January 22, 2022 5:48 pm

COP26: Indigenous Peoples, Demonstrations and a Call to End the War Against Nature

Mother Nature or as it is known in Latin America, the “Pachamama”, occupied the center of attention of the UN Climate Change Conference just as it reached its equator.

The environment is critical to our survival: it provides the oxygen we need to breathe, regulates weather patterns, provides food and water for all living things, and is home to countless species of wildlife and ecosystems they need to survive. .

According to him United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), human activity has altered almost 75% of the earth’s surface and has endangered one million animal and plant species on the endangered species list.

Man has overexploited the resources of nature, deforested land for agriculture and the livestock industry, while climate change now exacerbates this process faster than ever, increasing erosion and desertification.

The oceans, which absorb around a third of our carbon emissions, have been polluted, thus losing their ability to act as “buffers of climate change”, according to the UN scientific agency, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

It is clear that humanity is “waging a war against nature”, as the General secretary of the UN, Antonio Guterres, who has urged to take more measures.

“We cannot continue to corner nature and wait for it to respond. We want it to sequester carbon, to provide buffers for high storms and mangroves and to be the lung of the planet,” UNEP Executive Director told UN News this Saturday , Inger Andersen.

But when you play with nature, it will send its bills in the form of stronger storms, more fires, more heat waves and more droughts.“he added.

ONU Costa Rica / Roberto Salazar

Panoramic view from the Costa Rican municipality of Alajuelita

Are we going to cut down virgin forests or restore the land?

Climate change cannot be solved without solving the challenge of biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation, according to a high-level panel in which Andersen participated.

The head of that UN agency called for unity and cooperation to find the necessary solutions to restore nature and deal with climate change.

The socio-economic transformations we need will only occur when we reestablish our relationship with nature, understanding that we cannot continue investing in what damages our planet, “he said.

As countries recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, a great boost has been given to practices related to nature to fight climate change and help economic recovery, explained the UNEP official.

“How can nature help us and how can we help it … There are two billion hectares of degraded land and we all need to eat. So the question is whether we are going to cut down virgin forests, or to restore that land to become a landscape of work, “he stressed.

Amarakaeri Communal Reserve, a natural area of ​​402,335 hectares protected by the Harakbut, Yin and Machiguengas communities in Madre de Dios, in the Peruvian Amazon.


Amarakaeri Communal Reserve, a natural area of ​​402,335 hectares protected by the Harakbut, Yin and Machiguengas communities in Madre de Dios, in the Peruvian Amazon.

Indigenous peoples drive their strategy

Indigenous peoples have the best knowledge about how to protect nature and throughout the week they have actively worked to influence the negotiations in every possible way, both within the Conference on Climate Change, COP26, and outside the Scottish city Glasgow, where it is celebrated, even in street protests.

“Indigenous culture teaches us to respect the rivers, lakes, plants, animals and spiritual creatures that live in these places. The climate crisis cannot be solved without including indigenous peoples and without protecting their territories,” he said. the activist Eloy Terena to UN News.

UN News also spoke with the former UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, who recalled that these communities are the true experts in living in harmony with nature, a fundamental reason why their territories they currently contain 80% of the world’s biodiversity.

“We actually use nature to solve all our problems of food security, water or climate change and other benefits. We have done it without destroying nature, so we have a lot to share with the world and we need support so that governments stop criminalizing us, to protect our territories, “he said.

The international environmental activist said that while indigenous communities have strict laws and customs to protect nature, while states have contradictory laws.

“For example, in the Philippines, we have an Indigenous Rights Law, but we also have a Mining Law and an Investment Agreement that pushes to extract our resources,” he said.

Tauli-Corpuz explained that indigenous representatives are promoting their strategy at the conference to influence some of the decisions that will be taken when it is concluded, including Article 6 of the Paris Agreement that will establish the rules for carbon markets and other forms of international cooperation.

Tayrona National Park in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, Colombia.

UN News / Laura Quiñones

Tayrona National Park in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, Colombia.

Life or death

Although ancestral communities hardly contribute to climate change, they have become one of its most vulnerable victims.

Daniela Balaguera comes from the Arhuaco indigenous community, located in the north of Colombia. An ancestral tribe that lives in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, an isolated and separate mountain range from the Andes, which runs through the center of the country and acts as the source of 36 different rivers.

“Our territories are supposed to be sacred, that they are for the conservation of the environment, but they are not really being treated like that and that is where we must deepen. If they are protected areas, they should have the guarantees and rights that belong to them but that they are fulfilled, “he says.

For her, and for many other activists who have spoken out at the COP, climate change is a matter of life and death.

“They are threatening us with a second extinction of our cultural practices, which is extremely worrying because it would be the second massacre, the second annihilation of our people,” he said.

Indigenous activists demonstrating in the streets of the COP26 host city, Glasgow.

ONU/Grace Barret

Indigenous activists demonstrating in the streets of the COP26 host city, Glasgow.

Negotiations are ongoing

Balaguera’s concerns were answered this Saturday both on the streets of Glasgow and in many other parts of the world where activists of all ages and backgrounds have called for a Global Day of Action.

Meanwhile, the host organization of the COP announced that 45 governments are committing to take urgent action and invest to protect nature and switch to more sustainable forms of agriculture.

This new commitment aims to transform food and agriculture systems through policy, research and innovation reforms, in order to reduce emissions and protect nature while ensuring food and employment. .

The initiative includes the mobilization of more than $ 4 billion in new public investments for innovation in the agricultural sector, such as the development of climate-resistant crops and regenerative solutions to improve soil health, helping to make these techniques and resources affordable. and accessible to hundreds of millions of farmers.

About a quarter of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions come from agriculture, forestry, and other land uses.

COP26 President Alok Sharma also announced that 130 countries covering 93% of the world’s forest stand have already signed the Glasgow Forest Declaration, presented earlier this week.

Sharma also reported on the negotiations taking place within the framework of the conference, noting that many agreements have been reached on gender, agriculture and adaptation issues at the national level.


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