World Bank Affirms Support to Indigenous Peoples in Designing Climate Change Responses

President says Indigenous People possess valuable experience and knowledge

to be shared

World Bank Group President Robert B. Zoellick opened a roundtable

discussion on Indigenous Peoples and Climate Change by saying that

Indigenous Peoples carry a “disproportionate share of the burden of climate

change effects.” Two weeks before the opening of a major United Nations

conference on climate change in Copenhagen, Zoellick went on to stress the

importance of including those most affected by climate change in climate change


Zoellick was speaking at the

roundtable organized by the World Bank and First Peoples Worldwide, held at

World Bank headquarters in Washington.

The event brought together Indigenous Peoples Representatives from around the

world as well as other non-governmental organizations, the private sector, and

bilateral and international organizations to exchange ideas, forge

partnerships, and create synergies to map the way forward for an Indigenous

Peoples Climate Action Fund (IPCAF).

In his remarks, Zoellick said that “climate

change exacerbates the difficulties that indigenous communities already face –

including loss of land and resources, lower human development indicators,

discrimination, unemployment, and economic and political marginalization.”

Indigenous communities, with their “long

experience in managing natural resources, and adapting to climate change,”

he added, “can also add to our knowledge and understanding of how best to

cope with this complex challenge … learning from Indigenous Peoples will make

our discussions richer and our actions more productive.”

The Bank Group President cited

several examples of how, in different parts of the world, the knowledge and

experience of Indigenous Peoples is helping them to cope with some of the

already inevitable impacts of climate change. In parts of Africa,

he said, Indigenous Peoples have long made use of the dry land conditions – by

growing Red bush tea, for instance. Women plant crops that are more resistant

to droughts and pests, providing a reserve for extended periods of economic

hardship. They preserve seeds that will ensure resistance to a range of

conditions that may arise in a particular season or year.

In the Marshall Islands, Indigenous

Peoples have found ways to use blocks of coral to protect fresh water supplies

from salt water contamination. In Vietnam, indigenous communities

plant dense mangroves along the shores to protect the coastline – the mangroves

diffuse incoming waves during tropical storms. And in Australia,

Aboriginal communities are using traditional controlled burning to keep the

undergrowth under control, helping to prevent giant fires that devastate entire

landscapes and release massive amounts of carbon into the atmosphere.

The World Bank’s Social Development

Department assisted First Peoples Worldwide in designing the Indigenous Peoples

Climate Action Fund (IPCAF). This innovative initiative aims to provide direct

financing to selected indigenous communities around the world. The Fund will be

used for several purposes:

· to document Indigenous Peoples’ responses to climate change;

· to

integrate local indigenous knowledge on climate change adaptation and

mitigation into project designs and implementation and finally; and

· to

strengthen the capacity of Indigenous Peoples’ communities to influence

decision-making and to engage in dialogue on climate change at the national and

international level.

The Fund will be managed and implemented by First Peoples Worldwide – which has

extensive experience in developing financial mechanisms to reach Indigenous

Peoples – with the Bank playing an advisory role.

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