San Francisco. On September 11, 2018, the Governors’ Climate and Forests Task Force unveiled a set of unifying principles to address deforestation, climate change, and the rights of Indigenous Peoples and forest communities. During the Global Climate Action Summit (GCAS), GCF Task Force members representing millions of indigenous peoples across Peru, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Indonesia, and Brazil, voted in unanimous approval of the Guiding Principles for Collaboration and Partnership Between Subnational Governments, Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities.
“What we’re suggesting is that this commitment has to be one that sees Indigenous Peoples as cultural, economic, and productive actors and creates intersectional public policies that consider us within this context. We, the Indigenous Communities […] are producers, merchants, and the providers of products that come from raw materials; we are part of small businesses and farming […] so we need policies that address our livelihoods holistically. I think it is crucial that a Governors’ group at this level adopt this as a fundamental principle around which policies will be developed in each of our territories.”
– Salvador Quishpe, Governor of Zamora Chinchipe
These leaders have been engaged in conversations for ten years, working to advance these principles with GCF Task Force member states, provinces and Indigenous leaders and communities. The product of their hard work is a partnership grounded in ideals of mutual respect and collaboration recognizing Indigenous peoples and forest communities as the true guardians of the forest, holding the invaluable, traditional and ecological knowledge needed to combat unsustainable deforestation. The GCF Task Force has been working steadily to build partnerships between governmental leaders, Indigenous Peoples and local communities, and is now beginning to implement Global and Regional Committees for carrying forth this work.
“Today we recognize the essential role of local communities and indigenous peoples for the conservation of forest territories and the development of effective climate change strategies. We recognize our multiculturality, and we extend our hand to join together in the arduous work ahead. To have any chance of success, we must strengthen the bonds that unite us and foster the inclusive and successful participation of all sectors of society.”
– Aristóteles Sandoval, Governor of Jalisco, Mexico.
Through this partnership, groups that have historically been at odds – Indigenous peoples, forest communities, state and provincial governments, and the private sector – have come together to address climate change and deforestation. The principles represent a major shift in the global fight against climate change, one that emphasizes that people on the ground cannot wait for national governments to act.
“I agree with the principles and feel happy because the governors have accepted them. However, the message we want to send is that we have to do more than just sign this paper. The principles need to reach the Indigenous Communities. We have to do this – because that is the work of the government – to get it done.”
– Francisca Arara, Coordinator, Organization of Indigenous Teachers of Acre, Acre State, Brazil.