assist governments in implementing their NDCs through voluntary international cooperation”. The international cooperation mechanism that is being debated, negotiated, and developed at this COP, thus, has implications for non-market and market-based approaches to emissions. The urging of Vicky to include human rights and other rights in Article 6 would firmly locate rights in the operational part of the Paris Agreement, whereas now rights are only mentioned in the preamble.
Wrapping up the week from the Climate March to Nix Article 6
From a climate march on Friday December 6, 2019 that brought together more than half a million people for climate action to several side events that featured indigenous rights, some are calling for removing Article 6 altogether as its emphasis on carbon markets and financing is an antithesis to climate action. As we move forward to the second week, we repeat some of the ways some Indigenous Peoples at the congress are calling for support:
Some ways you can be ambitious, and support Indigenous Peoples this COP25 are:
In the field...
Follow our team as we cover international environmental policy making meetings.
Dr. Kimberly R. Marion Suiseeya, Department of Political Science, Northwestern University
Dr. Laura Zanotti, Department of Anthropology, Purdue University
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