Ya’at’eeh. Shik’ei doo shi dine’e. My name is Michael Charles, I am 24 years old and come from the Navajo Nation in Southwest United States. As an indigenous youth, I bring and acknowledge my ancestors and their wisdom in this room – and recognize that indigenous peoples have been fighting for our rights and the rights of the land since the first days of colonization.
Today, I see the harm of resource extraction and false solutions impacting my community. We became reliant on energy through the colonization of our people and dependent on industries such as coal power, uranium mining, and now fracking. Each of these impact the well-being of the entire community: the air we breathe, the food we eat, the water we drink and the spirits among us. In order to respond to the urgency of climate change and meet the goals of the Paris Agreement, we need to act – and we need to act now. A just transition based on the rights of indigenous peoples, is essential to us because our land is often sacrificed by you, as resource-rich areas to target for extraction, and now our communities need help to transition away from the reliance imposed upon us.
Less than two months ago, the IPCC’s Special Report on 1.5ºc provided an assessment of the risks associated with any additional amount of warming. And the risks are devastating to planet, people and animals. The COP 24 must seriously enhance actions and Parties need to increase their NDCs by almost 3 times as much. Right now, we do not hear the willingness from Parties to do so. Nor the willingness of further implementing the Indigenous Peoples Platform.
The comprehensive set of modalities, to ensure a full and effective implementation in the paris agreement, must not be a force to continue to violate indigenous peoples rights, and doing so in the name of climate change mitigation, or of ITMOs. The modalities must reflect the full vision of the Paris Agreement — that of rights-based, participative, and gender-responsive climate action that contributes to promoting a just transition and food security while respecting indigenous rights and traditional knowledge.