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Consultation with indigenous peoples is necessary to protect nature


MONTREAL –

The world will not succeed in halting biodiversity loss without Indigenous participation and leadership, say leaders attending a major United Nations conference in Montreal.

Jennifer Corpuz, an indigenous lawyer from the Philippines, said indigenous peoples around the world have long been nature’s best stewards.

“If the parties here don’t work with indigenous peoples, we won’t go where we need to go because indigenous governance and guardianship have been more effective than protected areas,” she said in a statement on Saturday. interview.

Corpuz said it was crucial that any final agreement negotiated at the conference, known as COP15, includes recognition of indigenous rights, recognition of traditional territory in conservation goals and direct access to funding for protect biodiversity.

“Our lives are at stake as indigenous peoples and the health of the planet,” said Corpuz, a member of the International Indigenous Peoples’ Biodiversity Forum negotiating team, who participated in the talks at the conference.

She says the working text of the international biodiversity framework includes language on indigenous rights.

But a major sticking point is indigenous peoples’ desire to have their traditional lands and waters recognized under a draft goal that calls for protecting 30% of the world’s terrestrial and marine habitats by 2030.

She said many indigenous groups have had bad experiences with conservation efforts, which have often been “exclusive” and resulted in people being evicted from their land or killed for trying to stay.

She said many want to ensure no protected areas are created on their lands without their permission and leadership. Some want the flexibility to have their lands included in the 30% without being considered conservation areas.

“Indigenous territories have been around for thousands of years, they’ve been effective, so why not just acknowledge them?” said Corpuz.

Ronald Brazeau, acting director of natural resources for the Algonquin community of Lac-Simon in Quebec, said Indigenous groups around the world have different interests and realities.

But he said what they have in common can be summed up in one word: “the land”. On Friday, he joined other leaders from Canada, Brazil and Indonesia in calling for greater Indigenous input into conservation efforts.

He said his community in western Quebec is witnessing the effects of biodiversity loss and climate change, adding he doesn’t think governments are going far enough on conservation.

Quebec allows logging in certain protected areas, he said, and is often at odds with indigenous peoples over which lands are eligible for protection.

“We want land where we could do our business without industry going there because once they get in there they’re going to tear everything down,” he said, adding that he believed the conservation target should be greater than 30 percent.

Canada has established three Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas, which are co-managed by local Indigenous peoples. According to the Indigenous Leadership Initiative, 27 other First Nations have submitted proposals that have received support from the Federal Nature Fund.

Earlier this week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced up to $800 million over seven years to support four Indigenous-led conservation initiatives in Northern Ontario, British Columbia, the Northern Territories West and Nunavut.

Indigenous peoples were highly visible throughout the conference, with event after event highlighting their successes in protecting their lands.

At a press conference on Friday, the leaders of Chad and Pakistan stressed that indigenous peoples often do this work for free. They asked for funding that they can access directly.

An Indigenous space off site in Old Montreal also provides a gathering space with traditional cultural exhibits and a host of signage and programming.

Corpuz said that while indigenous peoples are happy to have so many places to speak out, they still need better visibility and participation in the spaces where decisions are made.

While indigenous groups are present at the negotiating table, “the space to speak is now very limited and these are very, very technical issues,” she said.

Brazeau said he knows many Indigenous people who didn’t come to the conference because they don’t think it will lead to results, and he himself is skeptical of the process.

But for the sake of future generations, he is ready to participate.

“If we don’t defend our future, who will? he said.

ctvnews Canada news

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