As the world increasingly comes to stay with the devastating effects of a rapidly changing climate, experts say that efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change might be ineffective.
Climate Change specialists from around the globe who spoke at the opening of Global Landscape Forum’s (GLF) annual Climate Summit at Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt on Friday said disadvantaged communities needed urgent support to develop ways to mitigate and adapt to extreme weather events – flooding, wildfires, drought and heatwaves – at this time when these events become too many to deal with globally.
“It is very important that COP27, a COP for implementation, does not exclude the voice of humanity: the most vulnerable communities,” said Yasmine Fouad, Egypt’s Minister of Environment.
These notably include many Indigenous communities, which play a pivotal role in stewarding the Earth and its biodiversity but face a multitude of threats including wildfires, land grabs and physical violence.
“Our fight is not only for rights, but it is a permanent fight for life,” said Sônia Guajajara, an Indigenous Brazilian politician and congresswoman. “Indigenous Peoples are just 5% of the world’s population, but 82% of the world’s protected biodiversity lies within our territories. We protect it, and often we pay the price with our own lives.”
“It’s important that those who defend nature the most have their rights respected, including the right to participate in decision-making spaces.”
To protect these rights, the Rights and Resources Initiative launched a set of best practice principles for recognizing and respecting the land and resource rights of Indigenous Peoples, local communities and Afro-Descendant Peoples. This is the first-ever common set of principles designed to help civil society organizations, companies and investors ensure that their climate, biodiversity, and sustainable development investments are rights-based.
“Rights are at the heart of both climate adaptation and mitigation. We need donors, investors, and the private sector not only endorse but actually implement these principles to move away from business as usual. It is important to have principles but unless they are implemented, there’s no systemic change,” said Solange Bandiaky-Badji, the Rights and Resources Initiative’s President.
But securing rights is just one of many important steps needed to transition to a sustainable economy, speakers emphasized.
“The solution to this climate emergency is to transform every segment of society,” said Ko Barrett, Vice-Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). “Whether it’s transport, energy, food production, buildings or manufacturing – all of them must be fundamentally transformed.”
“The good news is that we have many of the solutions that we need. We just need to work for widespread adoption. Importantly, we each have the power to make the change happen.”