Indigenous peoples and local communities are often on the frontlines of global environmental change – including climate change – due to their close interdependence with their territories and areas. They may face more severe impacts if they live in vulnerable ecosystems such as small islands, deltas, high altitude mountains, deserts and the Arctic. However, indigenous peoples and local communities have long managed variability, uncertainty and change through many generations of interaction with the environment. Indigenous and local knowledge systems and customary protocols can play a significant role in monitoring, preparing for and responding to climate change and extreme weather events, including in new situations such as climate-induced migration.

Indigenous peoples and local communities must be involved in decisions that affect them in the context of climate change mitigation and adaptation, disaster risk reduction and ecosystem restoration. Their rights, including to provide or withhold free, prior and informed consent, must be fully recognised and respected in relevant laws, policies, programmes and financing mechanisms, including those that could have perverse negative effects on ICCAs and their custodians.

At the international level, ICCA Consortium Members have been actively involved in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), promoting the contributions of indigenous and traditional knowledge (particularly in the African region), and conducting critical analyses of land use change, climate finance schemes (such as the Green Climate Fund) and market- and results-based payment mechanisms. ICCA Consortium Members are also involved in work on climate change and ecosystem restoration under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). In particular, Parties to the CBD recognise the role of ICCAs in strengthening ecosystem connectivity and resilience, maintaining essential ecosystem services and supporting biodiversity-based livelihoods (CBD Decision X/33, para 8(i)). Parties called for support for ICCAs and respect for indigenous peoples’ and communities’ traditional customary knowledge and practices when planning and implementing ecosystem restoration activities (CBD Decision XIII/5, Annex, para 15(1)). ICCAs are also recognised in CBD Technical Series No. 85 on “Experiences with Ecosystem-Based Approaches to Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Reduction”. As ICCAs often encompass more than one ecosystem, they can be seen as “territory-based” (rather than “ecosystem-based”) approaches to climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction.

Key International Instruments, Mechanisms and Reports
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Key Resources on ICCAs
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Earth Vikalp Sangam: Proposal for a Global Tapestry of Alternatives

“Globally, there is a visible counter-trend to the destructive process of ‘development’ that the forces of capitalism, statism, and patriarchy have imposed”. In this article, Ashish Kothari (Member of the ICCA Consortium Council of Elders) introduces a new global initiative, attempting to weave together the various movements seeking alternatives to mainstream development.  Read more ▸