Expressing an unmet need: Indigenous plan for funding climate change

Screen Shot 2015-11-30 at 9.54.32 AMIn a room with no name plates, paper table tents with pencil script provided the only identification of the panelists. A small but
engaged audience listened attentively and participated fully when the option of question and comment commenced. This side event at the UN COP21 focused on the rationale for the construction of the Indigenous Amazonian Fund.

In a seventy-five minute session, representatives of indigenous groups along with the leadership of Coordinadra de las Organizaciones Indigenas de la Cuence Amazonica (COICA) provided a clear message of why an Indigenous Amazonian Fund was needed. The topic and the panelists’ commentary resonated with the audience. The meeting in a venue noted for punctuality, ran over time and ended with a lining up of audience members to speak with Jorge Furagaro, COICA’s Head of Environment, Climate Change and Biodiversity.IMG_0021

Furagaro noted in his commentary, “Our people do not understand English, Spanish and French. They are not able to negotiate with authorities. Funds that are provided to assist the indigenous go to consultants but do not trickle down to the people on the ground in the communities.” He went on to state, “We need funds for more than capacity building and studies; this type of funding stays limited to the hotel and restaurants where people are gathering for review and assessment. Funding should go to the territories.”

The proposed Indigenous Amazonian Fund (FIA) would ensure that funding would go directly to meet the needs of the the indigenous inhabitants of the Amazon. These people are presently strained by the adverse impacts of both man-made ecosystem degradation and climate change. The fund as designed has included the elements that COICA, other indigenous groups and stakeholders have found to be missing from present funding mechanisms, such as the Green Climate Fund (GCF). The fund incorporates a guiding principle, which includes effectiveness and efficiency, autonomy, surveillence and transparency, participation and governance elements in its operational framework.

Furagaro provided that the design of the FIA, the overt inclusion of stakeholder engagement and transparency, facilitates the intention of the fund, whereas other funding mechabisms only appear to do so.

The Sun has Set on Copenhagen and the COP-15

Actually, the sun set here in Copenhagen several hours ago, but it seems to have also set for the COP.  A new accord appears to have been reached this evening, but it falls short of most expectations.  This morning, President Obama flew in to deliver a disappointing speech in front of the UN and then ducked through a closed-door to spend the rest of the afternoon in private talks with a handful of world leaders.  Shortly after, accusations flew from other countries that these secret talks violated the democratic process necessary for the UN to function.

After a long day of waiting on the edge of our seats, Obama held another brief press conference to say that his meetings had been “successful.”  However, he had little substantive points to offer.  Needless to say, our team feels let down that Copenhagen failed to be the shining moment in history when the world united to focus on our common future.  Most of us leave here tomorrow feeling disappointed and exhausted, but we have a renewed sense of commitment to gain ground on the domestic front.

Even if the United States was unable to be the leader during these talks, the long road ahead of us is clear.   We hope that our readers have enjoyed our thoughts and observations during our time at the COP-15.  Even in disappointment, we each feel privileged to have been here to witness this historical process.

Thoughts on expectations

A reporter from the Rutland Herald called me yesterday to talk about the conference.  He didn’t have any specific questions for me at first but rather just wanted me to talk.  I started with a basic breakdown of what the conference was about, who would be there, what would be going on daily and other generic, overview-type information.  After rambling for a bit, he asked me a few simple questions and then concluded by asking, is there anything we haven’t covered that you would like to tell people?  Ah, little did he know that he opened a can of worms on that one!   Continue reading

11 Days and Counting …

It’s hard to believe the climate conference is about to begin. For the past several months, we’ve been studying the issues, making our travel plans, coordinating with colleagues, and making connections with other like-minded groups and individuals. Indeed, the email traffic has been fast and furious, with articles, reports, commentaries, predictions, and speculations flying about like mad. Who knows what our world leaders will do? They could dazzle us with their brilliant negotiating skills or disappoint us with their flimsy proposals. Either way, this event has already put a fire in the belly of huge numbers of people, and it has cemented bonds between members of a global community fiercely devoted to moving the ball forward on climate change. More than anything else, this is what gives me hope that we will actually respond to this crisis in time to stave off the unthinkable. World leaders and negotiating teams, the ball is in your court, but the rest of us will be watching!