The Indigenous Environmental Network, Indigenous Climate Action and Native Movement collectively join the call for the postponement of the 2021 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change 26th Conference of the Parties (UNFCCC COP26) in order to ensure robust participation by the Indigenous peoples most affected by climate change.
As the world continues to confront the spread of Covid-19, there are serious concerns that many of our Indigenous relatives from the global South will not be able to adequately participate in the COP due to the disproportionate impact of COVID on their communities. It is reprehensible that their voices will not be heard due to UNFCCC’s and the United Kingdom’s (UK) unwillingness to take into account the global inequities of the COVID-19 vaccine distribution. Indigenous communities are often sacrifice zones bearing the brunt of extractive development and the effects of destructive weather events. Our communities have long been disportionately impacted not just by climate change, but the forces that are responsible for creating it.
The representatives of the UK as the host of the UNFCCC COP26 have previously stated they would create mechanisms to ensure the safety and participation of Indigenous Peoples, as well as local and civil society from developing countries. However, the United Kingdom’s actions have been deeply inadequate to assure just and effective participation of our frontline communities
With strategic guidance given by our Indigenous global South partners, should the UK and UNFCCC decide against postponing the COP, our organizations will still commit to attending the conference, offer interventions in support and solidarity with those who cannot attend, and elevate our frontline community demands. However it must be reiterated; this is not a preferred arrangement. The exclusion of Indigenous peoples from the global South would effectively silence them–by failing to enhance accommodations and, those who will be most impacted by the agenda items of the COP, such as Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, will be denied their guaranteed right to participation. No equitable or just climate solutions can emerge from such an unjust process.