On 30th of October 2016, 32 indigenous women from eight countries1 in Asia gathered in Yangon, Myanmar for Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP)’s 3rd Regional Exchange Visit. Over the four-day event, the participants shared experiences; best practices and lessons learned on the impacts of climate change in their communities, such as creating conservation zones in watershed areas and surrounding forests and adjusting cultivation calendars to adapt with irregular weather patterns. Below is the summary and recommendations.
Despite our diversity, we, indigenous women across Asia are experiencing common challenges: irregular and unreliable weather patterns are leading to food insecurity and loss of livelihoods; natural disasters including uncontrollable forest fires, severe and ongoing drought and deadly typhoons; loss of livelihood, leading to increased and unsafe migration and human trafficking, the degradation of communities and culture alongside conflict over resources; and the increase of chemical consumption and the consequential health problems which were previously nonexistent. Furthermore, the traditional knowledge that has underpinned the health and wellbeing of our indigenous communities, which has been preserved and transferred by indigenous women, is threatened.
Indigenous women are not only victims of climate change. Through our centuries of our interaction and interdependent relationship with our natural environment, we are holders of invaluable traditional knowledge that has ensured the health and wellbeing of our communities and are critical to the future and wellbeing of the planet. Likewise, our traditional occupations and skills such as preservation of seeds and knowledge transference to younger generations, indigenous women are enhancing the conservation of agro-biodiversity within their territories. Likewise, we are the holders of knowledge on non-timber forest products, including plants, animals and insects for the treatment of illnesses and food for their families2.
Indigenous women in Asia play a vital role in the conservation and sustainable use of biological resources. However, climate change is threatening our ways of life, traditions and cultures, our spiritual identity and our collective survival. We are at the forefront of climate change-induced catastrophes, disasters and slow-onset damages that threaten their very survival. The impacts of climate change are undoubtedly more severe for indigenous women, although this is too-often not recognized or documented, despite our significant role in natural resource management.
In the context of the Conference of Parties of the UNFCCC in Marrakech (COP22) for Actions in the implementation of the Paris Agreement, Asia Indigenous Women supports the recommendations by International Indigenous Peoples Forum on Climate Change (IIPFCC) to the UNFCCC parties. In addition, Asia Indigenous Women are presenting the following key recommendations to climate change policy makers:
1. Recognize and protect the collective rights of Indigenous Peoples, including indigenous women to their lands, territories and resources, including their traditional occupations and livelihoods, sustainable resource managements systems and practices in line with the human rights obligations and commitments of States
2. Ensure the respect, recognition and protection of the rights of Indigenous Peoples and indigenous women, in all climate change actions at the local, national, regional and international levels, including those related to energy production.
3. Establish specific mechanisms for the effective participation of indigenous women in monitoring, data collection, evaluation and reporting on climate change actions and interventions by state and other actors, including in documentation activities on biodiversity in areas of Indigenous Peoples lands and territories.
4. Ensure provisions for capacity building, sufficient financial and appropriate technical support to protect and enhance the contributions of indigenous women in climate change mitigation and adaptation.
5. Ensure that all adaptation plans and actions are responsive to the specific needs indigenous peoples in general, and indigenous women, youth and persons with disabilities in particular, taking into account their cultural heritage, traditional knowledge, livelihoods and sustainable resource management practices.
6. Protect, promote and enhance the traditional knowledge, customary laws and practices on the sustainable management of natural resources by indigenous women, and Indigenous Peoples in general, alongside the recognition and protection of their right to their lands, territories and resources.
7. All financing for climate adaptation, mitigation and loss and damage shall be responsive to the specific needs, condition and aspirations of indigenous women particularly those at the grassroots level, which vary from culture to culture, and thus, require specific considerations, whilst ensuring accountability, transparency and anti-corruption at all levels.
8. Prioritize support for Indigenous Peoples initiatives for community-based adaptation including direct support to indigenous women to enhance their traditional knowledge, innovations, skills and livelihoods within their communities.
9. Ensure an overarching human rights approach to all climate change actions in the implementation of the Paris Agreement and respect, protect, promote and fulfill the rights of indigenous women, as provided in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), The Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and ILO Convention No. 169, among others.
Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP)
November 8, 2016
1 Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos PDR, Myanmar, Mainland India, Northeast India and Nepal
2 For more information: Shifting Cultivation, Livelihood and Food Security: New and Old Challenges for Indigenous Peoples in Asia (AIPP and IWGIA)