First-person perspectives from the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Facilitative Working Group in Bonn, Germany

IEN’s Climate Justice Program Overview of UNFCCC SBSTA 60

By Tamra Gilbertson, Climate Justice Program Coordinator 

IEN’s Climate Justice Program staff recently attended the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s (UNFCCC) 60th session of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) with an 11-person delegation held in Bonn, Germany, May 27- June 8, 2024. The UNFCCC SBSTA 60 is an annual intersessional meeting of the UNFCCC’s Convention of Parties (COP) that generally brings together countries for negotiating key agenda items to be further discussed at the end of the year, during the COP29 to be held in Baku, Azerbaijan.

The annual Bonn climate talks lay the groundwork for decisions to be made at the end of the year Conference of the Parties (COP). Climate finance will have to be agreed in Baku at the next COP. The finance target is known as the New Collective Quantified Goal (NCQG) on climate finance. The new long-term goal will aim to fund climate efforts in developing countries and replace the existing climate pledge of $100 billion a year, which is currently two years old, and this has never been met.

This year’s Bonn intercessional meeting included discussions in key areas of the New Collective Quantum Goal (NCQG) on finance, Global Goal on Adaptation, Just Transition World Program, Article 6 (Paris Agreement) carbon markets, Agriculture Work Program, and follow-up on the Global Stocktake, the Loss and Damage Fund, and the Ocean Dialogue, among other key Areas.

IEN delegates included eight staff and three frontline Indigenous community representatives:  Human Rights and Climate Change Counsel, Alberto Saldamando; Indigenous Sovereignty Advocate, Michael Lane; Policy Analyst and Legislative Advocate Jordan Harmon; Carbon Pricing Educator, Thomas Joseph Tsewenaldin; Climate Geoengineering Organizer, Panganga Pungowiyi; Indigenous Feminisms Organizer, Claire Charlo; Keep it in the Ground Co-Lead Organizer, Brenna TwoBears; and Climate Justice Coordinator, Tamra Gilbertson. We were honored to also work with Great Grandmother Mary Lyons, Cacique (Chief) Ninawa Inu Huni Kui, Brazil, and Huni Kui youth representative Isaka Elvis Oliveira, Brazil.

The IEN delegation presented information during three side events, six press conferences, hosted three workshops in the Bonn Climate Camp, worked within three UN constituency groups participated in actions, gave several interventions, and followed daily negotiation tracks.

UN Side Event: Press Conference June 12, 2024 

The SBST60 talks in Bonn, Germany, ended with little progress. The outcome of the meetings saw a near breakdown of the Global Goal on Adaptation, the Just Transition Work Program, and Article 6.2 and A6.4 carbon markets. The negotiations carried over with backroom discussions into the final day of the meetings, causing the final plenary to begin ten hours behind Schedule. Click here to watch the video

It Takes Roots – LIVE FROM BONN!

Halfway between UN climate change conferences, Bonn presents a crucial intervention point for civil society to influence the climate talks. Our expert EJ panelists will report back on global progress and setbacks in preventing the climate crisis and how UN measures relate to EJ communities at home. Tune in for our analysis of developments on Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, human rights, agriculture, just transition, and more. We’ll cover the most important outcomes of the first week of SB60 and what’s needed for our movements to prepare for COP29 and COP30. Click here to watch the recording now.

Transparency and patience ran low in the last two days of the Bonn session as wealthy

countries refused the $100 billion target and argued that emerging economies should also pay. New $1-6 trillion finance targets were proposed for implementation by 2030. A key concern for IEN and our allies is not how much money is agreed upon for climate-related activities but what kind of finance is used and who the financiers are. Countries in the developing world cannot sustain more global debt and loan-based financing that continue to make wealthy countries rich.

As finance is not emerging, countries continue to point to the yet-to-be-built carbon markets in Article 6 of the Paris Agreement as an avenue for climate finance. However, carbon markets are not climate finance and should not be confused with holding wealthy countries accountable for the historical responsibility of causing the climate crisis. Carbon markets boom and bust like any other capitalist market and could threaten any support when prices fall. Importantly, carbon markets do not reduce emissions or uphold the rights of Indigenous Peoples at project sites and ultimately threaten Mother Earth.

Additional areas of negotiation, including the Global Goal on Adaptation and the Just Transition Work Program, barely made it through the process.

Indigenous Human Rights and Climate Negotiations In The International Arena

By IEN Human Rights and Climate Counsel Alberto Saldamando (Xicano-Zapoteca)

With an 11-person delegation of IEN staff and Indigenous community leaders, I attended the Facilitative Working Group (FWG) of the Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Platform (LCIPP) held recently in Bonn, Germany. The FWG is a priority for the Indigenous Environmental Network as it enshrines Traditional Indigenous Knowledge as a part of the Paris Agreement, a 2015 international treaty on climate change, ensuring that the Indigenous Collective Rights of the Declaration on the rights of Indigenous Peoples, particularly the right of Free, Prior and Informed Consent, are recognized and respected by the State Parties to the Paris Agreement. 

I attended to ensure that Indigenous rights continue to be recognized. I also attended the Bonn Conference to follow Article 6 of the CMA, Market and Non-Market approaches, prioritizing Article 6.8, non-market approaches, to advocate to ensure that non-market approaches remain non-market and not as precursors to market approaches. The State already has market approaches in 6.2 and 6.4, and there is no need for more market approaches.

I also participated in 2 side events, the first on False Solutions to Climate Change and the second on a Global Response to Climate Change, building on movements of front-line communities resisting carbon infrastructure worldwide. I also participated on a press conference on False Solutions. 

Bonn also had an opportunity to introduce IEN staff and affiliates to the workings of Climate Conferences in preparation for the Conference of Parties (COP29) in Baku, Azerbaijan, in November of this year. I introduced IEN staff and worked with the Human Rights and Climate Change Working Group (HR&CC) and the technical team to the Global Indigenous Caucus (IIPFCC) and the North American Caucus. 

Indigenous Peoples are an interest group in all UN climate conferences. The International Indigenous Peoples Forum on Climate Change (IIPFCC) and the North American Caucus had preparatory meetings via Zoom and in person in Bonn. 

I am also Head of Delegation to all International Climate Conferences and will be at the upcoming COP29 in Baku, Azerbaijan, in November.

Thoughts on Bonn Climate Meeting 2024 From an Indigenous Feminisms Perspective

by IEN Indigenous Feminisms Organizer Claire Charlo (Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes)

Attending the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Bonn, Germany, for the first time from May 27 – June 8, 2024, was a different international experience for me. I attended an all-day strategic planning session with the Women and Gender Constituency on Sunday, June 2, 2024. We discussed strategy, the different committees, and each constituency focal point. We had several new members. One beautiful and timely activity was learning everyone’s name and where they were from in the form of a game. One of the committee presidents said that capitalism has fractured our sense of community, and the pace of the negotiations is so frantic that we forget to slow down and learn each other’s names. It was a good and challenging game because I struggled to remember names.

Cross-constituency work is important. IEN has solid representation within the Indigenous Peoples Caucus. It is important to attend other constituency meetings to see if their values align with an Indigenous Just Transition, phasing out fossil fuels and saying “NO” to false solutions to climate change. 

Climate finance was a contentious topic. The distinction between loans and debt is not clear. Many people in the Global South feel bullied by the Global North’s attempts to force more climate debt on the Global South, while the Global North is the biggest polluter. I attended Demand Climate Action (DCA) meetings in the afternoon and participated in daily press conferences on false solutions.

Due to the cross-constituency work I did with DCA at COP28, with agriculture, I was asked to speak on the Indigenous women’s perspective in an inside action called “Smart Agriculture” on June 6, 2024. Monocropping and genetically modified seeds are colonial practices that remove the reciprocal relationships between Indigenous Peoples and our own ways of planting and harvesting, passed down from our ancestors. I spoke about how these false solutions to amplify crop yield, utilizing technologies that go against the seasons of nature, interfere with the relationships between Indigenous women, particularly in growing and harvesting crops traditionally. Seeds are passed from generation to generation. 

Modifying traditional seeds is a colonial form of cultural erasure. Traditional Indigenous Knowledge includes methods, mindsets, and ways of being that are proven viable solutions; incorporating song and ceremony with planting seeds, honoring Mother Earth and the seasons, and growing food for family and community nourishment instead of profit is the best agricultural practice. 

My thoughts on the Sharm el-Sheikh joint work on implementing climate action on agriculture and food security are that a specific language is missing, like “food sovereignty” instead of food security. Indigenous Peoples, especially women, should be at the center of negotiations on agriculture. 

Coming from mountains and having steadily watched Glacier National Park lose glaciers yearly to climate change, I attended the first “Expert Dialogue On Mountains and Climate Change,” a mandated event, like a panel discussion, not negotiations. Surprisingly, this was the first expert dialogue on the topic. It was mentioned that Indigenous Peoples and women must be consulted, and more meetings will occur. 

There was a discussion of how another meeting will happen. I hope Indigenous Peoples and women are brought to the negotiation table.

I also attended an in-session, mandated workshop on “Progress, Challenges, Gaps and Priorities In Implementing the Gender Action Plan” on future work regarding gender and climate change. I found the discussion and negotiations to be stalled and disappointing. No concrete decisions were made; instead, they were pushed to COP29. 

Another beautiful event during the Bonn meetings was the Climate Camp. A five-minute walk from the main site was set up by participating youth and included every evening, and a complimentary meal was served to everyone. This is where daily debriefings and workshops occurred. I attended a teach-in on the ecocide in Palestine, a panel on Indigenous Swaini women of the Middle East, and another workshop on false solutions. The Climate Camp provided an outside space for those who didn’t have access to the UNFCCC but could learn about the negotiations in nightly debrief sessions. During the first week, I helped organize the debriefing sessions. 

During both weeks, I held down the action side for IEN. I was a safety marshall and a speaker at a “Defund Genocide” action on June 7, 2024, and a safety marshall for a climate finance action on June 11, 2024. My role was to make sure US attendees followed the rules of the action. I attended action meetings daily, along with two constituency and negotiation meetings. It was a busy two and a half weeks. 

The actions, side events, and press conferences that take place at SBSTA60 are important. They cannot detract from negotiations; they should amplify and complement them. Constituency groups are important to help guide their members through the process. Cross-consecutive work is important for solidarity. By uniting, our actions and press conferences were strong and powerful. However, cross-consecutive work has its challenges. 

My overall thought is that lip service is given to Indigenous Peoples, women, and youth, as we are not included at the negotiation table. I attended several side events that were extremely helpful in understanding the status of climate finance concerning the upcoming COP29. What I heard over and over is that climate finance is a human right and that it should be financed as grants, not loans. The money could come from gas and oil subsidy offsets. Another looming dynamic is between the Global South and Global North. There is tension between the two, and rightly so. The Global North is pushing its agenda, and the Global South feels that they are avoiding responsibility intentionally. The Global North does not want to be internationally accountable; the Global South is calling this avoidance out in many negotiations. 

From an Indigenous feminist perspective, the UNFCCC is extremely patriarchal. Women and Gender Constituency had to push for women to be added to the COP29 Advisory Council. The gender gap is not improving at the United Nations, according to the gender tracking tool used. 

It is disturbing to see how commodified Mother Earth is. It is disturbing to see how there are actual Indigenous experts to be called into negotiations, but instead, there is deference to Western scientists who do not understand the spiritual, inherent relationships Indigenous Peoples have with Mother Earth and Father Sky.


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