Indigenous network supports Cochabamba Agreement

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Statement by Tom Goldtooth of the the Indigenous Environmental Network, supporting Bolivia’s submission of the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth to the UN

My name is Tom B.K. Goldtooth, Executive Director of the Indigenous Environmental Network. Our Indigenous network represents indigenous communities throughout the world experiencing the affects of climate change. The Indigenous Environmental Network is based in Minnesota, USA.

I am here at United Nations headquarters as part of an international delegation of civil society and social movements invited by President Evo Morales Ayma of the Plurinational State of Bolivia to lift up the importance of the Peoples’ Agreement and the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth, that are outcomes of the People’s Global Summit on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth.

Indigenous peoples from throughout the Americas and throughout the world participated in the Global Summit. Indigenous peoples stood together with the social movement of the world acknowledging that Mother Earth is the source of all life. World leaders and parties to the UN climate negotiations must reevaluate what their relationship is the sacredness of Mother Earth. The draft Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth developed in Cochabamba is an international framework to ensure mechanisms for the recognition of human rights, the rights of those that cannot speak for themselves and of our Mother Earth.

As representatives of social movements and civil society of the world – we are asking for meaningful and effective participation of civil society and social movements in Cancun and all UN climate change negotiations. The Copenhagen UN climate meeting did not allow this to happen. We are a movement of millions of people throughout the world demanding transparency, inclusion and to have a voice in UN climate negotiations that will create climate policy that directly affects the future of our communities and the world.

One of the key points of the Cochabamba Peoples’ Agreement was the rejection of carbon market mechanisms within climate agreements and negotiations such as the controversial REDD initiative (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) and REDD+ that want to use forests as a commodity to be traded in a carbon offset regime, as well as Clean Development Mechanism projects.

Indigenous people the world over are suffering from human rights abuses from carbon trading and carbon offsets. Indigenous peoples’ cosmovision and our worldview are concerned of a world that privatizes the air, water and commodifies the sacredness of Mother Earth. We must de-colonize the atmosphere.

The Copenhagen Accord was a high-stakes deal-maker and was really a Copenhagen Steal that did not recognize, nor had any language ensuring the rights of Indigenous Peoples. This will lead to further human rights violations, climate destruction, lost of land and disruption of the livelihood and well-being of indigenous communities from the arctic to the global south.

As Indigenous Peoples, we are the guardians of Mother Earth, and must make principled stands for the global well-being of all people and all life. The adoption of the Cochabamba Peoples’ Agreement and the Universal Declaration on the Rights of Mother Earth is extremely necessary, if we are to survive this climate crisis that will be getting worst in decades to come.