Indigenous Peoples and Climate Change: from victims to change agents through decent work

Organization(s): ILO
Author: Marek Harsdorff, Martin Oelz, Rishabh Kumar Dhir
Year: 2017
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The present report analyses the situation of indigenous peoples in the context of climate change. It suggests that indigenous peoples are affected in distinctive ways by climate change, and also by the policies or actions that are aimed at addressing it. At the same time, it highlights that, as agents of change, indigenous peoples are essential to the success of policies and measures directed towards mitigating and adapting to climate change, and to just transition policies as workers. On the one hand, given the scale and scope of the threats that they face with regard to climate change – including specific threats to their livelihoods, cultures and ways of life – their situation is different from that of other groups and from that of the poor. On the other hand, indigenous peoples, with their traditional knowledge and occupations, have a unique role to play in climate action, cutting across both climate mitigation and adaptation efforts, and also just transition policies.

Consequently, in order for climate action to be successful, indigenous peoples must be seen as powerful agents of change, accorded access to decent work opportunities and the ability to participate in the development, implementation and evaluation of sustainable policies and measures aimed at combating climate change. Simultaneously, it is also essential that the factors which make indigenous peoples uniquely vulnerable to climate change be addressed in a distinct and targeted manner.

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