Inuit recommendations to COP28 | Polarjournal
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) 28th Conference of Parties opened in Dubai on November 30. Heads of state, politicians, scientists, climate experts, business representatives and lobbyists came together to discuss action to be taken against global warming, the consequences of which are becoming increasingly visible. Image: COP28

The Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC) sent COP28 a position paper with five recommendations. The main requests are that Inuit knowledge and skills be taken into account, that Indigenous populations be put at the heart of decision-making and that urgent action be taken to limit global warming.

Recognition of the distinct status of the Inuit. Inclusion of Inuit and their knowledge in research on their territory. Respect for the right to self-determination. Access to fair climate financing. Recognition of the link between climate change and other environmental threats. In essence, these are the five recommendations made by ICC Canada in a position paper for COP28, published by the Council on November 24. A position paper in which ICC urges “[…] global leaders to commit to meaningful action that reflects our shared respect for the environment and secures the health of our planet for future generations.”

With recommendations based on commitments set out in the Inuit Circumpolar Council 2022 Ilulissat Declaration and the Statement of the Arctic Peoples’ Conference 2023, the aim of this text is to “highlight Inuit concerns and calls to action to international leaders, the science community, private industry and others.” This is the message of a press release published on the ICC website on November 27, which places particular emphasis on the need to take Inuit knowledge and skills into account, especially in research. While putting at the same time, Inuit and Indigenous circumpolar populations at the heart of discussions and decision-making. “The position paper points to how Indigenous Knowledge and Indigenous-led adaptation and mitigation strategies and management practices are critical to addressing the challenges and changes occurring in the Arctic. Our inherent right of self-determination needs to be respected as the world begins to transition to a more sustainable future. Our call for action to the international community is urgent.”

The Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC) is currently represented in Dubai by a delegation led by ICC International Chair Sara Olsvig and ICC International Vice-President and ICC Canada Chair, Lisa Qiluqqi Koperqualuk. The delegation also includes indigenous knowledge holders, young people and experts from all over Inuit Nunaat. Images (left to right): Wilson Center and ICC.

One of the ICC’s recommendations concerns the inclusion Indigenous peoples of the northern hemisphere in the Loss and Damage Fund. The latter was created at COP27, held last year in Egypt. To date, over $400 million has been pledged by various nations to finance the project.

In concrete terms, the aim of this fund is to help the poorest countries cope with the impacts of global warming. However, it should mainly concern the countries of the South: “[…] as it is structured now, Inuit and other Arctic Indigenous Peoples will not have access to the fund, although we are among those most impacted by climate change,” mentioned Sara Olsvig last Thursday in the newspaper Alaska Beacon.

Depending on the region, the Arctic is warming two to four times faster than the rest of the planet. In addition to the loss of sea ice, which is shrinking rapidly, and the dramatic retreat of glaciers, permafrost is also suffering the consequences of climate change. As the soil melts, it becomes unstable and collapses, leading to the destabilization and destruction of infrastructures and houses built on this type of soil.

In addition, there are more extreme weather events, drought, forest fires, floods, landslides and ocean warming. Not to mention the impact on animal and plant species, and therefore on the food security of the people living in these regions.

Global warming is having a major impact in the Arctic, as seen here in Shishmaref, an Alaskan village which permafrost is melting. Yet while Indigenous communities are particularly affected, it’s not always easy for them to make their voices heard at major international gatherings such as COP28. Image: Shishmaref Erosion and Relocation Commission.

Faced with these upheavals, action is urgently needed. “For decades, we have witnessed the direct impacts of a changing climate in our homeland and have consistently advocated for a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions to prevent these changes from becoming a global norm.”, states the ICC position paper. “Our call for action to the international community is urgent and we call on Parties to pivot towards immediate and substantial climate action that recognizes our rights, incorporates our free, prior, and informed consent, and acknowledges our inherently sustainable relationship with the land, water, and ice and our traditional food resources. These are not only resources, but are also central to our culture and worldview.”

ICC’s five recommendations

Recommendation 1: Recognize that Inuit and other Indigenous Peoples hold a distinct status, and that all climate change work must be based on a strong human rights foundation including the human rights affirmed through the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples;

Recommendation 2: Ensure that all research and decision-making that impacts Inuit and Inuit Nunaat, our homeland, includes the equitable and ethical engagement of Inuit and the utilization of Indigenous Knowledge;

Recommendation 3: Actions to combat climate change must not infringe on our distinct rights, including our inherent right of self-determination, as Indigenous Peoples;

Recommendation 4: Create direct pathways for Indigenous Peoples to access equitable climate finance, including the Loss and Damage Fund, and other adaptation and mitigation related funding;

Recommendation 5: Governments must recognize the link between climate change and other environmental threats and support the advocacy and positions of Indigenous Peoples in other global processes.

Link to the ICC position paper: https: //www.inuitcircumpolar.com/news/on-thin-ice-inuit-climate-leadership-for-the-world-unfccc-cop-28-position-paper/

Mirjana Binggeli, PolarJournal

Illustration: Inuit Circumpolar Council logo

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