10.30am - 12.30pm
Opening Ceremony for Pavilion, Press Conference
The “Indigenous Peoples’ & Communities’ Pavilion: Traditional Knowledge for Climate Action” opening ceremony took place on Tuesday, November 8 2016 under the moderation of Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, co-chair of the International Indigenous Peoples Forum on Climate Change. Many guests from various parts of the world came together for this occasion. The ceremony started with a performance by a throat singer from Russia, presenting the traditional songs from her community. Mr. Driss El Yazami, president of the Moroccan National Council for Human Rights, gave a speech on the implications of Paris Agreement and the stakes for COP 22, stressing that indigenous peoples must be delivered climate justice. He pointed out that indigenous peoples are the first victims of climate change. Mr. El Yazami then insisted on the importance of recognition for indigenous peoples and their land rights, as most fit to address effects of climate change. Mr. Yazami then talked about the main consequences of climate change, and the importance of biodiversity conservation. In order to achieve actual mitigation and adaptation to climate change, indigenous peoples are key actors, as their relationship to nature and natural resources around the world is a strong one. Traditional knowledge in indigenous communities plays a key role in their lifestyle, whether in agriculture, food systems, or traditional medicine.
Ms. Laurence Tubiana, former COP 21 climate champion, then spoke of the importance of culture and traditional knowledge, which have no borders. She underlined the vulnerability of indigenous peoples to the effects of climate change, and recognized the importance of the Paris Agreement’s reference to indigenous peoples, traditional knowledge, and the need for the implementation of a platform for sharing traditional knowledge. She stressed the need to take indigenous peoples and traditional knowledge into account as a whole when addressing matters of sustainable development, as they range from matters of food security, water access and sanitation, to soil fertility, and health.
Ms. Joan Carling, from the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, later explained that developed countries are often responsible for very high carbon emissions, which has incredibly harmful effects on indigenous peoples and local communities, as well as the rest of the world. Though solutions have been found sometimes in hydroelectric dams, wind farms and solar energy, land rights and recognition for indigenous peoples’ rights are crucial for humanity as a whole. She then concluded by recognizing the importance of a space such as the Indigenous Peoples’ & Communities’ Pavilion to provide a platform for people from various regions to gather, build a strong solidarity, and provide solutions for sustainable development, climate change adaptation and mitigation, and biodiversity conservation.
Everildys Cordoba Borja, from Colombia, spoke on behalf of local communities as an Afro-Descendent woman in this country. Choco-Darien Conservation Corridor is the first conservation project in the world to receive carbon credits for protecting forests owned by local communities. All the activities are managed by Cocomasur, an association of Afro-Colombian families; this project, which is an example of a REDD+ project, protects 13 465 hectares of tropical rainforest in the Darien region, one of the most biologically diverse regions on the planet.
A performance was then given by representatives of indigenous peoples from Eastern Russia, with throat singing, traditionally used for hunting by attracting animals.
Indigenous representatives from Indonesia then performed a traditional dance.
Leif-John Fosse, representing the Norwegian government, later explained that this year was the third time Norway has supported indigenous peoples for climate action through this Pavilion. He stressed the importance of indigenous peoples as experts in climate change mitigation and adaptation, all thanks to ancestral traditional knowledge. Global warming, deforestation, wildfires, and increasing floods have been destroying our natural resources. He therefore concluded that the Indigenous Peoples’ & Communities’ Pavilion was put in place to strengthen relationships between indigenous peoples and local communities across the world and provide a platform for traditional knowledge sharing.
The ceremony was then closed by a traditional performance from members of the south Moroccan community called Rwaiss. As a Tamazight group, men play instruments, while women perform traditional dances.
Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim then concluded the event by thanking all representatives from indigenous and local communities gathered at COP 22 to contribute to climate action, and inviting the audience to share a lunch in the communal space of the Pavilion.
12.45 - 1.45pm
Transition to Innovative and Clean Technology Demands a New Mindset
Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University
World Renewal Spiritual Trust
Brahma Kumaris is an environmental initiative that introduces the choice of renewable energy as creating the Future We Want. There is an “urgent need for a new paradigm that integrates clean technologies into our day to day life.” Global warming, environmental degradation and increased fuel prices threaten the future of humanity. Since the mid-1990s, Brahma Kumaris has become one of the key developers and promoters of renewable energies in India. They have transformed their vision into local action with the help of their sister organization. Brahma Kumaris has worked on several projects over time: solar steam cooking, solar PV power plants, and solar steam generation. In 2011, Brahma Kumaris and WRST initiated the design, development and installation of “India ONE “, a 1 MW solar thermal power plant in Abu Road, Rajasthan. This research project uses the newly in-house developed 60 square meter parabolic dish, and features an innovative thermal storage for continuous operation. ”India One “will generate heat and power for a campus of 25,000 people, becoming a milestone for decentralized clean power generation with storage in India. The work of the initiative encourages greater understanding of the role of consciousness and lifestyle in environmental issues. It highlights the importance of a sustainable lifestyle through increasing the use of clean energy, encouraging the adoption of a vegetarian diet, and meditation - which all help connect with “deeper values”, and find the strength to live by them to make the right decisions (choosing renewable energy for instance). Such decisions finally help achieving peaceful living, leading to less violent conflicts and wars, thus allowing the reorientation of efforts towards building a healthy and sustainable society. The initiative carried out a research on Yogic Agriculture. One thousand farmers throughout India are combining organic farming with meditation, which has been showing remarkable results. Early data collected through a field study in Gujarat suggests an improved seed quality and increase in crop yield, which has allowed to reduce costs for farmers and reduce pressure on the environment. To conclude the conference, Mr. Brahma explained that “any shift in individual awareness is reflected in society as a whole. To bring stability, resilience and compassionate action on a global scale, we believe a widespread capacity for silent reflection and meditation is essential.” Such an inside-out approach, applied largely by communities, can be key for a paradigm, allowing all stakeholders to make choices benefiting the planet and its future.
Speaker: Golo J. Pilz, Advisor Renewable Energy, Brahma Kumaris and Head of Project "India-One" Solar Power Plant
Moderator: Sonja Ohlsson
Thematic areas: Mitigation, Technology
Language of the event: English
Contact: Golo Pilz
2 - 3pm
Indigenous Women from Latin America Face the Climate Change from their Cultural Process of Adaptability
Ecuarunari - Accion Ecologica
The conference started at 2pm with four women coming from Chile, Ecuador and the Amazon region, traditionally dressed. Nancy, leader of the group, took the floor to introduce the young women and told the audience about the conference’s topic. It began with a short video reflecting the suffering of indigenous inhabitants of the Amazon due to oil exploitation. Women from villages have come together and formed a team raising awareness to climate change. Nancy explained that, because of global warming, the river level rose and destroyed all crops; some animals could no longer resist, causing a change in the growth cycle, and an epidemic appeared. As indigenous peoples, these communities have made proposals as well as conservation plans for alleviating the plight of residents. In order to repopulate the territories, they tried to regrow and introduced turtles and various fish species to improve biodiversity. These women are the first victims of climate change and oil operations must stop devastate nature and lands. Ms. Silsia Floret introduced herself as well. She lives in the mountain, 1500m height, in a very dry area, which primarily infects livestock. Because of the lack of water, they can not raise sheep; in the past, men used to raise llamas, an activity they had to give up. Mountain lions are protected by the law, and live in the mountain. However, because of the cold, they are unable to feed themselves and are now hunting in the communities’ livestocks. In winter, as the cold becomes too important, lands are too dry to be cultivated, and communities have no other choice than buying food from the outside to survive. The area is austere, seeds can no longer produce crops; important rains happen when it does not snow, but droughts still exist in the region. Therefore, food insecurity is now present since everything has changed. Communities’ women will have to devote themselves to new activities, such as trade, to feed their families. Silsia finished her speech with a strong message: indigenous peoples are highly concerned, and we must make changes as soon as possible. Corn is the first food production of these women: they must protect plantations, but climate change ruined them. The eruption of volcanoes is not random; for communities, for whom everything is sacred, it is a significant message. Stone is their mother, and what they are the most worried about is the fact that the world must act. Guatemala is one of ten countries that are the most vulnerable to climate change. In 2011 only, 25% of the forest have been lost. There is an important effort from these women since they decided to teach children the importance of harming the nature. They are often making awareness campaigns. Major industries are responsible for damaging nature and increasing climate change. Children are born ill, which is a major concern. Today, these communities are seeking justice for what they have taken from them.
Thematic areas: Traditional Knowledge, Adaptation
Language of the event: Spanish
Contact: Blanca Chancosa
3.15 - 4.15pm
Amazon Indigenous Peoples: Forest and Ancestral Wisdom as Climate Solutions
Indigenous peoples are only responsible for 5% of carbon emissions worldwide; in addition, areas where deforestation is stopped also has a higher percentage of greenhouse gas emissions. It is especially due to the action of indigenous peoples living in the area. The speakers present during the event did not cease to mention the primary goal of COICA: support indigenous peoples based on scientific evidence; the indigenous communities perfectly understand nature, it being a part of their daily lives. COICA works at the national and regional level, which makes it possible to provide concrete solutions. "Our cause must be supported," insisted Tunutak Katlan, the representative of COICA. In fact, these indigenous communities are able to take risks through precise assessments, and are then able to create collaborations with several ministries, as well as national commissions, which lets them obtain funding for their initiative.
COICA creates conditions for raising the climate change debate, and succeeds to makes their voice heard: they understand their country, their land, and know that there are many assets to promote culture, society and life. Through their scientific evidence, the indigenous peoples are in a position to provide solutions for the government. The organization also works so that women are able to take part and act in the face of the consequences of climate change, all while maintaining their cultural lifestyle. The inhabitants are ready to negotiate with the government to claim their rights.
Moreover, a collaborative member added that as indigenous peoples, they do not only have cultural wealth. The voice of the COICA countries must be supported, especially when there is detailed work based on scientific evidence and collaboration outside this area, with countries like Indonesia and Congo.
The indigenous peoples in the COICA area have access to funding, and since the COICA is international, it would be a shame to limit oneself to the funds granted by the states and governments. Rather than money, these governments must be stopped from polluting the atmosphere, while approaches that continue to pollute their territory persist. The indigenous peoples should not be subjected to agreements that would be unjust. COP22 is the opportunity to increase pressure and to make their voices heard, but also to solidify efforts to maintain human life on earth. "One must look at the territories as a whole: Pacific, oceans, rivers, because the Earth has a head, a body, a spirit."
To conclude, COICA is a local and national structure based on the sharing of knowledge; everyone works towards the same goals by cooperating with other indigenous peoples concerned with climate change. In South America for instance, all of the indigenous peoples are brought together in four other organisations representing forests. The goal is simply to take care of resources and to maintain the state of nature, along with reducing climate change. COICA now presents a solution despite the fact that they are not the creators of the problem. "I believe that one must take advantage of the opportunity to make our voice heard. The following is the proposition: join us to achieve each solution. Why do it tomorrow while we are still here today?"
Speakers: Edwin Vasquez
Thematic areas: Traditional Knowledge, Mitigation, Adaptation, Finance, Policy, Parternships
Language of the event: Spanish
Contact: Edwin Vasquez
4.30 - 7.30pm
Indigenous Populations in Mountain Regions, Climatic Guardians: Transmitting our Knowledge and Heritage in the Face of Climate Change
APMM - WMPA - Association des Populations des Montagnes du Monde
APMM - MAROC - CMA / Conseil Mondial Amazigh - Tisseurs de Liens- Réseau Forêts
The event was organized by the Association of Peoples of Mountains (APM) and its different local branches. The APM is an international network managing indigenous territories and advocating for indigenous peoples’ rights.
The first speaker was Mr. Jose Salomone, professor at the University Of Colombia. He aims to reintegrate the language and culture of the people of mountains to help include them in society and take part in building the country’s Constitution. Excluded and mistreated, mountain communities are highly dependent on forests. That is how much the population depends on nature. The infrastructure is based on traditional knowledge, as the plants they harvest all go through traditional processes. Borrowing money from banks to develop their agriculture and improve their environment, local production rose from 5% to 30%. According to Mr. Jose, industrialization explained, at least in part, why ancestors lived up to 100 years, while today, life expectancy rarely reaches over 70. All plastic materials are, according to him, also very representative of industrialized lifestyle, which mountain peoples seem to be highly aware of. This drives them to be particularly careful with farming, hence feeding chicken with local food instead of processed food; and avoiding consumption of rare species to allow for their reproduction. These are all measure established by local communities to show their engagement and implement effective biodiversity conservation.
Mr. Pablo Seto, defender of the Maya population, represented Guatemala. Mr. Seto is president of the indigenous peoples’ university, the first of its kind in Guatemala. The Maya history has a colonial past dating back to about 400 years ago. Though ancestral authorities used to manage the common goods of the population, the government is now in charge. The indigenous peoples’ university aims to bring recognition to ancestral peoples and engage them hand in hand with the government. Local women also participate in indigenous activities such as weaving and caring for common farms held by families. Even with freshly acquired degrees, the younger generation is unfortunately still struggling to find jobs. The university studies ancient cultures and adds it to the curriculum for young people by teaching ancestral know-how, which cannot be found on the Internet or Google. Mr. Pablo described the University, located in the mountains, and which does not have a campus. There are gardens and holy sites, and the teachers are the elders. The first main source of knowledge is the Maya culture, but other professionals are also brought into the curriculum. Having faced nearly 170 genocides, a rate of 16% of the Maya population was killed. Those who survived only held on thanks to their Maya culture. Mr. Pablo continued stating that all cultures are universal, and each one is rich and different in its own way.
A university professor from South Western China, also a representative from the Miao and Dong villages, spoke about their recent establishment of a pioneering project for the management of forests. The world depends on forests, especially in China. Though Eastern China hardly has any forests, the rest need to be protected. The density of population in Miao and Dong is very high: 250 people/km², and the population lives on rice and fish. Local communities hold a very strong traditional knowledge, and festivities serving as an opportunity to meet and celebrate diversity. With a new system of hybrid rice production, communities started to part, as families used to unite to produce rice with traditional techniques, but now work individually. Since then, several put in place to reinstate previous methods. Thanks to the five families who started the project, the same rate of rice production is maintained without the need for new methods, and they are expecting an increasing number of families to join the project. A research team of 20 members is now working hard to install the system in the whole district.
Bharati Pathak, the General secretary of a program managing forests in Nepal, underlined the huge change he witnessed between 1978 and 2005 made by communities in local forests, bringing acres and acres of forest back to life, allowing them to now produce their own rice. Women additionally play a large role in the decision making process, as well as the engagement in diverse activities as more people are supporting the fight against climate change and biodiversity conservation in Nepalese forests. In Nepal, several indigenous peoples wish to share their common knowledge, and aim to more and more greenery not only in the local areas but also at a national level. Most of the population lives in forests, and their activities revolve around them. Unfortunately, several are forced to leave to work for their families due to the lack of job opportunities, but the women always stay and take care of their families and forests. One of the organization’s main goals is to ensure that the voices of these women can be finally heard. Some of the main achievements of Community Forestry is biodiversity conservation, women empowerment, and the increase of the decision-making power among local communities and especially among women.
Camira Nice, vice-president of the organization of Peoples of North Mountains started by stating that traditional knowledge and the wisdom of indigenous peoples acquired by experience and orally transmitted from generation to generation play a big role in climate change adaptation. She then explained how Amazigh beliefs were always related to nature, and the moon was especially adored by the Touaregs, nomads of the Saharan desert. The Amazighs always venerated the soil, rivers, rocks as if holding spirits, therefore assimilated to divinity. Such beliefs represent the strong bond and attachment to the environment. The Amazigh have always held an agrarian calendar, allowing to track every slight change in seasons, months and days. This calendar sums up a lot of the Amazigh knowledge, as it is divided into two main periods: sowing and plowing (fall and winter), harvest and collect (spring and summer). Every month was divided into periods, the calendar was like a guide into local agriculture. Unfortunately, with the arrival of new technologies, such know-hows are slowly forgotten.
Mr. Said Kamal, representing the peoples of mountains of Morocco, explained how several parties are working hard to preserve the know-how of ancient Amazighs, especially in the mountains, and presented a book coming out soon that gathers stories from the Amazigh and their struggles in facing climate change. A growing number of young workers are leaving villages to work in cities, and forget their mother tongue. Several workshops are held to bring this lost culture back, as with the Mountain Art Festival for example, or a cooperative to preserve olive trees, or even honey. A collaboration with an Italian organization provided local women with training in cheese-making, and a local milk cooperative helped improve cheese-making in the area.
Mr. Jean, vice-President of the PMM, and organizer of this event, stated that in a world today characterized by a cultural melting pot, the transmission of cultural values is interrupted, and youths are now attracted to global values. The real challenge resides in preserving traditional knowledge in facing globalization.
Speaker: Lounes Belkacem
Moderator: Michel Laforge
Thematic areas: Traditional Knowledge, Mitigation, Management, Partnerships
Language of the event: Amazigh
Contact: Jean Bourliaud