Second International Indigenous Forum on Climate Change, 11-12 November 2000

Declaration of indigenous peoples on climate change (also Word-document)
Indigenous Peoples Delegation to the Sixth Session of the U.N. Conference of the Parties on Climate Change Native Americans attend the UN Negotations on Climate Change in Hague
Inuit witness climate changing
International Institute on Sustainable Development: Video - Sila Alangotok: Inuit Observations on Climate Change

Second International Indigenous Forum on Climate Change


The Hague, November 11-12, 2000


We, the Indigenous Peoples of our Mother Earth, as partners with in the United Nations Family, have collectively developed our rights, responsibilities and aspirations in international law and formal declarations, including the U.N. Draft Declaration on Indigenous Peoples Rights. In the light and spirit of these instruments we welcome this opportunity to participate in the UNFCC -Process, for the recognition, promotion and protection of our rights. As the Delegates of Indigenous Peoples and organisations convened on the occasion of the Sixth Conference of the Parties of the Framework Convention on Climate Change in the Second International Indigenous Forum on Climate Change at the Hague from November 11th to the 12th, 2000, we affirm the Albuquerque Declaration, the Quito Declaration, Lyon Declaration and Position Paper of the First Forum of the Indigenous Peoples on Climatic Change. Furthermore, we address the Parties and other participants at this Conference to share the conclusions of our Forum:


1. Earth is our Mother. Our special relationship with Earth as stewards, as holders of indigenous knowledge cannot be set aside. Our special relation with her has allowed us to develop for millenia a particular knowledge of the environment that is the foundation of our lifestyles, institutions, spirituality and world view. Therefore, in our philosophies, the Earth is not a commodity, but a sacred space that the Creator has entrusted to us to care for her, this home where all beings live.
2. Our traditional knowledge on sustainable use, conservation and protection of our territories has allowed us to maintain our ecosystems in equilibrium. This role has been recognised at the Earth Summit and is and has been our contribution to the planet's economy and sustainability for the benefit present and future generations.

3. Our cultures, and the territories under our stewardship, are now the last ecological mechanisms remaining in the struggle against climate devastation. All Peoples of the Earth truly owe a debt to Indigenous Peoples for the beneficial role our traditional subsistence economies play in the maintenance of planet's ecology.

4. Over twenty international instruments affirm, promote or suggest the rights of Indigenous Peoples to full and direct participation without discrimination in the development of national and international policies that have the potential to impact upon us. However, while instruments such as the ILO Convention covers a wide range of Indigenous Peoples rights, such as labor issues, land rights, social and economic rights, cultural rights, political representation and self-governance, they fail to adequately protect our concerns with regard to the destruction of the Earth's climate.

5. We reaffirm our ancestral rights to self-determination and our right to decide without any outside interference on issues directly or indirectly related to our lands and territories, that include terrestrial and marine ecosystems and that are among the most diverse and particularly fragile on the planet.

6. There have been advances in the legal-philosophical debate for the recognition of our collective rights. Furthermore, we think that there have been regional and national advances on this matter, but unfortunately, grave and systematic human rights violations and violations of the fundamental liberties of the Indigenous Peoples persist.

7. Climate change is a reality and is affecting hundreds of millions of our peoples and our territories, resulting in famine, extreme poverty, disease, loss of basic resources in our traditional habitats and provoking involuntary displacements of our peoples as environmental refugees. The causes of climate change are the production and consumption patterns in industrialised countries and are therefore, the primary responsibility of these countries. The policies of developing countries and economies in transition that promote coal and uranium mining, logging, nuclear and large hydro electric power station and oil and gas extraction and transportation contribute to climate change and the destruction of our territories.

8. We are profoundly concerned that current discussions within the Framework Convention on Climate Change, as well as the practical implementation of the Kyoto Protocol do not recognise our right to adequate participation. These policies and mechanisms exclude us as participants, deny our contributions, and marginalize our Peoples.
These policies and mechanisms will permit developed countries to avoid their responsibility to reduce emissions at source, promote the expansion of global capital, and deepen our marginalization.

9. We are also profoundly concerned that the measures to mitigate climate change currently being negotiated are based on a worldview of territory that reduces forests, lands, seas and sacred sites to only their carbon absorption capacity. This world view and its practices adversely affect the lives of Indigenous Peoples and violate our fundamental rights and liberties, particularly, our right to recuperate, maintain, control and administer our territories which are consecrated and established in instruments of the United Nations.

10. We reject the inclusion of carbon sinks within the CDM and disagree with the definition of carbon sinks as stated in the Kyoto Protocol. We, as Indigenous Peoples, manage the ''natural carbon sinks'' in our territories according to our world view and their integral use is a right that our people have and exercise according to our local and specific needs. We do not accept that forests are valued only for their carbon sequestration capacity.

11. We are profoundly concerned that the current proposed definitions of afforestation, deforestation, and reforestation pose a threat to the traditional uses of Indigenous Peoples of their lands and territories. We demand that these definitions be in accord with the already accepted definitions in other international conventions, specifically the Convention on Biological Diversity.

12. Concepts, practices, and measures, such as plantations, carbon sinks and tradeable emissions, will result in projects which adversely impact upon our natural, sensitive and fragile eco-systems, contaminating our soils, forests and waters. In the past, even well intentioned development policies and projects have resulted in disastrous social and ecological consequences. In this case, the concepts, policies and measures being negotiated do not consider the best interests of Indigenous Peoples. Consequently, we cannot accept any concepts, projects or programmes that ravage our territories or deny, limit, or restrict our fundamental rights and freedom.


1. We propose that COP guarantees the fullest and most effective participation of Indigenous Peoples in all activities related to the FCCC through:

a. notation of this Declaration,

b. accreditation of Indigenous Peoples with special status in the decision-making processes in the Conference of the Parties, meetings of the Subsidiary Bodies, as well as at all activities carried out within the Convention;

c. establishment of an ad-hoc, open-ended working group on Indigenous Peoples and climate change with the broad participation of Indigenous Peoples;

d. creation of a Division on Indigenous Peoples within the Convention's Secretariat;

e. inclusion of a permanent agenda item on Indigenous Peoples in the permanent agenda of the COP and its subsidiary bodies and all activities that they organise;

f. meaningful consultation between the FCCC and the CBD, the proposed Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, and other bodies dealing with Indigenous issues;

g. inclusion of Indigenous Peoples in the IPCC, Executive Board of the CDM, expert review teams and the compliance committee;

2. We propose that COP establish appropriate programs of capacity building, formation and diffusion of the Convention and the Kyoto Protocol and its activities with the participation of the representative Indigenous organisations.

3. We propose that COP support access for Indigenous Peoples as equal partners at every level of decision-making including needs assessments, case studies, and national and international policy-making activities concerning climate change impacts, causes and solutions.

4. We propose that to ensure the non intervention of oil, gas, nuclear and large hydro-electric power station, logging and mining companies, in their exploitation of natural resources in Indigenous territories, COP support Indigenous Peoples in our permanent struggle to defend the environment through such actions as:
a. establishment of a moratorium on these activities in pristine areas and the promotion of locally appropriate, renewable, and efficient energy solutions;

b. imposition of legally binding obligations to restore all areas already affected by such activites, with the participation of Indigenous Peoples; and

c. creation of a fund for use by Indigenous Peoples to address the potential and actual impacts of development and climate change in the short and long term in a manner compatible with our traditional and customary cultures and lifestyles.

The Hague on the 15th of November, 2000

Indigenous Peoples Delegation to the Sixth Session of the U.N. Conference of the Parties on Climate Change

(The Hague, Nov. 16th.) A delegation of indigenous representatives from 22 different countries, and 28 distinct cultures, is currently assisting the sixth session of the UN Conference of the Parties on Climate Change (COP6), presently being held in The Hague, Netherlands. The Indigenous Peoples (IP) delegates are attending the COP6 to advocate preservation of the fragile ecosystems on their lands which are suffering serious environmental damage as a result of global warming. The delegates are also demanding that the governmental representatives of the Parties recognize them as full participants in the negotiations, the executive decision-making, and the ultimate implementation of the Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol.

The Second International Indigenous Forum on Climate Change was held the weekend preceding the COP6, on the 11th and 12th of November, so as to develop common points of negotiation to present at the Conference. The basis for ¨The Hague Declaration¨ (the informal name given to the document written by the IP representatives for COP6) was discussed at the aforementioned Forum and will be presented to the President and Secretariat of COP6 for subsequent widespread distribution to governments.

A press conference was held on Wednesday morning, November 15th, to inform the public about the results of the IP Forum and the IP presence at the Conference. IP delegates gave their personal testimony on the serious effects of climate change experienced on their homelands in various parts of the world. Rosemarie Kupatana, an Inuit native to the Canadian Arctic, related the concerns that the Inuit have about global warming. The changes in temperature have warmed waters, thinning the ice cover and greatly increasing the dangers involved in marine hunting and fishing on ice. Such meteorological changes have also affected the emigration of new bird and animal species to the local region, endangering the way of life for her region´s native species, which are now competing for territory.

Representing the concerns of indigenous peoples in the Island of Samoa in the South Pacific, Clark Peteru informed the press that, given the effects of global warming, small islands have no other alternative than to disappear and its indigenous populations, to emigrate to other areas of the world, losing their lands and, thus, their cultures and identities, in the long term. ¨We are seeing the arrival of catastrophic cyclones to the area that are causing the deterioration of coral reefs, which are our food source. Fresh water areas have become more and more scarce every day,¨said Peteru.

Antonio Jacanamijoy, representing the indigenous tribes and organizations of the Amazon Basin, gave an overview on the processes that led to the IP Forum in The Hague and the subsequent Hague Declaration. The IP presence on climate change issues began with an IP workshop in Quito, Ecuador from which ¨The Quito Declaration¨ was produced and consequently encouraged the presence of an IP delegation to the UN Subsidiary Body meetings held in Lyon, France in September. He told the press that the countries which are part of the Amazon Basin are uniquely concerned with the effects of climate change on their region. Jacanamijoy related that one of the direct results of global warming on the Amazon territories is the frequency of dry spells now altering wildlife habitat, and, therefore, the way of life of native indigenous tribes. Jacanamijoy expressed his concern over the Clean Development Mechanism proposed to the Kyoto Protocol, which can negatively affect the lives of indigenous peoples. ¨We are not in agreement with the definition of carbon sinks that the Kyoto Protocol proposes. We have managed natural methods of carbon secuestration on our lands, and have been doing so for milenia,¨ said Jacanamijoy.

The Indigenous Peoples delegation on Wednesday, Nov. 15th met with Minister Jan Pronk, the President of COP6 and Minister of the Environment of The Netherlands, host country of the Conference, and with the Co-Chairs of the Contact Group on Land Use, Land Use Change, and Forestry (LULUCF) and the Contact Group on Mechanisms. In the meeting with Minister Pronk, the IP delegates emphasized the need to create a UN working group on Indigenous Peoples to be present at future climate change conferences. After consulting with legal counsel, Minister Pronk responded by promising that the next conference will take into account the creation of an IP Working Group for inclusion in upcoming COP meetings, once the interests of other UN Working Groups are considered.

The IP delegation will address the plenary session of the COP on Monday, Nov. 20th, and will lobby various government representatives through the end of the Conference.


14 November 2000

Hague, Holland - Five delegates representing tribes and native non-governmental organizations from the United States are participating in parallel meetings at the United Nations negotiations on climate change and global warming. Around 160 countries are expected in The Hague, Holland for two weeks of talks to finalize the Kyoto Protocol, the world's only agreement containing legally-binding limits on emissions of global warming gases from industrialized countries.

''We are there to demand a process be established within the UN convention for the creation of a permanent forum for indigenous peoples to discuss and have input in these climate issues that threatens the survival of our world,'' says Tom Goldtooth, director of the Indigenous Environmental Network, one of the groups responsible for the participation of the delegation on native issues. ''Our native communities, especially the villages of the Arctic regions and those communities in the lower 48 that practice subsistence culture and lifestyle are disproportionately affected by climate change and global warming,'' said Goldtooth.

Participating in the global warming negotiations are Sarah James, from Arctic Village, Alaska; Sterling Gologergen, from Savoonga village, Alaska; Marilynn Goodhope, from Shishmaref village, Alaska; Robert Gough, representing the Intertribal Council on Utility Policy of South Dakota; and Shelly Means, with the Seattle Interfaith Global Climate Change Campaign.

''The ice is thinning and our way of life is being threatened'', says Sterling Gologergen, who works for Alaska Community Action on Toxics in Anchorage. IEN has reports of the Bering Glacier thinning and retreating, the forests of the Kenai Peninsula being destroyed by insect infestation brought about by temperature increases and soil erosion in Alaska villages. ''Soil erosion is something our people have never seen in their lifetime,'' says Art Ivanoff, environmental director at the Native Village of Unalakleet, who was scheduled to go to The Hague, but weather conditions prevented his travel.

The US delegation will be meeting with near fifty other indigenous peoples worldwide as part of a parallel meeting slated as the 2nd Forum of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities on Climate Change. Amazon Alliance for Indigenous and Traditional Peoples of the Amazon Basin, International Indian Treaty Council and International Alliance for Indigenous and Tribal Peoples of the Tropical Forests are some international indigenous organizations in attendance.

For further information:

Tom Goldtooth, Indigenous Environmental Network, (218) 751-4967 (US)
Antonio Gonzales, International Indian Treaty Council, (415) 641-4482
(US) Rebel Owens, Amazon Alliance, 011 33 66 354 8184 (Den Haag)

USA TEL: (218) 751-4967 FAX: (218) 751-0561 EMAIL: WEB:

''An alliance of Indigenous Peoples empowering Indigenous Nations and communities towards sustainable livelihoods, environmental protection of our lands, water, air and maintaining the Sacred Fire of our traditions.'' Online
Inuit witness climate changing

WebPosted Wed Nov 15 11:59:36 2000

WINNIPEG - For the first time in their oral history, Canada's Inuit people are seeing thunder and lightning. Electrical storms in the High Arctic are among the evidence of climate change being reported in a new study.

The research, conducted by the Winnipeg-based International Institute for Sustainable Development, is believed to be the first to intensively document aboriginal knowledge of changes to the Arctic environment.

Researchers spent a year in the community of Sachs Harbour, N.W.T., accompanying the locals on hunting and fishing trips. The scientists videotaped the natives telling of changes to climate and topography during their lifetimes.

The result is a portrait of environmental upheaval. Natives told of melting permafrost, thinning ice, mudslides, even the disappearance of an entire lake as its once-frozen shores gave way.

The freshwater fish that lived in the lake were killed as it drained into the ocean.

Scientist Graham Ashford, project manager at the institute in Winnipeg says the Inuit are the logical source for this type of information. He says that since they are out on the land all the time, they notice these sometimes very small changes.

Treading thin ice

Among the findings is the observation that thinner ice has made it dangerous to pursue polar bears and seals and more difficult for the bears to pursue their prey. Residents say the seals used to bask on ice floes in the harbour throughout the summer, but in recent summers the floes have disappeared.

People now see robins and barn swallows, species that never used to come so far north. There are unfamiliar beetles and sand flies. Melting permafrost is causing buildings to tilt and has ruined roads.

Ashford says climate change is no longer a theory. He says it's happening right now, and is affecting the lives of many of Canada's northern people.

He says the study underlines the need for Canada to take a lead in negotiations on climate change currently taking place in The Hague.

At the Kyoto conference of 1997, Canada committed itself to reducing greenhouse emissions six per cent from 1990 levels by 2010, but emissions have grown some 13 per cent since then.

Indigenous Peoples' Secretariat (Canada) on the Convention on Biological Diversity
Place Vincent Massey, 9th Floor
351 St. Joseph Blvd.
Hull, PQ K1A 0H3 Canada
Tel: 819.953.5819
Fax: 819.953.1765