Presidency Dialogue on the LCIP Platform
As mentioned in my previous posts, one of the main issues I’m following here at COP24 are the discussions around the Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples (LCIP) Platform. Established under in 2015 Paris Agreement, the LCIP Platform is aimed at facilitating the exchange of knowledge and establishing best practices in addressing climate change. The following is an ethnographic snapshot from Wednesday evening’s Presidency Dialogue on the LCIP Platform.
The country delegates sit behind their name placards, with indigenous delegations in the rows of seats behind them. Observers throughout the room put their headsets on, expecting that there will be some English-Spanish translation. There is none. No interpreters have been provided. I stifle my irritation and offer to attempt to translate to a small group of Bolivians sitting near me, before, Luis, a former colleague from my NGO days comes to our rescue. He sits behind the Bolivians, whispering translations.
Poland welcomes everyone and invites Chief Orenrekowah Howard Thompson to begin. Chief Thompson provides a thanksgiving address, thanking the earth, the creator, the plant life and their roots, the water, the fish in the water, the three sisters, the animals, the trees, and the sky above our heads. He nods toward each of the cardinal directions, thanking the four winds and then the thunders. Pausing he pays homage to the Sky world: the two suns and grandmother moon, who breathes life into the world. Finally, he looks up and thanks the stars.
“This session is now open, and we are all of right mind.”
Poland representative urges the group to continue their urgent work, to collaborate and finalize deliberations regarding the LCIPP by Friday, so that country delegations can confer a final decision on Saturday. He then calls upon interested countries to speak one by one. First New Zeeland, then Ecuador, Bolivia, Mexico, and Canada. It’s a well-rehearsed diplomatic performance. Each country’s statement is civil, filled with deference and lots of thanks. These countries are followed by Australia, the EU, and Norway. And finally, the president calls upon the Philippines.
“Yá’át’ééh.” she greets the constituency in Navajo.
“I’m actually not the Philippines,” she states. “I needed a placard to get your attention, so I could speak. This is supposed to be a dialogue between the states and indigenous peoples.”
She speaks of returning to the realities of home after the conference, the hardships, the murders, the food insecurity, the pollution of their water, the loss of lands and jobs.
“Yes, we’ve done a great job and wonderful job on SDGs, on this platform, but there is a large disconnect. We must be consistent by incorporating a rights-based framework in all activities carried out under the Paris Agreement.”
She continues, “As you’ve seen tonight, indigenous peoples don’t bring redlines to these negotiations, we bring our hearts. We are invested in solutions, and we have the right to participate in all levels of decision making... what we really need is true equality.”
The room erupts in applause. Finally, someone has said what others haven’t dared.