"For the first time, the world's leading scientists have confirmed what we have always known: respecting the land rights of indigenous peoples and local communities is an immediate and practical solution to climate change."
To avoid a full-blown climate crisis and global food shortages, ending the use of fossil fuels will not be enough: we must also restore and preserve land and dramatically change the way we eat, says a new UN report.
The world must take urgent action and stop cutting down tropical forests, draining peatlands, expanding deserts and degrading soils, and change the way we produce and manage food, or risk not being able to feed ourselves, according to an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) called “Special Report on Climate and Earth,” written by more than 100 scientists from 52 countries.
Two years later, the report draws its data from more than 7,000 scientific articles. More than half of the authors are from developing countries, and the report stands out for including the vital contributions of indigenous peoples and local communities.
“For the first time, the world's leading scientists have confirmed what we have always known: respecting the land rights of indigenous peoples and local communities is an immediate and practical solution to climate change”, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, Rapporteur UN special on the rights of indigenous peoples, he told Motherboard in an email.
The IPCC report makes it clear that the world needs to transform its relationship with the land if we are to survive as a species, Tauli-Corpuz said: "Indigenous peoples can lead this transformation."
Humans have increased our footprint to 73 percent of the planet's ice-free surface, transforming it from uncultivated carbon sinks into large emitters of greenhouse gases.
In less than 50 years, more than 2 million square miles of forest have been converted to agriculture, much of it intensive and using pesticides, compacting the soil and increasing erosion.
At the same time, meat consumption has doubled, replacing plant forms of protein and resulting in a 70 percent increase in methane emissions from cattle and sheep. Simply replacing meat protein with beans, lentils and nuts can have a significant impact, according to the report.
Scientific modeling indicates that we will need large areas of land to extract carbon dioxide from the air and limit warming to 1.5 ° C.
Indigenous peoples already manage at least 22 percent, or 218 gigatons, of the total carbon found in tropical and subtropical forests, an alliance of indigenous and community leaders from 42 countries said in a statement to policy makers. According to the World Bank, indigenous peoples own, occupy or use a quarter of the world's surface and protect 80 percent of the world's remaining biodiversity. Colonial governments formally recognize their property rights at only 10 percent.
The IPCC report found that innovative combinations of indigenous, local and scientific knowledge can contribute to overcoming the combined challenges of climate change and desertification, and further cited indigenous knowledge, land stewardship and land rights as possible. solutions.
Land titling and recognition programs, particularly those that authorize and respect indigenous and community tenure, can lead to better management of forests, including carbon storage, primarily by providing legally secure mechanisms for the exclusions of others, said a leaked copy of the report, although this was removed from the final version.
The report also recommends traditional agroecological practices such as local management of forests, water, soil and fertility, local use of seeds, improved grazing, and ecological restoration based on indigenous knowledge and practices. Similar findings from the French think tank IDDRI last December showed that an agroecological food system in Europe could reduce emissions by 40 percent compared to emissions in 2010.
“We have managed our lands and forests sustainably for generations,” said Tauli-Corpuz. “If our rights are recognized, we can continue to do so for generations to come. And if the world learns from our traditional knowledge, there may still be hope for all of us. "