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Threatened Indigenous peoples are a ready made climate change solution

Environment Defenders convened in New York ahead of Earth Day and the Paris Agreement to highlight the role forests and indigenous communities play in climate change solutions.

Securing rights to indigenous and community-held land protect against deforestation and can generate significant large-scale returns—economically, socially and environmentally. New research on the status of land rights in country commitments (NDCs) will also be released. Forests owned and managed by Indigenous Peoples and local communities contain approximately 37.7 billion tons of carbon—29 times more than the annual emissions of the world’s passenger vehicles.

Despite government and corporate commitments to respect Indigenous Peoples’ rights and prevent deforestation, there has been an uptick in violence against indigenous leaders who oppose projects that threaten their communities and their forests. The murder of Berta Cáceres in Honduras last month; of Edwin Chota, Jorge Rios, and two other Asheninka leaders in Peru in 2014; and the 26 March attack on Equator Prize 2015 winner from Cambodia, Ms. Phan Sopheak, are emblematic of battles taking place in some of the most remote indigenous territories worldwide. Rios’ daughter, Diana, was among the speakers at the event.

Watch the synopsis below. Please share on social media using #environmentdefenders.

Press Coverage

Threatened Indigenous peoples are a ready made climate change solution

Despite their crucial role, indigenous peoples around the world are being killed for defending their forests and protecting our climate.

At least 116 environmental activists were murdered in 2014, almost double the number of journalists killed in the same period. 40% were indigenous.

Over 900 were killed in the past decade.

In memory of environment defenders killed

Why indigenous rights are key to fighting climate change?

Read David Kaimowitz’s informative blog here.

Learn more about Diana’s story

Solutions: Indigenous peoples are the best guardians of the forest

Nobody is better placed to protect the world’s remaining forests than the indigenous peoples and forest communities who have sustainably managed them for generations, and whose intrinsic relationship with their environments are recognized in the Paris Agreement’s preamble.

Few Commitments on Land Rights & Climate Change

The events that took place over Earth Day

21st April – 9:00 ET – Forest for Climate – Live webcast

As world leaders meet at the United Nations in New York to sign the historic Paris Agreement on climate change, a mix of celebrities, scientists, and indigenous leaders from remote regions will hold a briefing on the critical role tropical forests – and the indigenous peoples and local communities who are protecting them – must play in bringing the agreement’s targets within reach. From UNDP and Ford Foundation.

21st April – 11:00 ET – Dag Hammarskjold Plaza – Protest & Photo Op

Following the briefing, join indigenous leaders to Dag Hammarskjold Plaza on a procession in memory of environment defenders outside the UN building in New York, on the eve of the Paris signing ceremony and Earth Day. Interview and photo opportunities available.

21st April – 23:00 ET – Times Square – New York City

Midnight vigil in memory of environment defenders.

Join indigenous leaders in Times Square in conjunction with Jungle-ized for a midnight vigil in memory of environmental defenders who have died protecting our climate. David Rothschild will also be speaking. Let us know you’re coming on the Facebook event.

22nd April – 12:00 – 14:00 ET – Dag Hammarskjold Plaza – New York City

Rally for people and the planet organised by the Women’s Global Call for Climate Justice, WEDO and many others. Female indigenous leaders open the rally outside the UN when the formal Paris agreement is being signed. Find the Facebook event here.

22nd April – from 15:00 ET – North Brooklyn Boat Club  – New York City

During Global Canoe’s actions, indigenous leaders paddle down some of the world’s most recognized rivers in the cities where United Nation’s agreements are taking place. Find out more. Facebook event here.

22nd April – 21:00 to 23:00 ET – The Park-Atrium 118 10th Ave, New York, NY 10011

Earth Day Blessing and Celebration with Shaman Eda Savala and Buddhist Activist-Monk Chipamong Chowdhury. Hosted by The Rainforest Foundation and Babel New York.

For our partners seeking more logistical information, click here.

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