New York, 25 September 2007
Yesterday, almost 80 heads of state accepted the invitation of the United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, to attend the UNs first-ever high level climate change summit. Mr. Ban also invited a few others from specific sectors of civil society affected most by climate change, including the Chair of the Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC), Patricia Cochran.
Ms. Cochran spoke mostly about the need for the UNs Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) not to make the same mistake it did over a decade ago when indigenous peoples were left completely out of the process, including the one leading up to the signing of the Kyoto Protocol. As the UNFCCCs 13th annual meeting in Bali approaches, she said that UN member states should not look to technology alone to help indigenous peoples adapt to the new realities of climate change, but rather a well designed process that puts indigenous peoples at the centre. The Bali meeting will, in large part, focus on what to do after 2012 when Kyoto runs its course.
Duane Smith, president of the Canadian office of ICC agreed with Ms. Cochran. whether one should focus more on adaptation than mitigation is not the central issue we need to do both. The important thing to remember is that indigenous peoples are the most vulnerable when it comes to climate change and must be at the centre of the discussions this time around.
As she was the only indigenous person to speak alongside the heads of state, Ms. Cochran said that Inuit in the Arctic stood in solidarity with other indigenous peoples globally, and had a lot in common when it came to climate change. She said the changing animal migration patterns in Greenland, the disappearing sea ice in Canada, and the eroding shores of Alaska were not only Arctic phenomena but were increasingly experienced by indigenous peoples in the southern hemisphere. Melting glaciers and ice caps in the Arctic would further impact on those in the south.
The Secretary-General concluded after the meeting that he was extremely encouraged by the fact that climate change was so directly and constructively discussed at the highest level for the first time in history. This event has taken us into a new era: Today I heard a clear call from world leaders for a breakthrough on climate change in Bali. And I now believe we have a major political commitment to achieving that.
For more information:
Patricia A. L. Cochran Chester Reimer
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