By LYN V. RAMO
Indigenous People’s Watch
Posted by Bulatlat
BAGUIO CITY – Members of the Philippine delegation to the Global Summit on Climate Change held in Anchorage, Alaska, in the US last April shared their insights on climate change during the Cordillera Conference on Climate Change here.
The international summit held in Anchorage, Alaska in the US on April 20-24 gathered indigenous peoples from Asia, Arctic, Pacific, Carribean, North America, Latin America, Russia and Africa. In a declaration, participants to the summit, expressed alarm over the accelerating climate devastation brought about by unsustainable development.
The delegation from the Philippines included a representative from the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP). Five representatives of Tebtebba Foundation, a Baguio-based international center for policy research and education, were also part of the Philippine delegation.
Chester Tuazon, a member of the Kankanaey tribe from Tadian, Mountain Province who is now residing in La Trinidad, Benguet, represented the Cordillera Peoples’ Alliance (CPA). He was with six other participants from the Cordillera region who shared their insights on the global summit.
“We are experiencing profound and disproportionate adverse impacts on our cultures, human and environmental health, human rights, well-being, traditional livelihoods, food systems and food sovereignty, local infrastructure, economic viability, and our very survival as indigenous peoples,” the Anchorage Declaration read.
Saying the “Mother Earth is no longer in a period of climate change, but in climate crisis,” the IP Climate Change Summit delegates insisted on an immediate end to the destruction and desecration of the elements of life.
The participants to the global summit called on the United Nations Climate Change Conference’s Fifth Conference of Parties (COP) to support a binding emissions reduction target for developed countries of at least 45 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 and at least 95 percent by 2050.
Carbon emissions from developed countries account for 80 percent of the total emissions worldwide but underdeveloped and developing countries get the burden of its effects, according to Ben Solang, an environmental activist here.
Solang heads the Center for Development Programs in the Cordillera (CDPC).
Pointing to the root causes of climate change to the use of carbon-emitting coal and oil, participants also called upon states to work towards decreasing dependency on fossil fuels, as they further called for a just transition to decentralized renewable energy economies, sources and systems owned and controlled by our local communities to achieve energy security and sovereignty.
“We challenge States to abandon false solutions to climate change that negatively impact on Indigenous Peoples’ rights, lands, air, oceans, forests, territories and waters. These include nuclear energy, large-scale dams, geo-engineering techniques, “clean coal”, agro-fuels, plantations, and market based mechanisms such as carbon trading, the Clean Development Mechanism, and forest offsets,” the Anchorage Declaration also stated.
Tuazon said indigenous peoples from all regions of the world depend upon the natural environment. Their rich and detailed traditional knowledge reflect and embody a cultural and spiritual relationship with the land, ocean and wildlife.
“Human activity, however, is changing the world’s climate and altering the natural environment to which IPs are so closely attached to and on which they so heavily rely,” said Tuazon.
Interacting with other IPs during the Summit in Alaska, Tuazon noted that even Africans who used to get several wives, are now affected by the decreasing and limited resources. “These Africans said they could no longer afford to have several wives because of income that has become too little to feed the growing family,” Tuazon said jestingly but on a serious note.
Indigenous delegates were selected from each of the United Nations Permanent Fund Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) regions, with a view to ensuring balanced representation of professional expertise, gender balance and stakeholder participation within the available funds.
Additional participants include both indigenous representatives and observers, who were interested in attending the Summit and were able to fund their own costs.
Four simultaneous sessions on relevant topics included discussions on health, well-being and food security; traditional knowledge, contemporary knowledge and decision-making; environmental stewardship and natural resource ownership and management; and energy generation and use in traditional territories of indigenous peoples.
The Alaska summit hoped to enable indigenous peoples from all regions of the globe to exchange their knowledge and experience in adapting to the impacts of climate change, and to develop key messages and recommendations to be articulated to the world at the Conference of Parties (COP) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Copenhagen, Denmark in December 2009, according to UNPFII Chair Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, Tebtebba executive director. (Bulatlat.com)