Protecting Indigenous communities and their traditional land management cultures isn’t just the right moral choice, United Nations special rapporteur Victoria Tauli-Corpuz asserts. It’s also critical to the international fight to restabilize Earth’s climate.
Speaking in the walk-up to November’s COP 23 climate summit in Bonn, Tauli-Corpuz “urged politicians to recognize that Indigenous communities around the world were the most effective custodians of millions of hectares of forest ‘which act as the world’s lungs,’” The Guardian reports.
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“A quarter of the carbon stored above ground in the world’s tropical forests is found in the collectively-managed territories of Indigenous peoples and local communities,” the paper notes. It cites recent research which revealed that Brazilian forests controlled by Indigenous communities lost less than 1% of their area to deforestation between 2000 and 2012, “compared to 7% outside those areas.”
“Indigenous people’s rights need to be protected, not just for them, but because they are also able to provide solutions to many of the world’s problems, from climate change to biological diversity. They are the most effective stewards of these key areas,” the UN rapporteur said. “It is in the self-interest of states and even corporations in the medium and long term to protect and listen to these people.”
“The question is, will they realize this in time?”
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