Indigenous Peoples in Copenhagen say, “First, respect our rights!”

Indigenous Peoples have a strong presence at the Copenhagen United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)summit, where their main message is: “First, respect our rights!”  
Indigenous representatives from every continent have been gathering at all the pre-Copenhagen meetings (in Bali, Bonn, Bangkok, and Barcelona), putting together the platform of the Indigenous Peoples Global Caucus on Climate Change. 

Here is their statement:
International Indigenous Peoples Forum on Climate Change (IIPFCC) Statement on the Barcelona negotiations for outcomes in Copenhagen
Adopted in Barcelona, 02-06 November 2009

We, Indigenous Peoples, express our profound concern over the lack of political will and commitment of state Parties to conclude the climate change negotiations in Copenhagen with a legally binding agreements on ambitious emission reduction targets.

Indigenous peoples around the world are directly and critically impacted by climate change, and by any outcomes of the current negotiations.  Climate change has a range of grave implications for the effective enjoyment of indigenous peoples' human rights, including food sovereignty, health, traditional/ancestral knowledge, rights to our lands, territories and resources, cultural integrity and wellbeing, among others. We have intrinsic contributions towards addressing the climate crisis through our traditional knowledge and customary resource management systems that have proven to be ecologically sustainable.  It is then critically important, and a matter of life and death for indigenous peoples that any agreement on climate change must ensure the legal recognition of our human rights and the protection of our traditional knowledge to achieve a just and equitable outcome of the climate change negotiations.

We therefore call on all state parties and the global community to fulfill and respect their current commitments and outcomes from Copenhagen that must include the following:

1. A legally binding outcome in the form of an amendment to the Kyoto Protocol for the further commitment period 2013-2020.

2. A binding aggregate emissions reduction target for developed countries (Annex 1) of 49% below 1990 levels by 2020 and at least 95% by 2050.

3. Recognition that international human rights standards serve as a guide to tackle climate change, underscoring the fundamental, moral and legal obligations to protect and promote the full enjoyment of our human rights including our rights to lands, territories and resources, right to subsistence, food sovereignty, right of traditional knowledge and free, prior and informed consent, among others, as enshrined in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

 4. The full and effective participation of indigenous peoples in all climate change related processes at the global, national and local levels.

5. Ensure the direct financing to and by indigenous peoples and local communities for adaptation and mitigation measures.

6. Establishment of an Expert Group on Indigenous Peoples and Climate Change under the Conference of Parties (COP) of the UNFCCC, and under the Meeting of Parties (MOP) of the Kyoto Protocol, with indigenous expert members and the full and effective participation of indigenous peoples.

The survival of our peoples, the human family and Mother Earth is at stake. State Parties must stop obstructing real solutions.  We have only one Mother Earth, and all Parties must fulfill their responsibilities and obligations.
  IIPFCC, 4 November 2009

Follow Indigenous Peoples’ participation in Copenhagen here:
Another good source of documents prepared by Indigenous Peoples on climate change is:
For live video from the Copenhagen conference, including interviews with Indigenous Peoples, see

For videos about Indigenous Peoples and climate change:

To learn more about Indigenous Peoples and climate change read the 2008 Summer issue of the Cultural Survival Quarterly