Agatha: rope indigenous people into climate change decisions

Minister of State for Rural Development Agatha Sangma has called for timely interventions and properly implemented policies to protect the lifestyles of several hundred million indigenous people (Scheduled Tribes in India) in Asia-Pacific who are faced with the threat of climate change and extreme rural poverty.

Indigenous people make up six per cent of all humanity on earth and yet, they stand perilously close to the twin threat, she said at an Asia-Pacific regional seminar in Manila on Thursday.

The seminar on ‘Indigenous peoples, Climate Change and Rural Poverty: Promoting Innovative Approaches and Solutions' was organised by the Asian Forum of Parliamentarians on Population and Development.

Pointing out that Asia-Pacific was home to a large population of poor and vulnerable communities, Ms. Sangma saidextreme poverty itself constituted a severe vulnerability. “Climate change and the effects it has had and may have on the natural surroundings of such communities — who live in harmony with nature and rely on it for their existence — make the future of weaker sections look bleak. It is, therefore, imperative that rural poor, especially indigenous people, are made party to the decision-making process and all decisions.”

In India, as per the latest figures, there are about 82 million people who are among themost vulnerable and are known as STs. A Majority of them reside in forested areas and about half of them live below poverty line. They are grouped into 700 tribes. Like in other parts of the world, they are dependent on forest-based natural resources for survival.

Ms. Sangma said the recent global initiatives and measures in the form of REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation Degradation in Developing Countries) were advocated to incentivise efforts for reducing deforestation. “However, it has also been argued that this will provide the developed countries an escape route for avoiding responsibilities of reducing emissions. It will merely compensate developing countries to prevent forests from being converted into pasturelands andhas been described as an attempt to lock indigenous people out of their rights over forest land. It may even deprive local communities of their right to land development and distort local economies.”

On the other hand, REDD might just be the weapon the world had been desperately searching for to combat climate change. “For this, we have advocated that REDD grow into an REDD-plus and also reward efforts for forest conservation and sustainable management of forests.”

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Printable version | Nov 29, 2021 3:10:53 PM |

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