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GLF clamours end to persecution of Indigenous peoples, environmental rights defenders

The international community has been called upon to urgently act to stop the growing threats of violence and criminalisation of Indigenous peoples and environmental rights defenders.

Sengwer indigenous people  GLF clamours end to persecution of Indigenous peoples, environmental rights defenders Sengwer peoples
Indigenous people from the Sengwer community in western Kenya. Photo credit: REUTERS/Katy Migiro

The call was made at the Global Landscapes Forum (GLF) conference that came to a close on Sunday, June 23, 2019 in Bonn, Germany. The two-day event held under the shadow of increasing threats to Indigenous livelihoods from the variability of climate change and the encroachment of extraction activities on their landscapes.

For 48 hours, delegates came together in-person and digitally, to discuss what is regarded as one of the most important issues for tackling climate change: rights. Over 700 people from 150 countries gathered, joined by a global online audience of 14,000. The messages were said to have spread even farther, reaching over 14 million people on social media.

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Participants further resolved that, besides moving quickly and together to secure the rights to a healthy life for present and future generations, gender equity should be placed at the core of rights-based approaches to sustainable landscapes management and governance.

The GLF underscored the need to integrate and mainstream traditional knowledge and practices in sustainable landscape management, stressing that ecosystem restoration, as a nature-based solution, is vital in combating the climate crisis and to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“Some 350 million Indigenous peoples and communities occupy and care for lands that encompass 80 percent of the world’s biodiversity. We know that when communities and Indigenous peoples have secure rights, landscapes thrive, store more carbon and preserve biodiversity,” stated the GLF, describing the Bonn meeting the beginning and not the end of the rights conversation.

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“By the end of 2019, the Indigenous Peoples Major Group for Sustainable Development (IPMG) and the Rights and Resources Initiative aim to establish a gold standard on rights – the first of its kind – shaped through consultations at upcoming GLF conferences with the thoughts and knowledge of Indigenous peoples, organisations and the many other voices of the GLF’s ever-growing global community.

“The next GLF takes place in New York City on September 28, where we will frame the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration – while keeping rights firmly in mind,” the GLF added.


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