9 August is International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples and an occasion to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the landmark United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). According to the UN, indigenous peoples are inheritors and practitioners of unique cultures and ways of relating to people and the environment. And they are in a unique position to make powerful contributions to strong climate action.
Numbering about 370 million people worldwide, about five percent of the world’s population, indigenous peoples care for nearly 22 percent of the Earth’s surface. Living in areas as diverse as the Amazon and the Arctic, they help protect an estimated 80 percent of the planet’s remaining biodiversity.
The Paris Climate Change Agreement recognizes the role of indigenous peoples and local communities in building a world that is resilient in the face of climate impacts. UNFCCC Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa says she relies on the voice and knowledge of indigenous peoples “to understand how to build a platform that best serves the needs of the indigenous community” and which helps “to build bridges between indigenous communities and other groups acting on climate change.”
Indigenous leader Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim speaks about the Paris Climate Change Agreement’s importance for the world’s Indigenous peoples