Dialogue Between Nations

24 May 2007

Press Release
Department of Public Information
News and Media Division
New York


Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues
Sixth Session
14th & 15th Meetings (AM & PM)


As the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues today wrapped up discussions on its future work, representatives of tribal and native peoples from all regions called on the expert body to urgently examine the dangers of climate change, which was already threatening their traditional cultures as grasslands withered, glaciers melted, ocean temperatures rose, and coral reefs disappeared.

Adding his voice to the call for climate change to be the theme for next year’s session, the representative of Habitat Pro, an Andean indigenous organization, reminded the Forum that, despite the fact that indigenous peoples would be primarily affected by global warming, their plight had barely been mentioned during the just-concluded session of the Commission on Sustainable Development, which had focused on climate change and air pollution.

“Global warming does not recognize borders, peoples or continents,” he said. Increasing sea levels and shrinking glaciers adversely affected the flow of drinking water and fishing prospects. He urged the Forum to speak clearly and openly with Governments about addressing indigenous issues distinctly, rather than in a “packaged” manner. By way of warning, he added that countries relying on corn and agro-industrial products to diversify away from oil-based fuels would continue to seize traditional lands.

Echoing that call, the representative of the Indigenous World Association and associated organizations stressed that climate change remained an urgent and cross-cutting issue that impacted indigenous peoples’ environment, economic development, culture and human rights. It had emerged as a particular priority in the Pacific, where indigenous peoples were impacted by global tides and changes in the marine food chain. Tuvalu had a dire need for assistance in handling rising tides. The phenomenon also was tragically impacting the Arctic and disrupting the planet’s entire hydro and marine cycle.

Responding, Chairperson Victoria Tauli-Corpuz said that, after hearing the pleas of so many organizations that had spoken on the issue over the past two days, the experts had agreed to make climate change the special theme of next year’s session. She added that the decision would be formally announced tomorrow when the Forum adopted the provisional agenda for its seventh session.

Summing up some of the other issues that had been raised, she said the Forum would work to reduce the number of recommendations it made and tomorrow review them individually. The responsibility to disseminate information lay with the indigenous organizations. Regarding the methods of work for next year, she said the Forum would recommend holding parallel sessions, which would make it easier to more closely examine relevant issues. That matter would need to be discussed further, however, as it would require additional funds.



UN Webcast Archives
22 May 07
Press Conference

John Scott of the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity and indigenous representatives from Canada, India, Norway and the U.S. brief on the indigenous peoples' vulnerability to climate change.

Webcast: Archived Video - English: 52 minutes


Matthias Ahren and Roberto Borrero

Matthias Ahren

Roberto Borrero


Indigenous and tribal peoples -- especially those living on slowly sinking small islands and in increasingly polluted mountain ranges -- were now the “human face” of the devastating effects of global warming, and the traditional knowledge that their communities possessed should be tapped in the search for answers on how to craft an international response to climate change, an official from the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity told reporters today.

“What has been missing in all the research done on global warming and the loss of biodiversity has been an examination of the social factors, or a look at the ‘human face’ of the [phenomenon], and it is now clear that indigenous and local communities highly vulnerable to climate change are providing that face,” said John Scott, Social Affairs Officer, Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, during a Headquarters press conference.

Mr. Scott was in New York to launch the Convention Secretariat’s draft report on the effects of climate change on indigenous and tribal communities, in connection with the International Day for Biological Diversity [22 May] and the sixth session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, currently meeting at Headquarters. The report focuses on climate change and its effects on indigenous communities in the Arctic region, in small islands and in high-altitude areas. It stressed, among other things, that indigenous and local communities’ traditional knowledge, innovations and practices were an inseparable part of their culture and, as such, should be protected and utilized in the development of measures to mitigate the effects of climate change.



Intro 2007 | Distinct Cultures Erode | Collective Survival | Recognition of Indigenous Rights | Anti-Poverty Goals
Extinction | Asia | Data Collection | Implementation | Climate Change | Free, Prior and Informed Consent

Kari-Oca Revisited

Nations to Nations Legend