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Indigenous Peoples Statement on Climate Change

Statement of the International Forum of Indigenous Peoples on Climate Change (IIPFCC) to the 29th  Session of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technical Advice (SBSTA), during the 14th Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP14) of the United Nations Framework Conference on Climate Change (UNFCCC)

December 1, 2008


The International Indigenous Peoples Forum on Climate Change (IIPFCC), representing IPs from different parts of the world met from 27-29 November 2008 here in Poznan, Poland, to prepare for the Fourteenth Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC.

We, the Indigenous Peoples have suffered the worst impacts of climate change without having contributed to its creation.

We must not be placed in the position of suffering from mitigation strategies which we believe have offered false solutions to the problem at hand. And even worse, many of the mitigation and adaptation schemes being discussed in UNFCCC and related processes threaten our rights and our very existence.

Mitigation projects, including REDD and CDM, implemented by Parties and private sector are carried out without the free prior and informed consent of Indigenous Peoples there by affecting our livelihoods and violating our human rights.

These projects are encroaching on areas of lands sacred to us, and producing the forced eviction of many of our brothers and sisters from their ancestral territories. 
Furthermore, proposed 'scientific' mitigation and adaptation solutions, methodologies and technologies being discussed here and elsewhere do not reflect Indigenous Peoples' cosmovision and our ancestral knowledge.

So-called 'consultations' with us, often only take the form of simply informing our communities. Consultations should not be limited to specific communities and organizations but should involve all affected and involved indigenous peoples, including our representative organizations.

We the Indigenous Peoples demand full participation in the implementation of all areas of work concerning Climate Change and Forests.

We put the following recommendations forward:

  • To ensure a rights-based approach in the design and implementation of climate change policies, programmes and projects. In particular, the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples must be recognized, implemented and mainstreamed in all of the Convention activities;
  • To ensure the right to Free Prior and Informed Consent in line with internationally recognized standards of good governance;
  • To develop methodologies and tools for impacts and vulnerability assessments  in consultation with indigenous peoples;
  • To recognize and use traditional knowledge and integrating it with scientific knowledge in assessing impacts and coming up with adaptations;
  • To ensure the proper capacity building of indigenous peoples in technologies for adaptation;
  • To immediately  suspend  all REDD initiatives in Indigenous territories until Indigenous Peoples' rights are fully recognized and promoted;
  • To include  indigenous peoples' experts in the implementation of phase II of Nairobi Programme of Work;
  • To set up a disaster reduction strategies and means to address loss and damage associated with climate change mitigation projects and policies, impacts in indigenous peoples territories;
Thank you.

Note: The International Forum of Indigenous Peoples on Climate Change (IIPFCC) is the Indigenous Peoples Caucus convened during the UNFCCC COP14. The Caucus represents Indigenous participants from the North and South.

Photo Courtesy ABC News

Save the Planet from Capitalism

Letter from President Evo Morales about Climate Change and the International crisis

Save the Planet from Capitalism

Sisters and brothers:

Today, our Mother Earth is ill. From the beginning of the 21st century we have lived the hottest years of the last thousand years. Global warming is generating abrupt changes in the weather: the retreat of glaciers and the decrease of the polar ice caps; the increase of the sea level and the flooding of coastal areas, where approximately 60% of the world population live; the increase in the processes of desertification and the decrease of fresh water sources; a higher frequency in natural disasters that the communities of the earth suffer[1]; the extinction of animal and vegetal species; and the spread of diseases in areas that before were free from those diseases.
One of the most tragic consequences of the climate change is that some nations and territories are the condemned to disappear by the increase of the sea level.
Everything began with the industrial revolution in 1750, which gave birth to the capitalist system. In two and a half centuries, the so called "developed" countries have consumed a large part of the fossil fuels created over five million centuries.

Competition and the thirst for profit without limits of the capitalist system are destroying the planet. Under Capitalism we are not human beings but consumers. Under Capitalism mother earth does not exist, instead there are raw materials. Capitalism is the source of the asymmetries and imbalances in the world. It generates luxury, ostentation and waste for a few, while millions in the world die from hunger in the world. In the hands of Capitalism everything becomes a commodity: the water, the soil, the human genome, the ancestral cultures, justice, ethics, death ... and life itself. Everything, absolutely everything, can be bought and sold and under Capitalism. And even "climate change" itself has become a business.

"Climate change" has placed all humankind before great choice: to continue in the ways of capitalism and death, or to start down the path of harmony with nature and respect for life.

In the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, the developed countries and economies in transition committed to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by at least 5% below the 1990 levels, through the implementation of different mechanisms among which market mechanisms predominate.

Until 2006, greenhouse effect gases, far from being reduced, have increased by 9.1% in relation to the 1990 levels, demonstrating also in this way the breach of commitments by the developed countries.

The market mechanisms applied in the developing countries[2] have not accomplished a significant reduction of greenhouse effect gas emissions.
Just as well as the market is incapable of regulating global financial and productive system, the market is unable to regulate greenhouse effect gas emissions and will only generate a big business for financial agents and major corporations.

The earth is much more important than stock exchanges of Wall Street and the world.

While the United States and the European Union allocate 4,100 billion dollars to save the bankers from a financial crisis that they themselves have caused, programs on climate change get 313 times less, that is to say, only 13 billion dollars.

The resources for climate change are unfairly distributed. More resources are directed to reduce emissions (mitigation) and less to reduce the effects of climate change that all the countries suffer (adaptation)[3]. The vast majority of resources flow to those countries that have contaminated the most, and not to the countries where we have preserved the environment most. Around 80% of the Clean Development Mechanism projects are concentrated in four emerging countries.

Capitalist logic promotes a paradox in which the sectors that have contributed the most to deterioration of the environment are those that benefit the most from climate change programs.

At the same time, technology transfer and the financing for clean and sustainable development of the countries of the South have remained just speeches.

The next summit on Climate Change in Copenhagen must allow us to make a leap forward if we want to save Mother Earth and humanity. For that purpose the following proposals for the process from Poznan to Copenhagen:

Attack the structural causes of climate change

1)    Debate the structural causes of climate change. As long as we do not change the capitalist system for a system based in complementarity, solidarity and harmony between the people and nature, the measures that we adopt will be palliatives that will limited and precarious in character. For us, what has failed is the model of "living better", of unlimited development, industrialisation without frontiers, of modernity that deprecates history, of increasing accumulation of goods at the expense of others and nature. For that reason we promote the idea of Living Well, in harmony with other human beings and with our Mother Earth.

2)    Developed countries need to control their patterns of consumption - of luxury and waste - especially the excessive consumption of fossil fuels.  Subsidies of fossil fuel, that reach 150-250 billions of dollars[4], must be progressively eliminated. It is fundamental to develop alternative forms of power, such as solar, geothermal, wind and hydroelectric both at small and medium scales.

3)    Agrofuels are not an alternative, because they put the production of foodstuffs for transport before the production of food for human beings. Agrofuels expand the agricultural frontier destroying forests and biodiversity, generate monocropping, promote land concentration, deteriorate soils, exhaust water sources, contribute to rises in food prices and, in many cases, result in more consumption of more energy than is produced.

Substantial commitments to emissions reduction that are met

4)    Strict fulfilment by 2012 of the commitments[5] of the developed countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least by 5% below the 1990 levels. It is unacceptable that the countries that polluted the planet throughout the course of history make statements about larger reductions in the future while not complying with their present commitments.

5)    Establish new minimum commitments for the developed countries of greenhouse gas emission reduction of 40% by 2020 and 90% by for 2050, taking as a starting point 1990 emission levels. These minimum commitments must be met internally in developed countries and not through flexible market mechanisms that allow for the purchase of certified emissions reduction certificates to continue polluting in their own country. Likewise, monitoring mechanisms must be established for the measuring, reporting and verifying that are transparent and accessible to the public, to guarantee the compliance of commitments.

6)    Developing countries not responsible for the historical pollution must preserve the necessary space to implement an alternative and sustainable form of development that does not repeat the mistakes of savage industrialisation that has brought us to the current situation. To ensure this process, developing countries need, as a prerequisite, finance and technology transfer.

An Integral Financial Mechanism to address ecological debt

7)     Acknowledging the historical ecological debt that they owe to the planet, developed countries must create an Integral Financial Mechanism to support developing countries in: implementation of their plans and programmes for adaptation to and mitigation of climate change; the innovation, development and transfer of technology; in the preservation and improvement of the sinks and reservoirs; response actions to the serious natural disasters caused by climate change; and the carrying out of sustainable and eco-friendly development plans.

8)    This Integral Financial Mechanism, in order to be effective, must count on a contribution of at least 1% of the GDP in developed countries[6] and other contributions from taxes on oil and gas, financial transactions, sea and air transport, and the profits of transnational companies. 

9)    Contributions from developed countries must be additional to Official Development Assistance (ODA), bilateral aid or aid channelled through organisms not part of the United Nations. Any finance outside the UNFCCC cannot be considered as the fulfilment of developed country's commitments under the Convention.

10)  Finance has to be directed to the plans or national programmes of the different States and not to projects that follow market logic.

11) Financing must not be concentrated just in some developed countries but has to give priority to the countries that have contributed less to greenhouse gas emissions, those that preserve nature and are suffering the impact of climate change.

12) The Integral Financial Mechanism must be under the coverage of the United Nations, not under the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and other intermediaries such as the World Bank and regional development banks; its management must be collective, transparent and non-bureaucratic. Its decisions must be made by all member countries, especially by developing countries, and not by the donors or bureaucratic administrators.

Technology Transfer to developing countries

13) Innovation and technology related to climate changes must be within the public domain, not under any private monopolistic patent regime that obstructs and makes technology transfer more expensive to developing countries.

14) Products that are the fruit of public financing for technology innovation and development of have to be placed within the public domain and not under a private regime of patents[7], so that they can be freely accessed by developing countries.

Encourage and improve the system of voluntary and compulsory licenses so that all countries can access products already patented quickly and free of cost. Developed countries cannot treat patents and intellectual property rights as something "sacred" that has to be preserved at any cost. The regime of flexibilities available for the intellectual property rights in the cases of serious problems for public health has to be adapted and substantially enlarged to heal Mother Earth.

16) Recover and promote indigenous peoples practices in harmony with nature which have proven to be sustainable through centuries.

Adaptation and mitigation with the participation of all the people

17) Promote mitigation actions, programs and plans with the participation of local communities and indigenous people in the framework of full respect for and implementation of the United Nations Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The best mechanism to confront the challenge of climate change are not market mechanisms, but conscious, motivated, and well organized human beings endowed with an identity of their own.

18) The reduction of the emissions from deforestation and forest degradation must be based on a mechanism of direct compensation from developed to developing countries, through a sovereign implementation that ensures broad participation of local communities, and a mechanism for monitoring, reporting and verifying that is transparent and public.

A UN for the Environment and Climate Change

19) We need a World Environment and Climate Change Organization to which multilateral trade and financial organizations are subordinated, so as to promote a different model of development that environmentally friendly and resolves the profound problems of impoverishment.  This organization must have effective follow-up, verification and sanctioning mechanisms to ensure that the present and future agreements are complied with.

20) It is fundamental to structurally transform the World Trade Organization, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the international economic system as a whole, in order to guarantee fair and complementary trade, as well as financing without conditions for sustainable development that avoids the waste of natural resources and fossil fuels in the production processes, trade and product transport.

In this negotiation process towards Copenhagen, it is fundamental to guarantee the participation of our people as active stakeholders at a national, regional and worldwide level, especially taking into account those sectors most affected, such as indigenous peoples who have always promoted the defense of Mother Earth.

Humankind is capable of saving the earth if we recover the principles of solidarity, complementarity, and harmony with nature in contraposition to the reign of competition, profits and rampant consumption of natural resources.
November 28, 2008
Evo Morales Ayma
President of Bolivia

[1] Due to the "Niña" phenomenon, that becomes more frequent as a result of the climate change, Bolivia has lost 4% of its GDP in 2007. 
[2] Known as the Clean Development Mechanism
[3] At the present there is only one Adaptation Fund with approximately 500 million dollars for more than 150 developing countries. According to the UNFCCC Secretary, 171 billion dollars are required for adaptation, and 380 billion dollars are required for mitigation.
[4] Stern report 
[5] Kyoto Protocol, Art. 3.
[6] The Stern Review has suggested one percent of global GDP, which represents less than 700 billion dollars per year.
[7] According to UNCTAD (1998), Public financing in developing countries contributes with 40% of the resources for innovation and development of technology.

Image from the website It’s Getting Hot In Here

Climate Activists Invade DC Offices of Environmental Defense

Press Release from Rising Tide North America - 1 December , 2008

Washington, DC-As the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change opened today in Poznan, Poland, grassroots climate activists took over the Washington DC office of Environmental Defense. The activists stated that they had targeted ED, one of the largest environmental organizations in the world, because of the organization's key role in promoting the discredited approach of carbon trading as a solution to climate change.

Dr. Rachel Smolker of Global Justice Ecology Project and Global Forest Coalition read a statement, which said in part, "My father was one of the founders of this organization, which sadly I am now ashamed of. The Kyoto Protocol, the European Emissions Trading Scheme and virtually every other initiative for reducing emissions have adopted their market approaches. So far they have utterly failed, serving only to provide huge profits to the world's most polluting industries. Instead of protecting the environment, ED now seems primarily concerned with protecting corporate bottom lines. I can hear my father rolling over in his grave."

The activists rearranged furniture in the office, illustrating how marketing carbon is "like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic." Others held signs reading "Keep the cap, ditch the trade" and "Carbon trading is an environmental offense."

Leo Cerda, an indigenous activist with Rising Tide Ecuador said, "ED wants to turn the atmosphere and forests into private property, and then give it away to the most polluting industries in the form of pollution allowances that can be bought and sold. Not only is this an ineffective way to control emissions, it is also a disaster for the poor and indigenous peoples who are not party to these markets and are most impacted by climate change."

ED has been key in establishing the U.S. Climate Action Partnership, a business consortium advocating for a cap and trade system with extremely weak emissions reductions. US CAP allows polluters like Duke Energy, Shell, BP, DuPont, and Dow Chemical to claim they are green while continuing with business as usual. In recognition, activists awarded ED the "Corporate Greenwash Award," a three foot tall green paintbrush. "We think this award is appropriate since Environmental Defense spends more time painting polluters green than actually defending the environment," said Matt Wallace of Rising Tide North America.

Opposition to carbon trading is growing as it becomes apparent that market based schemes do little to fight climate change while helping corporations rake in profits. Earlier this year, over 50 groups came together in the US to denounce carbon trading in a Declaration Against the Use of Carbon Trading Schemes to Address Climate Change. Globally, hundreds of environmental, social justice, and indigenous groups have come together to oppose such market based initiatives as inherently unsustainable and ineffective in creating a just
transition away from fossil fuels.

Off-site Media Contact: Matt Wallace, Rising Tide North America, ph: 828-280-3462

On-site Contact: Dr. Rachel Smolker, Global Justice Ecology Project and Global Forest Coalition ph: 802-735-7794

Click Here for Full Story and More Images

In This Issue

Indigenous Peoples Statement on Climate Change

Save the Planet from Capitalism

Climate Activists Invade DC Offices of Environmental Defense

Indigenous Environmental and Economic Justice
As you all can see there is a great deal of activity and participation from Indigenous People and those that truly care about the future of our Mother Earth!

IEN is fully involved in the UNFCCC COP14, as it has been since the inception of these meetings. IEN staff, affiliates and partners carry on the struggle to find the means to continue the work of getting governments and business to hear us.... really hear us and take actions accordingly.

Indigenous people are the first to suffer the consequences of fossil fuel mining and production - our ways are that of the Earth - hunting, fishing, gathering and growing. Pollution and loss of natural habitat constantly threaten our environmental and cultural resources.

These activities require not only participation but funding... so to help us with those needs we are offering some unique items that you can purchase to help us with our work. These items have been graciously and unselfishly donated by a group of amazing artists and supporters.

Below are images, descriptions and the links to our eBay auctions.

You can help us and in return you will have a unique gift for that someone special this holiday season.

Thank you for your continued support!

IEN Auction Items:
An Original 20' x 20' Art Print by Scott Hill
This first piece is a 20' x 20' pencil black and white print by local Bemijdi, MN.artist, Scott Hill. The print is shrink wrapped with a hard backing.
Bid Now Link
An Original 20' x 20' Art Print by Scott Hill
This piece is a 20' x 20' pencil black and white print by local Bemijdi, MN.artist, Scott Hill. The print is shrink wrapped with a hard backing.
Bid Now Link!
Great Blue' a lino cut by Sandy Eastoak
Great Blue' a lino cut by Sandy Eastoak. The picture itself is 3 1/2' x 9' the frame is 8 x 10 is an artist living in Northern California who paints images of watersheds, totem animals, and all our relations. See her work at
Bid Now Link!
The artist statement on the "Guardian" series: Some of the new paintings I am working on titled "Guardian", are branching along the idea of stewardship and conscious action. They are both a self portrait and are also intended to be a portrait of human action. Each one of us can have a positive or negative indirect effect on preserving the worlds fragile ecology. We can do this by being mindful throughout our daily routine of shopping, eating, and choice of transportation. I wanted to express a sense of empowerment and also caution and fragility, The basic idea being that the preservation of a sustainable future is in our hands.

Please note that the print that we will provide is numbered 100 out of an edition of 100.
Bid Now Link!
Indigenous Environmental Network Silent Auction Fundraiser Items Requested
Dear IEN friends and supporters:

The Indigenous Environmental Network is continuing to collect items for our first ever online silent auction!

We are respectfully asking our friends and supporters to donate items for our upcoming silent auction fundraiser. This grassroots fundraiser will allow us to become less dependent on foundation dollars as well as provide the opportunity for a fun and creative way to let people know about IEN and the work we do with Indigenous communities around Environmental Justice!

With the holiday season right around the corner our silent auction will allow bidders to support IEN as well as get wonderful and unique gifts for loved ones.

Please consider a donation for our auction. If you would like to donate an item, please contact our office at 218-751-4967 and ask for Simone or send an email to

Thank you for your kind attention and support!


Tom Goldtooth
Executive Director, Indigenous Environmental Network
The Indigenous Environmental Network • PO Box 485 • Bemidji • MN • 56619