COP26: Indigenous Leaders fear Climate Negotiators will gut Rights Language from Article 6 of Paris Agreement

Britain’s President for COP26 Alok Sharma (2R) speaks with UNFCCC Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa (3R) and other members of his team following an informal stocktaking session at the COP26 Climate Change Conference in Glasgow on November 12, 2021. – A new draft COP26 statement called on nations to ease reliance on fossil fuels and boost funding to help vulnerable nations face the climate crisis as talks entered their final hours on Friday. (Photo by Ben STANSALL / AFP) (Photo by BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty Images)

Indigenous leaders at COP26 in Glasgow today warned negotiators debating Article 6 of the Paris agreement to resist efforts to roll back language in the text that defends the rights of Indigenous peoples, managers of 40 percent of the planet’s remaining intact ecosystems and vast carbon stores that are essential to meeting the climate crisis.

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and its United Kingdom hosts have raised the visibility of the world’s Indigenous Peoples at the COP26 to unprecedented heights, providing them with high-profile opportunities to advocate for rights to their territories and to a seat at the table in deciding how billions of dollars should be spent on conserving nature.

Yet the representative body of Indigenous peoples participating in the today released a position paper asking UNFCCC negotiators to maintain and strengthen Indigenous rights language in the Article 6 texts of the Paris Agreement. The release of the position paper suggests there may be push back from some member states.

“In their statements, some governments are responding to the significant body of evidence of our role in protecting so much of the natural world,” Jing Corpuz, Igorot from the Philippines and global policy lead for Nia Tero, an organization that works in solidarity with Indigenous Peoples globally.

“Nonetheless, we remain concerned that powerful forces are working to remove the language that would protect our peoples and the ecosystems we conserve better than anyone else.”

The final agreement on Article 6 would create a market-based mechanism to allow countries to use international carbon offsets to meet goals set under the 2015 Paris climate agreement. Indigenous delegations in Glasgow have been lobbying hard to ensure their rights are included in the final text.

“Violating the rights of Indigenous Peoples in the pursuit of carbon offsets should be viewed as a reason for voiding any nature-based solutions,” Corpuz said.

Forests can contribute as much as 37% toward climate mitigation goals that governments committed to in the 2015 Paris Agreement. Protecting forests, which harbor precious biodiversity, also helps to prevent encounters with wildlife that can encourage the spillover of potentially dangerous pathogens into human populations.

According to a new study released in October, voluntary commitments such as the ones being made at the COP to reduce deforestation have not succeeded. The authors warned they would continue to fail without centering the rights of Indigenous Peoples and their guidance in designing solutions.

“I am convinced that the future of humanity is directly connected to the future of  Indigenous peoples and their continued role as stewards of the world’s most intact ecosystems, said Peter Seligmann, CEO and founder of Nia Tero.

“The evidence suggests negotiators made a mistake in Paris in 2015, when Indigenous Peoples were sidelined and their rights removed in the final version of the Paris Agreement. The consequences of making the same mistake in 2021 would be disastrous—for Indigenous communities and for the planet.”

The following is the position paper of the International Indigenous Peoples Forum on Climate Change (IIPFCC), which “collectively request parties to support the following language and positions in the latest negotiations on Article 6.”

Recognizing that there is near universal support from Parties here at COP26 for the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (2007), and that Parties recommitted to upholding the Rights of Indigenous Peoples through the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples Outcome Document (2014), the IIPFCC consider the following proposals the standard for upholding the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in Article 6.

We request that Parties be vocal in introducing and supporting the following positions in ongoing Article 6 negotiations:

1. Human rights and Rights of Indigenous Peoples

1.1 The language of preambular paragraph 11 of The Paris Agreement must be maintained in the preambular and operational text of 6.2 and 6.4.

1.2 The language of preambular paragraph 11 of The Paris Agreement must be maintained in Article 6.8, and must be added to the principles in the annex of 6.8.

1.3 Para 24 (ix) of the annex to Article 6.4, to be consistent, should repeat the language of preambular paragraph 11 of The Paris Agreement.

2. Proposed language for 6.4, 31 (e) of annex:

Shall undergo local, national and subnational stakeholder consultation consistent with applicable domestic and international standards in relation to public participation, local communities, and Indigenous Peoples and ensuring compliance with the free, prior and informed consent of Indigenous Peoples.”

3. Grievance Mechanism

–     The grievance mechanism in Article 6.4 should be an independent body


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