Cry at COP 20: "Indigenous peoples are the land"

Cry at COP 20:

The 21-year-old is the daughter of Jorge Ríos, an indigenous leader who was assassinated in September for defending the forests of his Alto Tamaya-Saweto community, in the Ucayali region of the Peruvian jungle.

His death and that of three other leaders in the area are attributed by his relatives to the illegal loggers, which is why they demanded on Friday the 5th at the COP facilities the titling of their lands.

Like the Asháninkas, the global indigenous demand at the annual conference of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) focuses on the recognition of their territories, and with it the protection of forests and respect for ancestral knowledge and collective rights of indigenous peoples.

About 100 million hectares are missing per owner in the eight countries of the South American Amazon, according to data from the Coordinator of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon Basin (COICA).

While in Peru, from where the widows of the Alto Tamaya-Saweto community cry out their pain, there are still 663 native communities without property titles, according to the non-governmental Instituto del Bien Común.

The demand for land titling is related to the implementation of the projects and programs of the Reduction of Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) mechanism for developing countries of the South.

In the agreements adopted at COP 16, held in the Mexican resort of Cancun in 2010, safeguards were precisely included to avoid social or environmental damage in the indigenous territories where REDD takes place.

In the current Lima, indigenous organizations demand that the States parties include in the reports on the safeguards that they must present to the UNFCCC, indicators on biodiversity, the health of the peoples, land titling, ancestral knowledge, among other aspects said Grace Balawag of the Kankanaey people of the Philippines.

These indicators and others will make it possible to measure the full participation of indigenous peoples in mitigating global warming, the vice president of the Global Alliance of Indigenous Peoples on Climate Change and Sustainable Development told IPS.

Balawag, together with other native companions, asked that indigenous peoples be incorporated into national forest monitoring systems, since they have proven to be capable of conserving their lands thanks to their ancestral knowledge.

Since 2009, the Alliance has participated in international conferences on the subject and includes 17 indigenous organizations from 13 countries in Africa, Latin America and Asia, who face various threats to their territories.

In some cases, indigenous communities suffer the impact of extractive activities such as mining or oil, Tarcila Rivera, spokesperson for the Continental Link of Indigenous Women of the Americas, told IPS.

Meanwhile, in others, indigenous peoples must even face illicit activities that put the lives of their populations at risk, the president of the Center for Indigenous Cultures of Peru (Chirapaq) also explained to IPS.

More than 93 percent of mining, oil, gas, logging and agriculture activities are found on territories inhabited by indigenous peoples and local communities in eight countries with tropical forests, according to research by the consulting firm Proyecto Muden for the Rights and Rights Initiative. Resources.

The countries studied were Brazil, Cambodia, Colombia, the Philippines, Indonesia, Liberia, Mozambique and Peru, according to the study published in October.

Such threats are related to the number of murders of indigenous leaders in the world who fought for the protection of the environment and the land. Between 2002 and 2013, there were 908 murders of activists in the world, according to the report Deadly Environment (Deadly Environment), released this year by the organization Global Witness.

Brazil has been the most dangerous place, because 448 of the total died there, followed by Honduras, with 109 deaths, and the Philippines with 67.

Although the recognition of indigenous territories is a global demand, there are various modalities and strategies that these peoples propose, Balawag explained.

In some countries, land titling is requested, as in the Peruvian case, in others the delimitation of ancestrally recognized lands, as in the Philippines, and there are also cases in which agreements signed with the States are required due to territorial disputes, as is the case. in Bangladesh.

“If the land is not titled and if a REDD program is implemented, how can we receive the benefits? This is related to the benefits, but also to our survival. We can even be evicted by governments and private corporations, ”said Mrinal Tripura of the Maleya Foundation in Bangladesh.

Tripura assured IPS that the government of his country does not recognize the traditional system of the indigenous people of this country, and that they do not feel represented in the COP negotiations in Lima.

The complaints also come from Africa. “We indigenous peoples are the land, but the State has not respected the traditional way in which we have managed it. So titling is the only strategy left for us to ensure that our territories are respected, ”Maasai Stanley Kimaren Riamit, executive director of Indigenous Livelihoods Enhancement Partners, told IPS.

"Carbon investors are interested in that before investing in REDD they have clarity about the ownership of the territories, because the trees grow on the land and the land belongs to someone," said the Kenyan activist.

It is a reasoning that seems simple but that is an uncomfortable truth for several States, in the COP 20 negotiations, in removable installations erected in a military compound in the south of the Peruvian capital.

Edited by Estrella Gutiérrez

IPS News

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