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Indigenous Peoples’ knowledge is vital to combat the climate crisis

Takeaways from Africa Climate Summit and Climate Week 2023

Last week in Nairobi, Kenya, governments, businesses, international organizations, civil society, and Indigenous leaders met at Africa Climate Week 2023 and African Climate Summit to highlight solutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while adapting to the climate crisis.

One message from the week is clear: Indigenous Peoples’ ancestral knowledge is vital to combating the climate crisis. If we scale up Indigenous-led actions and funding, we can protect our planet, peoples, and future.

Many stakeholders have identified nature-based solutions as key programmatic priorities in the next decade in the fight against climate change. Indigenous Peoples have been the world’s nature-based solution providers for thousands of years.

Highlights from Africa Climate Week

Over 30,000 people gathered for Africa Climate Week and Summit to explore solutions. In the opening ceremony, Anne Samante of the National Indigenous Peoples Coordinating Committee on Climate Change and MPIDO read a statement that was put together in an Indigenous Peoples pre-summit. 

Indigenous Peoples  “are not only victims but we also come with solutions,” Anne Samante said. 

The gathering concluded with the Nairobi Declaration – a common position for Africa leading up to COP28 with commitments around climate finance, renewable energy, a Global Climate Finance Charter, green minerals, and economic transformation. A key theme discussed throughout the week was the potential and need to include youth, one of Africa’s most valuable resource. The President of Kenya Dr. William Ruto acknowledged the role Indigenous Peoples play in their cultural landscapes in protecting forests, savannahs, marine environments, and drylands. 

Judith Kipkenda from the Ogiek Peoples of Kenya and the Global Indigenous Youth Caucus read the Indigenous Peoples’ declaration in the closing ceremony. It includes the following key themes: (1) Indigenous focal points and participation at African Union and United Nations level, (2) free, prior, informed consent (FPIC) and stopping evictions of Indigenous Peoples from their lands, (3) recognition and strengthening traditional knowledge systems and partnerships to integrate this knowledge with scientific knowledge, among others.

“Although we as Indigenous Peoples contribute the least to climate change, we suffer the most from its consequences. We are here with solutions and lessons,” Judith Kipkenda said. 

Indigenous knowledge systems for adaptation actions in Africa

In an Africa Climate Week side event organized on September 8 jointly by the FSC Indigenous Foundation (FSC-IF) and the African Development Bank (AfDB), Indigenous Knowledge Systems for Adaptation Actions in Africa, Indigenous leaders and key stakeholders discussed the necessity of including Indigenous knowledge for effective and long-term solutions to the climate crisis.

Dr. Al-Hamndou Dorsouma, Division Manager, Climate and Green Growth Department, African Development Bank, and Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, FSC Indigenous Foundation Council Chair, gave opening remarks. 

“Those with Indigenous knowledge have higher adaptation and lower vulnerability, they make informed decisions and used local knowledge of diversification of crops,” said Dr. Dorsouma.

“It is the time to trust Indigenous Peoples and learn from Indigenous Peoples,” said Hindou Ibrahim.

Then, a panel discussed the importance of Indigenous knowledge in addressing climate adaptation in Indigenous Cultural Landscapes, including Dr. Arona Soumaré, Regional Principal Climate Change Officer, AfDB; Daniel Kobei, Executive Director, Ogiek Peoples Development Program, Balkisou Buba, Vice President of the Cameroon Branch of the Network of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities for Sustainable Management of Central Africa Forests Ecosystem (REPALEAC); and Roopa Karia, Environment Office Director, USAID Kenya and East Africa. Salina Sanou, FSC-IF Regional Director for Africa and Asia, moderated the event. 

“We are moving away from a do not harm to an inclusive approach, “ said Dr. Soumaré of the AfDB.  

“While working with science, we need to consider Indigenous knowledge. Women are holders of that knowledge,” said Balkisou Buba. 

“Indigenous Peoples must be part of climate strategies from the design phase,” said Daniel Kobei, emphasizing that Indigenous knowledge is different from traditional knowledge. 

“A real concern from USAID is the legal rights of Indigenous Peoples and the human rights of Indigenous Peoples,” said Roopa Karia.

Dr. Alejandro Paredes, Interim Managing Director of the FSC Indigenous Foundation and Dr. Olufunso Somorin, Regional Principal Officer, Climate Change and Green Growth Program at the African Development Bank, closed the event.

Speakers agreed that Indigenous knowledge is powerful and we need to use it in climate adaptation strategies and actions. Indigenous knowledge is the future. 

We invite you to join us to make this future a reality as we carry this message to COP28 and work to elevate Indigenous-nature-based solutions with concrete actions. 

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Join us at Africa Climate Week 2023: Indigenous Knowledge Systems for Adaptation Actions in Africa

As guardians of 25% of the world's land, our knowledge holds the answers to tackle climate challenges through collaborative, multisectoral efforts.

In Africa, the greatest threat faced by Indigenous Peoples is the growing impacts of climate change. However, Indigenous knowledge is an effective climate solution. Indigenous Peoples’ land management techniques are not static but instead adapt to the shifting needs of the land and environment. Indigenous Peoples contribute little to greenhouse gas emissions while maintaining the largest carbon stores on Earth within their territories. Effective and long-term solutions to climate change must involve Indigenous Peoples as key stakeholders.

To learn more, join us at a side event at Africa Climate Week, organized jointly by the FSC Indigenous Foundation and African Development BankIndigenous Knowledge Systems for Adaptation Actions in Africa. The event will take place on Friday, September 8, 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm in Abedares Hall and will foster a dialogue between Indigenous leaders and key stakeholders to identify opportunities related to traditional, local, and Indigenous techniques for sustainable land use and climate change adaptation. 

Find more information below.

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Virtual event: USAID & Indigenous Peoples: Co-creation Efforts and Lessons Learned

Sara Omi, Coordinator of the Economic Empowerment Plan for Indigenous Women of Panama, will speak about the FSC Indigenous Foundation and our Indigenous Peoples Alliance for Rights and Development (IPARD) Program

To commemorate International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, on Wednesday, August 9, 2023, at 10:00 a.m. ET, USAID’s Inclusive Development Hub will host the virtual event, “USAID & Indigenous Peoples: Co-creation Efforts and Lessons Learned.” This event will showcase the impact of co-creation efforts that support Indigenous Peoples issues in Latin America. 

You will hear from Agency partners and USAID staff working on the ground with Indigenous Peoples in Guatemala, Panama & Colombia. Speakers will include:

  • Aj’bee Jimenez, Senior Advisor for Indigenous Peoples Issues, USAID/Guatemala 
  • Sara OmiCoordinator of the Economic Empowerment Plan for Indigenous Women of Panama, FSC Indigenous Foundation
  • Karina Ballén, Senior Manager in Mental Health and Psychosocial Care, International Organization for Migration 
  • Diana Aguas, Differential Approach Specialist, International Organization for Migration 

USAID Deputy Administrator Paloma Adams-Allen and Senior Advisor on Indigenous Peoples Issues Stephanie Conduff will provide opening remarks. 

If you require a reasonable accommodation, please contact reasonableaccommodations@usaid.gov

For questions on this event, please contact idcommunications@usaid.gov

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Scaling up Indigenous solutions to the climate change crisis

The Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities Mesoamerican Climate Week 2023 will convene multi-sector actors to discuss and optimize climate change actions for the protection of our forests, people, and future.

Climate change is a pressing global issue that demands immediate attention. To shed light on the Indigenous perspective and present Indigenous-led actions to tackle this crisis, leaders from Mesoamerica and around the world will converge in Panama City, Panama, from June 13-16, 2023, for the Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities Mesoamerican Climate Week 2023. This event will serve as a platform for profound discussions on safeguarding our forests and securing the survival of our communities.

This forum, organized by the Mesoamerican Alliance for Peoples and Forests (AMPB) and supported by the FSC Indigenous Foundation through the Indigenous Peoples Alliance for the Rights and Development (IPARD), is a space designed by Indigenous Peoples and local communities to present their territorial experiences and explore, together with strategic allies, the valuable opportunities for direct territorial investment that will allow the scaling up of ancestral solutions to the climate crisis with a territorial perspective.

United against climate change

There is no single actor that can be successful in fighting climate change. We need collaboration among Indigenous Peoples, civil society, the private sector, and government to reduce climate risk by building on Indigenous-nature-based solutions.

Indigenous Peoples and local communities of the region are experiencing first-hand the impacts of climate change and have developed innovative strategies to adapt to adversity. These communities influence approximately 50 million hectares of forests that host 8% of the world’s biodiversity and store 47% of the region’s forest carbon stocks. 

During this week, representatives from Indigenous and local communities will share their experiences of resilience, struggle, and adaptation in the face of increasingly extreme conditions.

This hybrid event will be attended by governments of the region, regional alliances, international cooperation, and philanthropic donors and will be organized by thematic days listed below.

A holistic approach to addressing climate change

At the FSC Indigenous Foundation, we know that Indigenous Peoples are inextricably linked to their lands and natural resources. For this reason, our Global Strategy focuses on Indigenous Cultural Landscaliving landscapes that hold immense value for Indigenous Peoples, who have maintained enduring pes, or relationships with the land, water, flora, fauna, and spirit. This approach recognizes and acknowledges the cultural and traditional way Indigenous Peoples manage their territories on the ground and incorporates a holistic territorial perspective into all our areas of work. 

We are supporting Climate Week through our Indigenous Peoples Alliance for Rights and Development (IPARD) Program and as part of our collective efforts to strengthen Indigenous Peoples’ organizations at the regional level to achieve self-development, self-governance, and self-reliance. We are working to empower a new generation of Indigenous leaders to combat the challenges of climate change and determine a different course of action for the future of the planet. This week will be an incredible opportunity to advance these goals and connect Indigenous and local communities with the resources they need to scale up their ancestral solutions that have been safeguarding our planet for millennia.

Join us to support ancestral Indigenous and community-based climate solutions for a sustainable future. 

Download the full agenda of the Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities Mesoamerican Climate Week 2023 here and find more information on AMPB’s website.

The venue for the week is the Hotel El Panama in Panama City, Panama. Virtual connection and livestreaming of the sessions will be available in English and Spanish here.

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