By Rachel Smith, IFIP Program Coordinator
The [IPCC Climate Change and Land] report makes it clear that recognizing the rights of the world’s Indigenous Peoples, local communities, and the women within these groups is a scalable climate solution, and that all actors should make us partners in climate protection efforts.
Indigenous + Community Response to IPCC, August 2019
In August 2019, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a Special Report on Climate Change and Land which included analyses of greenhouse gas emissions, land use and sustainable land management in relation to climate change adaptation and mitigation, desertification, land degradation and food security. IPCC is widely accepted as the authority on the status of climate change and their comprehensive reports and recommendations are intended to inform the policy decisions of governments and large international organizations. The IPCC assembles their reports by reviewing and evaluating published peer-reviewed scientific research. Information or knowledge not published in a peer-review journal or article (e.g. traditional knowledge or oral tradition) is typically not considered by IPCC authors during the process of completing a report.
Of the almost 50 reports released since 1988, the Special Report on Climate and Land was the first time an IPCC report recognized the importance of securing Indigenous and community land rights as a means to mitigate and adapt to climate change. The report states that insecure land tenure and a lack of recognition of customary access to land diminishes the adaptation and mitigation capacities of local communities and organizations. Furthermore, the report supports land policies (such as, “customary land tenure, community mapping, redistribution decentralization, co-management, regulation of rental markets”) which provide communities with the security and flexibility to combat climate change.
On the same day the Climate and Land Report was released, a response was issued by network of 42 Indigenous and community organizations representing 76 percent of the world’s tropical forests and 1.6 billion hectares of land. The response stated, “We—Indigenous Peoples and local communities—play a critical role in stewarding and safeguarding the world’s lands and forests. For the first time, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report released today recognizes that strengthening our rights is a critical solution to the climate crisis.” The inclusion of Indigenous and local communities in the IPCC report was not mere happenstance. It was part of strategy put in motion by Indigenous and community organizations and their NGO partners. These Indigenous-led organizations set the objectives and messaging; and funding to support the process was provided by Climate and Land Use Alliance (CLUA), a collaborative of foundations that share a common belief that forests and sustainable land use are essential parts of the global response to climate change.
Mobilizing international funding in support of Indigenous and traditional communities’ rights to manage and protect their forests is a primary focus for CLUA; however, amongst US foundations more broadly, international funding to Indigenous Peoples (IP) represents only a small fraction of total giving. CLUA recognized the need for greater support for credible scientific research demonstrating the climate and ecosystem benefits of Indigenous land titling. This evidence base was imperative to influencing and mobilizing increased international funding in support Indigenous and traditional communities’ land rights. Informed by the work on Indigenous organizations and NGOs working on these issues, CLUA developed a strategy to support Indigenous peoples and local communities in securing their land and resource rights, including by specifically informing and impacting multilateral, bilateral and large international donor giving to support Indigenous land rights. This strategy included:
Convening national and regional networks of indigenous and forest communities to share experiences, lessons, and priorities with one another and other organizations supporting their aims.
Supporting the development and communication of a strong evidence for the economic, environmental, and social benefits of secure indigenous and community rights.