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Monday, October 23, 2017

Climate Refugeeism from Rising Tides

Refugees: Are We Eating our Young?

Islands at Risk

Deborah Levine, Editor-in-Chief of the American Diversity Report

Refugee International reported a few years ago that a Kiribatian man tried to convince a New Zealand court to make him the world’s first climate change refugee. Kiribati is an impoverished group of Pacific islands vulnerable to rising sea levels. He didn’t succeed, but many experts predict a growing number of displaced people seeking asylum because of global warming. The planet has limited drinkable water, fertile land, clean air, and food. The planet’s current supplies are steadily shrinking.

At the same time, valuable resources such as oil, fishing areas, minerals, mines, and even illicit drugs have become a violent crossroads for old ethnic rivalries, international money, and survival. The result is a threat to a global and local economies. Corporations will eventually run out of poor populations to harness, foreign resources to exploit, and regions free of violence in which to operate efficiently and safely. Local leaders are battling fiercely to control access and power, ethnic divisions are stronger than ever, and refugees abound. Above all, the future of this planet, our youth, are experiencing challenges more likely to be identified with the Middle Ages than a post-modern world.

Islands disappearing underwater. Photo: The Guardian: Environment (See photo exposĂ©) 

Youth at Risk

The displacement of young people is producing experts in arenas that were once little known but are now all too central to society. Siddharth Chatterjee works at the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) since 2011. Before joining the IFRC, he served in the United Nations. A former Special Forces officer in the Indian Army, he is a graduate in Public Policy from the Woodrow Wilson School for Public & International Affairs at Princeton University, USA. In South Sudan, he negotiated the release and demobilized 3,551 child soldiers from the Sudan People’s Liberation Army. This demobilization of child soldiers was the first program of its kind during an ongoing conflict.

Unfortunately, many ethnic conflicts are likely to increase in direct proportion to the decrease in availability of vital resources. CNN.com reported what is becoming a familiar situation … “The South Sudanese government and military, dominated by the Dinka ethnic group of President Salva Kiir, is fighting rebels allied with former Vice President Riek Machar of the Nuer ethnic group… At stake for now is control of oil-rich regions responsible for more than 95% of the country’s economy, and perhaps leadership of the country.” In the first two weeks of violence, tens of thousands of people to seek the protection of United Nations forces. The high stakes involved with oil production as well as South Sudan’s gold, copper and possibly uranium resources, brought international pressure for what is, no doubt, a very uneasy cease fire.

Shocking pictures of refugees from Sudan, Syria, and Myanmar are reshape our world view. A Canadian high school senior Chelsea Liu wrote, “I recently came across an article titled “Millionth Child Flees Syria” on Yahoo News. The picture under the headline was one of a young girl, with dark circles under her eyes, staring hauntingly at the camera. In the West—perhaps in Canada—she would be going to school in a few years, wearing nice clothes and hanging out with friends… If she lived here in Oakville, she could do all of that, and more. But she’s in Jordan, sitting in a mobile home at a refugee camp. She’s wearing a blue blanket, and her candid expression shows nothing but distrust for everything that has come her way… How many times have we cried over something that we believe to be so utterly important, and yet so insignificant when compared to this little girl’s predicament?”

What to do?

What can we do to save the children caught up in these battles? They are the future of a society. Destroy them, and you destroy a culture and a generation. Yet, despite the compelling arguments for protecting the future generation, there is little escape for them. Much of the apathy or antipathy stems from a shortage of resources and an overall economic squeeze. How can any country support the tidal wave of refugees over time? How can we feed, clothe, and provide clean drinking water, not to mention jobs, healthcare, and housing?

Syria’s neighbors and European countries are imploding under the current weight of refugees. Yet, Egypt deported Syrian and Ethiopian refugees, Singapore deported Indian nationals, and National Turk Magazine reports on Saudi Arabia, “Thousands of Egyptians, Indonesians, Malaysians and others have been flown out of the country as the Saudi government seeks to create jobs for local people by deporting some of the estimated nine million foreign workers.”

No region is exempt from the challenges. The US tries to close its borders with Latin America. Trucks and boats of the poverty-stricken attempt life-threatening escapes not only from Syria but from Haiti, the Central African Republic, and other countries decimated by war or natural disasters. They often die in the attempt or end up in make-shift refugee camps that resemble hopeless prisons without adequate food, water, plumbing, or shelter.

The calls for help are many. Chatterjee asks, “Will this be the year to protect children caught in armed conflict? We were once filled with hope and happiness, eager to see a better world where Human Rights and equality are advanced. Yet, in another part of our world we see the compelling misery and despair.”

Beyond Compassion

It may be time to recognize that compassion can alleviate, but not resolve. Yes, humanity leads to acts that make a difference. However, there is simply not enough money or resources to counteract the massive dislocations we are seeing. Increasingly, our compassionate acts are like band aids, more temporary and less effective every year. How else can we use our humanity to magnify our efforts, to change the trajectory of the destruction of our children, our future?

Let’s address the root causes of “devour-our-young” syndrome that we are experiencing: Resources. We must create enough food and drinking water for the planet’s population so that we don’t end up killing each other to survive. None of us will be exempt from the impact of depletion. Therefore, we must invest in alternative fuels and renewable energy to power us beyond the fossil fuels that are poisoning the air we breathe. Housing must be energy self-sufficient with solar panels. Roof gardens and urban community farming plots should be encouraged to alleviate the loss of arable land. No longer can we turn a blind eye to the global impact of natural disasters.

Yes, it is humane to contribute food and clothing for those affected. However, the relocation of vulnerable populations only delays, not manages the problem. Investment in structures that can withstand changing weather patterns are long-term solutions that must be rapidly pursued.

As tribalism engulf our planet, armed-conflicts over diminishing resources are resulting in humanitarian crises that overwhelm our ability to assist. Decimating cities and regions in the process of wiping out the perpetrators is creating vast areas of destruction. There must be investments in innovative technology to re-build these areas for environmental sustainability. Will this be the year that world leaders recognize the urgency and act to save the planet, or are we eating our young for years to come in the fight over shrinking resources?

Sunday, August 06, 2017

Discover the Truth about Indigenous Peoples

The Indigenous World in 2017

10th Anniversary UNDRIP Special Edition eBook

The International Work Group on Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA) has published Indigenous World 2017 which provides an update of the current situation for indigenous peoples worldwide and a comprehensive overview of the main global trends and developments affecting indigenous peoples during 2016.
 Download Indigenous World 2017

Download Indigenous World 2017 for Free

The Indigenous World 2017 comes in a special edition marking the ten years anniversary of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The public launch took place April 25, 2017 during the 16th session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York.

Symbolically, it was launched on the same day, as the UN General Assembly marked the ten years anniversary of the adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Highlights of Indigenous World 2017

Despite some encouraging national achievements, the country reports from around the world in this year’s edition continue to illustrate the great pressures facing indigenous communities at the local level.

If national policies are even available they are often not properly implemented, while in some countries national policies are in direct contradiction with international human rights obligations, including the UNDRIP and ILO Convention No. 169.

The country reports reiterate that the main challenges faced by indigenous peoples continue to be related to the recognition and implementation of their collective rights to lands, territories and resources, their access to justice, lack of consultation and consent, and the gross violations of their fundamental human rights.

The issue of extractive industries is once again a recurrent and overarching theme in the Indigenous World. Numerous examples show that both states and industries are repeatedly ignoring the key principle of Free, Prior and Informed Consent.

Mega infrastructure projects, investments in extractive industries and large-scale agriculture are increasingly posing a threat to the everyday life of indigenous peoples and their ability to maintain their land, livelihood and culture.

The year 2016 also witnessed an alarming rate of violence and discrimination of indigenous peoples and human rights defenders around the world.

On a global level, the implementation of the commitments adopted by UN member states at the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples (WCIP) continued at a slow but steady pace.

2016 also marked the first year of implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and, here, indigenous peoples continued their engagement. Within the area of climate change, the Paris Agreement, adopted in 2015, entered into force in November 2016, which was seen as a great success with regard to states’ commitments to combating climate change.

About the Book: The Indigenous World 2017 contains 59 detailed country reports and 12 articles on defining global processes in a total of 651 pages.

International Authorities

Over 70 distinguished experts, indigenous activists and scholars have contributed to the Indigenous World 2017. Among the contributors are Claire Charters, Patricia Borraz, Albert Barume, Stefan Disko, Joan Carling, Robert Hitchcock, Lola Garcia-Alix and many more.

All the contributors are identified by IWGIA on the basis of our knowledge and network. The contributors offer their expertise on a voluntary basis, which means that not all countries or all aspects of importance to indigenous peoples are included in the book.

Still, any omissions of specific country reports should not be interpreted as “no news is good news”. In fact, sometimes, it is the precarious human rights situation that makes it difficult to obtain articles from specific countries.

The book is published with support from the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs / Danida.

USE OF THE BOOK: It is IWGIA’s hope that indigenous peoples themselves and their organizations will find the Indigenous World 2017 useful in their advocacy work of improving indigenous peoples’ human rights situation. They may also, in this regard, find it inspiring for their work to read about the experiences of indigenous peoples in other countries and parts of the world.

It is also IWGIA’s wish and hope that the Indigenous World will be useful to a wider audience interested in indigenous issues and that it can be used as a reference book and a basis for obtaining further information on the situation of indigenous peoples worldwide.

The Indigenous World 2017 is, in that sense, an essential source of information and an indispensable tool or those who need to be informed about the most recent issues that impact on indigenous peoples worldwide. Article reformatted from IWGIA Website book reference. 

Article: States and industries still ignore the rights of indigenous peoples

Despite significant progress on global and regional level, indigenous peoples are left behind when it comes to recognition and protection of their right to land, territories and natural resources. This is the main conclusion of IWGIA’s 30th edition of the annual global report on indigenous peoples.

For ten years, indigenous peoples like the Maasai, Adivasi, Inuit and Quechua peoples have had their own UN declaration that commits States to promote, respect and protect indigenous peoples’ rights.

Still, the dignity and survival of the world’s 370 million indigenous people is under threat, as the global race for land and natural resources is increasing.

The Indigenous World 2017 provides an update of the current situation for indigenous peoples worldwide and a comprehensive overview of the main global trends and developments affecting indigenous peoples during 2016.

Focus on the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

The Indigenous World 2017 comes in a special edition marking the ten years anniversary of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The public launch took place April 25 2017 during the 16th session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York. Symbolically it was launched on the same day, as the UN General Assembly marked the ten years anniversary of the adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Lola Garcia-Alix, co-director of IWGIA, says, “The adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is a landmark. Still, action on the ground is really needed. Good intentions are simply not enough, as indigenous peoples lose lands and livelihoods every day.”

United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples provides a legal framework and an instrument for fulfilling the rights relating to indigenous peoples, including recognition of their right to self-determination, collective land rights, self-determined development, culture and more.

During its first ten years of existence, the Declaration has helped to shape laws, policies and programmes worldwide and continues to do so.

Consultations ignored in the global run for land and raw materials

Still, the realisation of the Declaration falls short in many parts of the world. Numerous examples show that both states and indus­tries are repeatedly ignoring the Declaration’s key principle of free, prior and informed consent. The principle is to protect indigenous peoples by including them in processes that affect their lands and lives.

Kathrin Wessendorf, co-director and coordinator of IWGIA’s climate programme says, “In the global race for acquiring land for industries and large-scale infrastructure projects, indigenous peoples and their rights are too often neglected. International companies and States should be concerned with this development and take responsibility. We call for joint action to realise the Declaration and ensure the dignity and survival of indigenous peoples.”

Development projects on indigenous lands continue to take place without consulting the people living on and from the affected land. And increasingly, energy projects and tourism threaten indigenous peoples to the same degree as construction of hy­droelectric dams, fossil fuel development, logging and agro-plantations do.

Shrinking space for indigenous activists

The year 2016 witnessed an alarming rate of violence and discrimination of in­digenous peoples and human rights defenders around the world.

Conflicts over land often lead to forced eviction and displacement of indigenous peoples. When defending their rights to land and territory, indigenous peoples risk being arrested, harassed, threatened and even murdered.

Lola Garcia-Alix says, “We condemn the use of threats, arrests and violence against indigenous peoples. Our hope is that by applying the principle of free, prior and informed consent and by generally respecting indigenous peoples’ rights, violent conflicts over land and resources will decrease in the future.”

For any further questions, please contact IWGIA's Press and Communications team: press@iwgia.org or +45 30749470.

Content re-published from IWGIA WebSite for Globcal International Network followers.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Indigenous Unity in Diversity is Now a Reality

Indigenous Views Collated Worldwide 'For First Time'

By Lisa Nikalau at SciDev.Net

[MADRID] Indigenous people will soon be able to put their opinions across to international policymakers thanks to an initiative which is the first to collate their views worldwide, its developers say.

The initiative, known as the Indigenous Navigator, will be officially launched at the UN General Assembly in September.

It is the largest-ever attempt to fill the data gap in development specific to indigenous people, who account for some 370 million worldwide and are overrepresented amongst the poor, illiterate and unemployed, according to the project’s coordinator Cæcilie Mikkelsen.

“The Indigenous Navigator is a great example of how marginalised and excluded groups, who are invisible in official statistics, can collect data themselves.” -Birgitte Feiring

“For the first time, we have global indicators for monitoring the rights of indigenous peoples,” says Mikkelsen, coordinator for sustainable human development at the International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA). “It is an awareness raising, a monitoring and an advocacy tool.”

By providing a data collection method that is free, open source and available online, the initiative enables authorized contributors to answer user-friendly questionnaires at either a national or community level. Based on the responses, the tool then creates an index to illustrate the status of indigenous peoples’ rights in selected countries or communities. 
Connect to Data with Indigenous Navigator

In 2007, countries adopted the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), which set out a universal framework of minimum standards for indigenous people’s survival, dignity and well-being. Seven years later, UN member states and indigenous leaders took part in the first-ever World Conference on Indigenous Peoples.

But one of the most significant global commitments to addressing indigenous issues was the adoption of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. The ambitious goals refer to indigenous peoples six times, focusing on the systematic abuse of their rights, discrimination and other drivers that have left indigenous people behind in all measurements of human development.

A New Global Data Set

“The Indigenous Navigator is a great example of how marginalised and excluded groups, who are invisible in official statistics, can collect data themselves,” explains Birgitte Feiring, chief adviser of human rights and development at the Danish Institute for Human Rights (DIHR).

“The active assessment of their situation will [not only] strengthen and empower communities but also give them a powerful tool to raise their issues and concerns with governments, U.N. bodies and others,” she added.

Because the tool is web-based, however, some indigenous experts are concerned that the sample of indigenous leaders providing data will not be representative of the global community.

“Many indigenous people’s advocates — the organisations that represent them, their community leaders — many of them are online,” says Amnesty International’s indigenous rights advisor Chris Chapman. “There is a big bias among those who are online, particularly towards North America and Australia and New Zealand, so I think they’re going to have to somehow account for that.”

However, Chapman added that as a tool, the Indigenous Navigator allows people to take ownership of their needs, their liberties, what is said about them and who says it — rights which are recognised in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The Indigenous Navigator is a collaborative initiative developed and managed by IWGIA, DIHR, the International Labor Organization, the Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact, Philippines-based NGO Tebtebba and the Forest Peoples Programme. The initiative is also backed by the European Union.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Indigenous Forest Guardians: Good or Bad?

Empowering Indigenous Peoples with their Own Lands

Studies show Indigenous people are the best custodians of the planet's threatened forests.

By Paola Totaro
 
WASHINGTON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Granting formal land rights to indigenous people living in the world's tropical forests is among the most effective, but underused, ways to stop illegal deforestation that fuels violence, poverty and global warming, according to new research.

Local communities are best equipped to safeguard valuable forests, and those with strong land rights are the most effective, said a raft of studies presented this week at the World Bank's annual Land and Poverty Conference.

A representative from the Maya Leaders Alliance, Belize, addresses the crowd on behalf
of award winners at the Equator Prize ceremony in Paris. Image: Eco-Business
Deforestation is known to be detrimental to the earth's climate. Clearing woodlands for agriculture and grazing, and fires that often follow, is responsible for about one-tenth of carbon emissions that contribute to a dangerous rise in global temperatures, researchers say.

Shrinking forests can cause poverty and conflicts as well, as local residents are forced to compete for fewer resources.

A six-nation study for the World Bank's Program on Forests found deforestation rates are significantly lower where communities have legal rights to the forests and government support for management and enforcement, compared with areas elsewhere.

"Critical links" exist among land security, local economic development, biodiversity conservation and reduced carbon emissions, it said.

Research from Indonesia showed conflict over land was minimized and investment was encouraged when local communities were involved in designing transportation corridors around proposed mining projects.
Another study from Indonesia showed granting long-term rights over mangrove swamps to indigenous people has better protected the critical coastal ecosystems than in areas where the endangered buffers between land and sea are not locally managed.

Less than a fifth of the world's population has formal land rights, or tenure.

"Granting communal land rights to indigenous inhabitants of tropical forests is among the most underused and effective solutions to reducing deforestation that fuels climate change," said Peter Veit, director of the Washington-based World Resources Institute's land rights initiative.

"Securing rights also has implications for reducing poverty and conflict," he said.

More than 1,500 land rights specialists converged on the U.S capital this week to share their findings.
The use of giant swathes of information such as advanced satellite imagery can identify patterns such as water use in land rights and land management, said Andrew Steer, head of the WRI and a former World Bank Special Envoy for Climate Change.

"We can show water risk, make future projections of population, use crowd sourcing and cloud computing in a way that is transforming how water is used by private companies and indigenous communities," he said.
Many papers highlighted challenges posed to developing nations by big mining and agricultural industries that are using technology to gain access to remote regions.

Nevertheless, researchers said indigenous peoples and campaigners working with them are harnessing technology as well to expose illegal deforestation or land use and seek remedies and justice.

The research is significant to help back up indigenous communities' claims that they are the best custodians of global forests.

 Map illustrating that tropical regions contain 20% of the world's carbon. More
science reveals that these areas must remain natural for the survival of the planet.

Some critics have claimed remote tropical forests looked after by indigenous groups are protected due to a lack of development pressure rather than good management techniques.

An estimated 15 percent of the world's forest cover remains untouched.

Brazil, once a leader in slowing deforestation, has recently been accused of rolling back gains made by providing land rights to rural people in the face of recession and a political crisis.

The World Bank estimates that forest ecosystems cover a fifth of the land in Latin America, representing half of the world's tropical forests.
 

Reporting by Paola Totaro, Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, property rights and climate change. Visit news.trust.org/


Commentary: Indigenous peoples are in great danger globally as their territorial rights are being challenged by corporations and states that want to claim natural resources, often indigenous people are in the way and now for the first time in history there is a chance to perpetually preserve global biodiversity and what remains of our natural world with these spectacular people. Their freedom is our freedom, but theirs is at greater risk while at great disadvantage without empowerment to defend themselves and their rights as human beings.

Read more about forest carbon and indigenous peoples in Toward a Common Baseline of Carbon Storage on Collective Lands and Tropical Forest Carbon in Indigenous Territories; A Global Analysis.