The Paris Agreement commits governments to climate action. To deliver this agenda successfully, they must engage with all sectors of society, including indigenous peoples, and recognize traditional knowledge.
Many countries have already submitted national climate action plans (Intended Nationally Determined Contributions), and these plans provide a link from the global level down to local action. But if the Paris Agreement is to deliver results, all sectors of society must be engaged in this process.
The legally binding agreement promotes local inclusion in two ways. Firstly, it recognizes the need to involve vulnerable communities and use traditional and local knowledge in adaptation.
Vulnerable communities, whether in urban slums, drylands, mountains or coastal areas lack the resources, power or rights to implement them. Such communities can also play a key role in mitigation because of their low carbon lifestyles and stewardship of forests and other ecosystems.
Secondly, the agreement acknowledges that parties should “respect, promote and consider” the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities and human rights obligations when taking action to address climate change (preamble).
Indigenous peoples are among the most vulnerable to climate change because they depend closely on natural resources. Yet their traditional livelihoods are highly adaptive. Having secure rights to the traditional lands and natural resources needed to sustain traditional livelihoods is, therefore, vital for survival in a changing climate.
The Paris Agreement brings a clear obligation on parties to establish participatory processes that include vulnerable groups and communities, traditional knowledge holders and indigenous peoples.