Respect and leadership are sought by indigenous peoples in the fight for biodiversity.

MontrealCanada – As a United Nations conference on conserving critical ecosystems highlights the importance Indigenous stewardship of water and land, Indigenous communities are calling for a leadership role in protecting biodiversity around the world.

Representatives from almost 200 countries are gathering in Canada this month to discuss ways to reverse the rapid decline in animals, plants, and other tackle organisms.

One million species are currently threatened with extinction, experts warn, with a variety of factors — including climate change and development projects — driving the destruction of land, forests, oceans and other habitats.

A highly-respected 2008 World Bank reportpdf) estimated that traditional Indigenous areas accounted for 22 percent of the world’s land and held 80 percent of biodiversity—a reality that underscores the urgency of Indigenous leadership. Studies (pdf) have also shown that biodiversity is higher on indigenously managed land.

“Indigenous peoples are the main guardians of the fauna and flora – and they know best what to do to protect them [it]Dinamam Tuxa, the Executive Coordinator for the Articulation Of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil, said it.

Tuxa spoke at a Friday morning press conference held in Montreal, on the sidelines United Nations’ biodiversity conference known simply as COP15. He said that Indigenous voices should be included in all COP15 biodiversity agreements to ensure funding and other resources reach communities. The forefront of the battle.

He stated that “we aren’t part of the decision-making process, and they’re speaking on our behalf regarding biodiversity that isn’t theirs,” “Without indigenous peoples, there is no climate future or biodiversity.”

Initiative ’30×30′

The COP15 talks bring together delegates representing the 196 countries that ratified the 1992 UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). They also include other stakeholders. Their goal is to create a framework to assist countries in protecting biodiversity starting at the end of this century. decade.

The Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework proposes that at least 30 percent of the planet’s land and water be protected through “systems and protected areas and other area-based conservation measures,” also known as the 30-x-30 initiative.

But while that goal has been welcomed by some as a good step forward, it has also raised concerns, with Agnes Callamard, Secretary General of Amnesty International, who is in Canada for COP15, saying: “In its current form, it represents a serious risk to the rights of indigenous peoples.”

Callamard explained that the current practice in protected area often follows a model known “fort conservation”, which requires the complete elimination of all human presence in the area, usually by force. The territory can then be opened up to tourists and conservation researchers, as well as big game hunters in some cases.” pronunciation This week.

Instead, she urged nations to ensure that any biodiversity agreements revolve around indigenous rights, including free, prior and informed consent from indigenous peoples for any projects that will impact their communities and territories, as stated in the UN Declaration.

Ronald Brazeau, director of natural resources at Lac-Simon, a First Nation reserve in the province of Quebec, said permission is often lacking — and a unified model is being imposed on Indigenous communities around the world, ignoring local needs and solutions. Brazeau, director of natural resources at Lac-Simon, said Friday that he had the solution and that he has something to share.

“We live off the land. We have learned how to adapt to that territory, from generation to generation.”

Government Approach

In Canada, “the vast majority of conservation proposals and stewardship initiatives are led or co-led by Indigenous peoples,” explains Valerie Courtois, director of the Indigenous Leadership Initiative and member of the Innu Community of Mashteuiatsh in Quebec.

“Preservation really shouldn’t just be about reaching numbers and lines on a map, but really about taking that opportunity to repair the relationship between, here in Canada, what we call the Crown [the state]and those indigenous nations and their governments,” Courtois told Al Jazeera in an interview.

Victoria Watson, a law specialist with Ecojustice who is also of mixed Haudenosaunee, and Scottish descent, said to Al Jazeera, “true Indigenous Leadership” should be at center of any plans for Canada’s restoration and protection of Canada’s biodiversity.

Watson stated that governments must ensure that any agreements resulting from COP15 and any national legislation on biodiversity include mechanisms for accountability as well as legislative safeguards that guarantee that governments “respect Indigenous rights” in a strong manner that is compatible with self-determination. . .

She stated that these laws and agreements must be “developed together avec indigenous peoples.” “Laws, knowledge systems and rights, as well as worldviews and worldviews, of indigenous peoples, must be shaped to allow the preservation and restoration of biodiversity.”

Justin Trudeau, the Canadian Prime Minister, spoke at COP15’s opening ceremony on Tuesday. He announced that his government would contribute $256million (C$350million) to help developing countries preserve biodiversity and implement future frameworks.

Trudeau also pledged $586 million (C$800 millions) to support four Indigenous-led conservation initiatives in Canada. These projects cover nearly one million square kilometers (386,000,000 square miles). “We know that protecting 30 percent of our territory requires us to form a large number of partnerships; first and foremost partnerships with indigenous peoples who have protected these areas since time immemorial,” he said in French at a press conference this week.

But indigenous youth activists briefly interrupted Trudeau’s speech at the opening ceremony was criticized for his disrespect for indigenous peoples and laws. Although he supports international climate efforts, Trudeau is widely criticized for his support of major domestic development projects, such as oil pipelines from Canada’s west coast and into America.

Trudeau was briefly interrupted by indigenous youth during the opening ceremony at COP15 [Christinne Muschi/Reuters]

Many of these projects have been met with fierce opposition by indigenous communities, who claim that authorities never obtained their permission to proceed. Police crackdowns have been triggered by protests and blockades organized by indigenous groups.

“That was our way of showing that as a West Coast indigenous people [Trudeau] does not follow our laws, that he does not follow the laws of the land and that we can no longer accept empty promises from Canadian politicians about our future,” said Ta’Kaiya Blaney, a youth activist from the Tla-Amin Nation who delivered the speech of the Prime Minister on the COP15 protest.

“Low promises, false solutions and fictitious goals… that do nothing but shift the burden onto future generations are unacceptable,” she also said at the press conference.

“Take a Position”

While Indigenous groups around the globe are calling for recognition of their leadership in biodiversity issues, many communities don’t wait to be officially recognized to protect their territories.

One such effort is the Seal River Watershed InitiativeA First Nation-led campaign to designate a pristine watershed, in northern Manitoba, Canada, an Indigenous Protected Area. “The story has always been someone coming to tell us what to do. Someone comes and moves us; someone else telling us you can’t harvest your own food,” said Stephanie Thorassie, executive director of the initiative and member of Sayisi Dene First Nation.

In the 1950s, Canadian authorities were established Forced to Move The indigenous community of its ancestral territory, snatching peoples from the land where they had lived for generations and hunted caribou.

“As we see from the past and the terrible history we live, [that narrative] Our communities and our peoples have not been served by this approach. We know now and are taking a stand,” Thorassie told a panel discussion on Native Biodiversity Leadership at McGill University Tuesday.

Thorassie stated that efforts were being made to improve the Watershed of 50,000 km (19,300 sq mi). They are “for our futures, for our cultures and for our languages” and seek to ensure that Indigenous Peoples have “a place to authentically ourselves”, while also supporting the larger fight to protect the planet.

She stated that “we understand that the place we’re referring to has two million tons of carbon on an international scale.” It’s literally a pair for this Earth that we desperately need to survive.

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Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

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