Indigenous peoples most affected by climate change, Assembly President says

Participants at the seventh session of Forum on Indigenous Issues

1 May 2008 – Indigenous peoples are “most directly affected by environmental degradation caused by climate change,” and are “the stewards of some of the most precious biologically diverse regions of the world,” the President of the General Assembly said today.

In a statement Srgjan Kerim said he was encouraged that the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, which is currently meeting in New York, has chosen climate change as the special theme of this year’s session.

He added that indigenous issues are inextricably linked to progress toward the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and that there was a “need to draw attention to what has been described as a ‘development emergency’, which is being exacerbated by rising high food and energy prices.”

Mr. Kerim also welcomed the fact that this was the first session of the Forum since the adoption of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in 2007.

He said “the Declaration marks a milestone in the recognition of the rights of indigenous peoples worldwide. More than that, it is an important call for justice and to put an end to social exclusion and marginalization of approximately 370 million people worldwide and to ensure that their identity will be preserved.”

He stressed that “indigenous people are affected in a disproportionate manner by a high level of poverty and extreme poverty as well as the lack of access to health and education services.”

Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, Chairperson of the Permanent Forum, also said today that indigenous peoples were planning to present a report to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), outlining measures being undertaken by indigenous peoples which “will significantly contribute to meeting the objectives of the Climate Change Convention.”

Some 3,300 delegates have gathered in New York for the seventh session of the Permanent Forum, a subsidiary of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), which is wrapping up tomorrow after two weeks.


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