World Rainforest Movement

The word of Indigenous Peoples in Lyon

The following are some quotes from indigenous peoples’ representatives at Lyon, which –in sharp contrast with government delegates– address the true issues at stake, in a climate change process which has until now ignored indigenous peoples (the Forum of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities on Climate Change also issued in Lyon a declaration, which is available at: ):

“Developed country proposals to buy the right to continue polluting the atmosphere by planting more trees makes a farce of the climate change negotiations,” said Héctor Huertas, an indigenous leader from Panama.

Clark Peteru from Samoa warned: “Not only are indigenous peoples on small island states on the brink of losing their lands to sea level rise, but indigenous peoples throughout the world, particularly forest-dwellers, are in danger of losing their lands and livelihoods to proposals to plant thousands of hectares of trees to act as gigantic carbon sponges. Mature forests will be cut down to make way for more rapid growing tree species and agricultural land will be transformed into tree plantations.”

“The proposal stinks, it gives the impression of doing something when the net effect is to make the problem worse. It allows industrial countries to continue polluting the atmosphere, and throws the social cost on marginalised populations” explained Raymond de Chavez of the Philippines. “It also establishes a market in carbon emissions which will benefit only developed countries. Profits will be made even as countries disappear under water or entire populations lose their lands. It’s obscene,” Chavez said.

“What is needed is a fundamental change in philosophy regarding our relationship to the earth. Only then will developed countries get serious and honour their pledges, already quite small, to reduce their carbon emissions rather than fiddle as the earth burns,” concluded Antonio Jacanamijoy of Colombia.

Article based on information from: ‘Indigenous Strive to Influence Global Climate Talks’, by Jaya Ramachandran, IPS, September 13, 2000