Am 13. November 2021 endete in Glasgow die 26. UN-Klimakonferenz. Die „Conference of the Parties“ ringte um eine internationale Einigung über den Umgang mit dem Klimawandel. Neben Zehntausenden von Verhandlungsführenden, Regierungsvertretenden, Unternehmen und Bürger*innen waren auch führende Politiker*innen nach Schottland kommen, um zu verhandeln. Aus Glasgow berichten Studierende der TU München auf unserem Blog von Ihren Eindrücken, Hoffnungen und Wünschen für die Konferenz. Heute ein Beitrag von Carmen Autrique Echeveste und Isabel.
A call to end the war on Pachamama and to protect its biggest protectors
As human activity takes over Earth’s land and resources (with 75% of the globe’s surface already under direct exploitation), indigenous communities find themselves at the forefront of the fight against climate change. This year, they finally have a seat at the table during the COP26 conference. But, how strong are their voices being echoes, and how much of them are actually being heard?
So, first things first, who are the indigenous communities?
Indigenous people are the descendants of those who inhabited a country or geographical region at the time when people from different cultures or ethnic groups arrived. This arrival was in of itself a violent imposition of the newcomer’s way of life, be it through occupation, conquest or settlement, and constituted a shift of power dynamics through which autochthonous communities became endangered minority groups within their own territories.
Nowadays, the main 7, UN recognized, indigenous regions are: Africa; Asia; Central and South America and the Caribbean; the Arctic; Central and Eastern Europe, Russian Federation, Central Asia and Transcaucasia; North America; and the Pacific. With most indigenous communities (around 70%) living in Asia.
Why are they so important in the fight against climate change?
Despite only representing 4% of the world population, indigenous communities are the caretakers of 20% of the Earth’s territories, which represent 80% of the planet’s biodiversity. In this way, indigenous people are at the forefront of the fight against climate change, not only as preservers of the world’s main ecosystems, but also as holders of a unique set of skills, philosophies and ways of understanding the natural world, which are known as “Indigenous knowledge”.
This way of understanding their surroundings sets a clear differentiation between indigeous communities and the dominant populations which, through time, have distanced themselves from this particular way of looking at the world. In this sense, and now more than ever, modern societies have a lot to gain from learning from this indigenous knowledge.
What are they demanding and expecting of COP26?
As one of the most marginalized groups on the planet, with a very small role in the political systems of their countries, and as they continue to see the exponential growth of the effect of climate change in their communities, they are bringing a wide and diverse agenda to Glasgow.
Unlike in previous COPs, they now have a delegation with representatives from each of the 7 regional areas. This representation has been felt since the first moments of COP26. During the opening ceremony, Txai Suruí, a spokeswoman from the Paiter Suruí tribe in the Amazon rainforest, in Brazil, gave a moving speech to the most important world leaders. Where she stated that: “we have to hear mother nature’s voice” and that “she is telling us to stop”.
And it was also felt in the streets of Glasgow, where, on Saturday 6th a massive demonstration with around 100,000 protesters took place, amongst which there were many representatives of the indigineous communities. There, we took upon ourselves the task of listening to what they had to say and we were able to interview 2 of them: Jorge, from pueblo nación Mapuche, Chile; and Wilma Esquivel from Quintana Roo, México. Jorge came with the collective “Minga indígena” and Wilma with the collective “futuros indígenas”, together with 9 other women in representation of their communities. As they told us, they both had to find collectives to sponsor their trip because their own governments wouldn’t pay for them (not surprisingly) and only because of this they were able to attend the COP26 in order to make their voices heard (with many other leaders unable to make it due to the vaccines not reaching their communities).
Their demands are a representation of those from the indigenous collective: protection for their lands, support from the international community, a seat at the table, respect for their communities and traditions (which have not been respected since colonialism) and mostly, protection for their people. This is something which normally we wouldn’t hear in the news, but the indigineous defensors of the land face constant violence, kidnapping, murder (indigenous women are 12 times more likely to go missing or be killed), abuse, and they have to live with the impunity for this crimes. They do not feel represented and respected from their own governments which is why they demand international aid. They are facing the biggest impact of human activities, and will face the worst repercussions for climate change. The sad thing about this is that they have done nothing but respect, nurture and protect mother nature.
Foto: Carmen Autrique
Foto: Carmen Autrique
Foto: Laurin Reim
Are their voices being heard?
But, despite the great mobilization and the clear set of objectives that they have brought to Glasgow, this COP is presenting grim perspectives for indigenous communities as world leaders turn a deaf ear.
This has led to a strong anti-COP sentiment within people from these communities, which do not believe it is possible to improve the situation of their marginalized societies while preserving a colonial, capitalist system. A great representation of this pessimism can be clearly seen in the speech by land defender, Sii-am Hamilton, on Friday the 12th, the closing day for COP26. In her words “COP26 is a performance, an illusion instructed to salvage capital economies rooted in resource extraction and colonialism”, further stating that “corporations and governments who have caused climate change are here right now and they are ignoring us, salvaging their profit and getting away with it. We need to be fighting for COP26 to be obsolete”.
So, seeing the grim picture painted by indigenous activists, is there any chance for a better future?
Über die Autorinnen
Ich bin Carmen Autrique Echeveste, ich komme aus San Luis Potosí, Mexiko. Ich habe Wirtschaftsingenieurwesen studiert, mich dann aber entschieden, einen anderen Weg einzuschlagen und das zu verteidigen, was mir am wichtigsten ist. Deshalb habe ich mich entschieden, meinen Master in Nachhaltigem Ressourcenmanagement an der TUM zu machen. Ich liebe Hunde, meditiere, wandere und lese gerne ein gutes Buch.
Mein Name ist Isabel und ich komme aus Spanien. Ich habe einen Hintergrund in International Business und interessiere mich sehr für die Überschneidung von Geopolitik, Wirtschaft und Klimaschutz. Deshalb habe ich mich entschieden, meinen Master in Nachhaltigem Ressourcenmanagement an der Technischen Universität München zu machen.