Bali, 10 December 2007
Inuit leaders are attending the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bali to meet with government leaders and UN officials, explaining to them how Inuit are trying to cope with the effects of climate change. The Inuit leadership is demanding that Inuit concerns, along with other indigenous peoples, will be part of the post-Kyoto process.
We were not at the table in the 1990s when Kyoto was being crafted, stated Patricia Cochran, Chair of the Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC). This time we are making sure Inuit are not shut out.
ICC Canada Vice President, Violet Ford, said the characteristics of the Arctic environment are such that the impacts of climate change are being felt strongly today. Many Inuit cant access their traditional hunting grounds because of melting or non-existent sea ice, and our villages and towns are facing erosion and other problems.
It is now an accepted fact that the melting glaciers in the Arctic will affect small islands around the world as sea levels rise. Many of these small island developing states are populated by the most marginalized and vulnerable peoples of the world, a large percentage of whom are indigenous. We are here also in solidarity with other indigenous peoples of the world, said Ms. Cochran.
The Bali conference is aiming to put in place a two-year process that will end in a global deal on what to do after the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012. ICC is calling for the formal inclusion of Inuit and other indigenous peoples in this process. ICC wants both adaptation and mitigation to be part of the end deal, but most of all the Inuit leadership wants Inuit at the table so their views will ultimately be reflected in the final agreement.
Our significant traditional knowledge adds to conventional science and environmental observations which together become an invaluable basis for developing adaptation and natural resource management strategies, said Ms. Ford. Traditional knowledge is essential for understanding the effects of climate change on indigenous communities and for shaping the appropriate framework responses, she concluded.
ICC Canada President, Duane Smith, was encouraged by todays commitment by Canada to bring resources to Arctic communities to study the impacts climate change has already inflicted upon Inuit but strongly noted that solutions to the climate change challenge cannot only be made in Canada, but will be found only in a global effort, something the Canadian government needs to understand.
Greenlander Aqqaluk Lynge, Vice Chair of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues and its Arctic member, agreed. We will not solve the problem of climate change on a piecemeal basis. I hope all countries, including the 8 Arctic states, will work together to stop emissions at their source and help build binding international treaties. Mr. Lynge is also President of ICC Greenland.
Tomorrow ICC is hosting an indigenous-centred side event at the Bali conference. This side event has generated much interest as it focuses on global solutions and in solidarity with numerous indigenous peoples who are also present.
The Inuit Circumpolar Council represents Inuit from Russia, Alaska, Canada, and Greenland on matters of international importance.
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