The most inconvenient truth of all climate change and indigenous people

Indigenous people are on the frontline of climate change. Living in parts of the world where its impacts are greatest and depending largely, or exclusively, on the natural environment for their livelihoods, culture and lives, they are more vulnerable to climate change than anyone else on earth.

In 2005 a severe drought struck the Amazon rainforest, home to hundreds of indigenous peoples such as the Yanomami. The Inuit have said for years that climate change is affecting their land. Their whole way of life depends on ice – and now it is melting. Hunting and fishing have become more difficult, travel between villages dangerous, the existence of their homes precarious. Nenets reindeer herders from the Russian Arctic say they are facing increasingly unpredictable weather. Saami reindeer herders from Finland, Norway, Russia and Sweden report that herd numbers are declining, reindeer are finding it more difficult to access food, and are more likely to fall through thinning ice.

This report published ahead of critical climate change talks held in Copenhagen in December 2009, published by Survival International,the global movement for tribal peoples’ rights, recommends that the measures to mitigate the impact of climate change must: 
• Involve indigenous people fully and draw on their unequalled knowledge of their environments.
 • recognize and respect indigenous rights as enshrined in international law (ILO Convention 169) and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, particularly their right to the ownership of their land and their right to give or withhold consent to developments in their territories.

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