The Global Alliance of Territorial Communities issues a statement calling for a stronger commitment to land tenure as a key climate solution .
Declaration issued by: the Coordinator of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon River Basin (COICA) and its member organizations from the nine countries of the Amazon basin; the Mesoamerican Alliance of Peoples and Forests (AMPB) and its member organizations from six Mesoamerican countries; the Articulation of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil (APIB); the Network of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities for the Sustainable Management of Forest Ecosystems (REPALEF) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo; and the Alliance of Indigenous Peoples of the Archipelago (AMAN), which represents 17 million Indigenous Peoples throughout Indonesi
As an organization that represents Indigenous Peoples and local communities in 24 tropical forest countries, the pledge made at this World Leaders Summit to allocate $19.2 billion to support the recognition of land rights for Indigenous peoples and local communities is good news–and we are pleased by it. In making this commitment, major public and private funders acknowledge the critical role that we play in the fight against climate change and underscore the urgent priority that should be securing tenure over our lands.
However, we cannot receive this news with enthusiasm because we were not consulted in the design of this pledge. We suspect that many of these funds will be distributed through existing climate finance mechanisms, which have demonstrated great limitations in reaching our territories and supporting our initiatives. Furthermore, millions of dollars have already been invested to protect forests and halt deforestation, but have yielded minimal results. This is because governments are not present in these territories, which limits their capacity to implement long-term policies that protect natural resources.
Of the total funding committed to reduce deforestation, only a small fraction is likely to reach Indigenous Peoples organizations and local communities, as most of the funding flows through large intermediaries with excessive bureaucracy. Our suspicions are confirmed by the fact that practically none of these announcements have been previously consulted with us or our member organizations.
Nevertheless, we also have good news to contribute. Given that public and private donors, as well as philanthropies, have difficulty delivering funds at the community level, we have developed a series of recommendations to facilitate this process. These recommendations make up a new vision, the Shandia Vision: a financing ecosystem that will finally allow financial support to reach our territories.
As the Global Alliance of Territorial Communities, we commit to holding governments and investors accountable for the financial promises they made today, within the framework of our Shandia Vision, and we invite international cooperation to build a new mechanism for delivering climate finance. One that can truly reach the territories where the preservation of biodiversity and carbon stock is at stake.
“We protect most of the world’s remaining biodiversity, yet we receive less than one percent of international donor funding,” said Joseph Itongwa Mukumu, an Indigenous Walikale from the Democratic Republic of Congo who serves as coordinator for the Network of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities for the Sustainable Management of Forest Ecosystems (REPALEF). “If it is serious about ensuring that the forests remain standing, the global community must do more to recognize the rights of Indigenous peoples and to support our traditional governance structures.”
“We propose a new way of investing resources directly into our communities, who are on the frontlines of climate change and risk our lives to protect nature. Transforming the way climate finance is delivered locally would ensure a greater impact for the good of all humanity,” said Tuntiak Katan, an indigenous leader from Ecuador, and head of the Global Alliance.
Forests managed by Indigenous peoples and local communities have lower deforestation rates than similar lands managed by others. Between 2000 and 2012, for example, the average annual deforestation rates in our forests in Bolivia, Brazil, and Colombia were two to three times lower than those not managed by Indigenous peoples. But those gains come only when our communities have secure rights over their land, which is why funding such initiatives must be of paramount importance.
In addition to the recognition and protection of our communal land rights and customary tenure systems, we demand compensation for the range of ecosystem services—including protection from emerging pandemics—generated from our lands. We demand that investment decisions be determined from within our communities and that our elected leaders and traditional ways of life be respected in all decision-making arenas. And we request direct financing to support our efforts to sustainably manage our land and resources, with tools for monitoring and protecting it from intruders such as agribusiness and illegal miners and loggers.
“The commitment announced today to halt forest loss and protect Indigenous Peoples’ rights is long overdue,” said Mina Setra, an indigenous leader from Indonesia, and the Deputy Secretary General of the Indigenous People’s Alliance of the Archipelago (AMAN). “We applaud the governments and donors involved for taking this step to protect our rights and the global climate. However, this pledge must not replace the fundamental actions they must take to stop their companies’ from bulldozing our ancestral forests. To fulfill their mission and avoid a climate catastrophe, they must stop all deforestation on the lands of Indigenous Peoples and Local communities and work with us to protect the world’s last remaining tropical forests.”