Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Chilean Delegates Deliver Indigenous Peoples Caucus Opening Statement at COP 25 Plenary

By Native News Online Staff - December 04, 2019 at 12:00AM

Vairoa Ika Guldman    Photo Credit: David Tong

Published December 4, 2019

Rights Safeguards and Redress Mechanisms Key Priorities for Negotiations

MADRID, SPAIN — As state governments around the world open this years’ 25th Conference of the Parties (COP25), representatives of the Rapa Nui and Mapuche Indigenous Peoples of Chile delivered the Opening Statement of the Indigenous Peoples Caucus. The statement, which was developed by Indigenous representatives from the seven socio-cultural regions of the world, emphasized the need to include rights safeguards and redress mechanism to build upon human rights commitments, including respecting, implementing and upholding the rights of Indigenous Peoples as defined in the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and as affirmed in the Paris Agreement and Paris Decision. This year’s key agenda items include negotiations around finalization of the Paris Rulebook for full operationalization of the Paris Agreement by overcoming key disagreements and controversies regarding article 6 which addresses market and non-market solutions to climate change adaptation and mitigation.

Indigenous Peoples maintain that Parties should uphold human rights commitments, and the rights of Indigenous Peoples, as the minimum standard for creating meaningful pathways for addressing climate change impacts. The states are in disagreement, with some sharing this viewpoint as a key component for honoring the Paris agreement, while others consider finalizing negotiations of the article an achievement in itself even if it contains no mention of human rights or the rights of Indigenous Peoples. Meanwhile, states are also in agreement about the enormous importance and contribution of Indigenous knowledge systems and traditional ecological practices in informing pathways to mitigate, adapt and reverse the impacts of climate change that threaten ecosystems and biological diversity across the globe.

This is the full statement developed by the Indigenous Peoples Caucus, the as-read version was shortened in order to fit within the two-minute allotted time given to the Rapa Nui representative, Vairoa Ika, who delivered the statement.


Iorana Korua, greetings to all, I am Vairoa Ika Guldman of the Rapa Nui people belonging to Polynesia.

Indigenous knowledge is invaluable, sacred and collective. It has been transmitted and protected for generations. This knowledge includes indigenous health systems, which for Indigenous Peoples includes physical, emotional, spiritual and socio-environmental components. However, in Chile, as in many parts of the World, indigenous health systems have not been recognized, guaranteed or financed by the States in the same way non-indigenous health systems have. Indigenous health is important, as it seeks the healing of the individual, the community, the environment and its biodiversity, which currently are being threatened by the effects of climate change.

It is important not only to talk about adaptation and mitigation, but to deal with the root causes of the disease created by unsustainability and injustice.

States and companies should support and finance sustainable projects and initiatives in indigenous territories. They must develop ways to compensate for the extraction and devastation of ecosystems and natural resources.

It is unfortunate that we cannot hold this event in our territories, but we express our solidarity with all Indigenous Peoples who are fighting [even risking their lives] against injustice, permanent colonialism, and oppression. We also express our support to the indigenous sisters and brothers and to the defenders of human, environmental and territorial rights in Chile, Latin America and throughout the world.

As Indigenous Peoples, we turn to this COP for protection of all lives, both material and spiritual.

We are here for our daughters and sons, grandchildren and all our future generations, but also for theirs.

Our carefully balanced ecosystems have been damaged by the continuous attacks on our territories, lands and resources, which has had a negative impact on all our Peoples.

It is scandalous that ONCE AGAIN the most recent emissions disparity report has confirmed that emissions continue to rise.

But we will not stand by idly.

Indigenous Peoples have been pioneers in the care and healing of our Mother and Father Earth and we will continue at the forefront, leading you on the right path.

We have been doing our part since time immemorial, and it is time for you to do your part.

That is why we call on governments to give full force to human rights, including the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and safeguards and reparation mechanisms on issues that are the subject of debate such as: the Koronivia Dialogue on Agriculture; Article 6; the NDCs; and the protection of our oceans. Finally, we call for the adoption of the work plan of the Facilitative Group in the Platform of Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples.


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