Indigenous Flotilla of Kayaks and Press Conference Demanding True Climate Solutions at COP21
By Indigenous Environmental Network
During the COP21 climate talks in Paris, Indigenous Peoples from the Arctic to the Amazon and their allies will gather to demand real climate solutions, including bottom-up initiatives originating in Indigenous knowledge, culture, and spirituality.
What: Sunday’s event will feature an all-indigenous flotilla of kayaks followed by a press conference featuring Indigenous leaders from the Americas offering solutions to stave off the worst of climate change and protect Mother Earth.
The launching of a declaration calling on world leaders to keep fossil fuels in the ground, led by Indigenous peoples and signed by over 150 organizations.
The signing announcement from Indigenous women leaders from North and South America of a treaty to protect Mother Earth.
Presentation of the Kawsak Sacha “Living Forest” proposal from the Amazon rainforest by the Kichwa Indigenous people of Sarayaku.
Indigenous flotilla on the Bassin de la Villette, including Sarayaku’s “Canoe of Life” which has traveled 6000 miles to Paris with a message from the Amazon.
When: The flotilla action will start Sunday, December 6th at 2 pm local time, immediately followed by a press conference
Where: Péniche Antipode barge on the Bassin de la Villete Canal. 55 Quai de la Seine, 75019 (Closest metro station: Riquet on the 7 Line)
Who: The press conference will be led by Indigenous peoples organizations and movements including Indigenous Environmental Network; Idle No More, and the Kichwa community of Sarayaku from Ecuador.
Indigenous spokespeople speaking at the press conference:
Felix Santi (Kichwa): President of the Kichwa community of Sarayaku in the Ecuadorian Amazon, speaking about the Canoe of Life and the Living Forest concept;
Faith Gemmill (Gwich’in & Pit River/Wintu): Executive Director of Resisting Environmental Destruction on Indigenous Lands, speaking on the Declaration to Keep Fossil Fuels in the Ground;
Casey Camp-Horinek (Ponca): Native rights activist, environmentalist and actress, speaking on the Indigenous Women’s Treaty; and
Ena Santi (Kichwa): Sarayaku Council Member in charge of Women’s Issues, speaking on the Indigenous Women’s Treaty
Other spokespeople available for comment post-press conference:
Tom Goldtooth (Dine’ and Dakota): Executive Director of the Indigenous Environmental Network
Leila Salazar-López: Executive Director of Amazon Watch
Eric Pica: Executive Director of Friends of the Earth
Esperanza Martínez: Director of Acción Ecológica
Lindsey Allen: Executive Director of Rainforest Action Network
May Boeve: Executive Director of 350.org
Mary Anne Hitt: Director of Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign
Indigenous flotilla of several canoes and at least 25 kayaks adorned with Indigenous art work representing the different Indigenous cultures participating in the event;
Colorful banners and flags; and
Indigenous representatives wearing their traditional attire and regalia
PARIS Saturday – December 5th – On Friday December 4th, Indigenous Peoples from around the globe demonstrated inside the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC/COP21) convention centre at Le Bourget. The protest was carried out to highlight objections to the proposed removal of language pertaining to both the rights of Indigenous Peoples and Human Rightsfrom Article 2.2 of the draft Paris Accord, ending the first week of negotiations. Norway, the UK and the EU have been key players in this removal of the rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Despite such vocal objections from Indigenous Peoples and their allies, the operative text of the Paris Accord, as it stands today, has had the rights of Indigenous Peoples language/clauses removed, and there is now a proposal to have ‘Human Rights’ removed as well. At present, this leaves the rights of Indigenous Peoples only reflected within the preamble – which is purely aspirational text, and not legally binding or enforceable in any way.
“The inclusion of the rights of Indigenous Peoples text, in addition to Human Rights text is crucial. A Western, non-Indigenous evaluation of Human Rights does not necessarily adequately protect our rights as Indigenous Peoples,” statesPrincess Daazhraii Johnson, REDOIL Alaska spokesperson.
“Many of our Indigenous peoples still live off the land, living a subsistence-based lifestyle. And given that many of the world’s fossil fuel reserves are on or adjacent to Indigenous lands, we must protect our collective rights to self-determine our relationship to Mother Earth by rejecting false solutions to addressing climate change,” concluded Ms. Johnson.
In addition, many countries do not recognize the collective rights of Indigenous Peoples as Human Rights. The Western international human rights system is oriented towards individual rights, and so a general reference to human rights does not adequately protect the collective rights of Indigenous Peoples.
“At the moment the rights of Indigenous Peoples all over the globe are being violated by ‘green climate projects’ – such as hydropower dams – in the name of ‘climate mitigation’. If such violations are happening now, imagine what will come with a legally binding document, where the rights of Indigenous Peoples are not guaranteed,” stated Eriel Deranger, member of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation.
Positions against both the exclusion of Human Rights and Indigenous Rights in the operative text are said to be based on concerns about potential legal liability, if climate change is judged to have violated those rights.
With the draft Paris agreement heavily focused on voluntary market-based technological solutions – such as forest and conservation offsets – Indigenous Peoples are gravely concerned that without concrete Indigenous Rights language (and safeguards from privatisation) codified in the operative text, they will be further displaced from their lands. Green economy schemes (like the World bank REDD+) provide financial mechanisms for industrialised nations to justify expansion of fossil fuel regimes – such as Canada’s controversial Tar Sands giga-project in Northern Alberta, or offshore drilling in Alaska’s outer continental shelf. This disproportionately impacts Indigenous Peoples of the North, all the while simultaneously privatising Indigenous Peoples lands in the South for the purposes of laundering Western carbon pollution, via the above mentioned forest and conservation offsets.
“Our fight to get Indigenous Peoples Rights included in the operative text, is non-negotiable,” states Crystal Lameman,Treaty Coordinator and Communications Manager for the Beaver Lake Cree Nation. “We belong in this treaty, we have a place in this discussion. Our future and the future of our children is not up for negotiation. The removal of operative Article 2.2 is the erasure of our existence as People of Color, Indigenous Peoples and frontline communities because we surely will be the first to experience climate catastrophe”
As we enter the second week of negotiations of the Paris Accord, Indigenous People will continue to lobby and challenge those who oppose the inclusion of Human Rights and the rights of Indigenous Peoples into the operative text.
“We cannot negotiate a climate agreement at this critical time without the recognition of the rights of Indigenous Peoples, who are on the front lines of the impacts of climate change and the innovators of solutions we need to stabilize our climate. For the benefit of all human beings, we are fighting for a meaningful outcome from these negotiations, and the rights of Indigenous Peoples MUST be included in Article 2.2 of the Paris Accord,” stated Tom Goldtooth, executive director of the Indigenous Environmental Network.
Draft of Paris Agreement from December 5th 2015 DOWNLOAD
North America Dallas Goldtooth, Indigenous Environmental Network, firstname.lastname@example.org, 1-708-515-6158
EU Suzanne Dhaliwal, Indigenous Environmental Network, UK Tar Sands Network email@example.com +447772694327