The climate crisis is here – and its impacts, from wildfires to floods and heatwaves, are already being felt in all corners of the globe.
While it may be too late to prevent these disasters, it is crucial that we soften the blow by helping the most vulnerable people prepare and adapt, urged speakers on the first day of the Global Landscapes Forum (GLF)’s annual Climate event.
Held in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, and online alongside the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27), GLF Climate 2022 aims to amplify voices from the frontlines of the climate crisis, many of which are struggling to be heard at the COP.
“It is very important that COP27, a COP for implementation, does not exclude the voice of humanity: the most vulnerable communities,” said Yasmine Fouad, Egypt’s Minister of Environment.
As the event kicked off, the speakers’ message was clear: many communities are already in a state of climate emergency and require emergency response measures in the form of adaptation and resilience strategies.
These notably include many Indigenous communities, which play a pivotal role in stewarding the Earth and its biodiversity but face a multitude of threats including wildfires, land grabs and physical violence.
“Our fight is not only for rights, but it is a permanent fight for life,” said Sônia Guajajara, an Indigenous Brazilian politician and congresswoman. “Indigenous Peoples are just 5% of the world’s population, but 82% of the world’s protected biodiversity lies within our territories. We protect it, and often we pay the price with our own lives.”
“It’s important that those who defend nature the most have their rights respected, including the right to participate in decision-making spaces.”
To protect these rights, the Rights and Resources Initiative launched a set of best practice principles for recognizing and respecting the land and resource rights of Indigenous Peoples, local communities and Afro-Descendant Peoples. This is the first-ever common set of principles designed to help civil society organizations, companies and investors ensure that their climate, biodiversity, and sustainable development investments are rights-based.
“Rights are at the heart of both climate adaptation and mitigation. We need donors, investors, and the private sector not only endorse but actually implement these principles to move away from business as usual. It is important to have principles but unless they are implemented, there’s no systemic change,” said Solange Bandiaky-Badji, Rights and Resources Initiative’s President.
But securing rights is just one of many important steps needed to transition to a sustainable economy, speakers emphasized.
“The solution to this climate emergency is to transform every segment of society,” said Ko Barrett, Vice-Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). “Whether it’s transport, energy, food production, buildings or manufacturing – all of them must be fundamentally transformed.”
“The good news is that we have many of the solutions that we need. We just need to work for widespread adoption. Importantly, we each have the power to make the change happen.”