Indigenous leaders continue to use their well-earned visibility to demand a system of climate finance that recognizes their expertise and labor, charges a fair price for the nature-based solutions they offer, and pays them – directly.
“The asset that we bring to the table is knowledge. To think about the future you have to think about the past,” Francisco Souza, managing director of the FSC Indigenous Foundation, said at a Sept. 23 event hosted by the international Indigenous rights organization as part of Climate Week NYC. “We have the solutions already.”
For companies and institutions that have made investments in nature-based solutions and/or buying carbon offsets part of their climate strategy, valuing Indigenous people’s contributions means investing in their organizations and projects, and paying a fair price for offsets.
“We want to tell the [donors] they should try working with [Indigenous organizations] directly. They do not need to go through too many people,” Oumaru Aissatou, vice president of the Network of Indigenous and Local Populations for the Sustainable Management of Forest Ecosystems in Central Africa, said through a translator at the FSC Indigenous Foundation event.
Research has repeatedly demonstrated the critical role Indigenous people play as forest stewards, emphasizing the need of preserving forests for combating the climate catastrophe and safeguarding millions of species in danger of extinction.
With 370 million members, these communities represent less than 5% of the world’s population, but they control or have legal title to nearly 25% of the planet’s land area and sustain 80% of the world’s biodiversity.
For instance, a United Nations report published last year found that Latin American Indigenous people are by far the best guardians of the region’s forests, with deforestation rates as much as 50% lower in their territories than elsewhere despite facing increasing, violent threats to their lands and lives.
“Indigenous communities make up less than 5% of the human population but manage or hold tenure over 25% of the planet’s land surface and support about 80% of global biodiversity.”