The side-event was part of the Sixteenth Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues organized by the International Labor Organization (ILO). Its main purpose is to launch its new report “Indigenous peoples and climate change: From victims to change agents through decent work”.
Martin Oelz from ILO first reported the key findings. He highlighted that indigenous peoples, despite their vulnerability to climate-induced threats and challenges, can be agents of change to achieve the SDGs and spur green growth based on their traditional knowledge. Oelz further demonstrated the contribution of the indigenous peoples by presenting some numbers. For example, indigenous peoples account for 5% of the world population, but they care for about 22% of the earth surface and protect 80% of remaining biodiversity on the planet.
Panelists then expressed their views in support of protecting indigenous peoples and their traditional knowledge. Sudatta Chakma from Bangladesh presented with his country’s efforts to protect the livelihood of ethnic minorities. Robert Glasser, Sille Stidsen, and Rishabh Kumar Dhir agreed with the ILO report that indigenous peoples are “at the vanguard of running a modern economic model based on the principles of a sustainable green economy”. They strongly believed that governments should learn from their traditional wisdom to achieve economic empowerment and environmental protection simultaneously.
Joann Mae Spotted Bear, a representative from Lakota, one of the indigenous peoples of the Great Plains of North America, made interventions during the panel discussion. She condemned the US government for threatening their clean water and land by approving the construction of Energy Transfer Partners’ Dakota Access Pipeline.
Overall, participants emphasized that the report launched by ILO enriched the ongoing discussion on the indigenous people’s related issues, including human rights, social justice, employment, traditional knowledge and climate change.
Meeting: Indigenous Peoples and Climate Change: From victims to change agents through decent work
Date/Location: Wednesday, April 26, 2017; 13:15-14:30; Conference Room 5, United Nations Headquarters, New York, NY
Martin Oelz, Senior Specialist on Equality and Non-Discrimination – Gender, Equality and Diversity Branch, International Labour Organization (ILO)
Sudatta Chakma, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Chittatong Hill Tracts Affairs, Government of Bangladesh;
Robert Glasser, UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction, (UNISDR);
Sille Stidsen, Senior Adviser, Human Rights and Development, Danish Institute of Human Rights;
Rishabh Kumar Dhir, Technical Officer, Gender, Equality and Diversity Branch, International Labour Organization
Written By: WIT Representative Jadice Lau
Edited By: Fred Yonghabi.