Indigenous Peoples & Climate Change

Indigenous Peoples Climate Change Assessment (IPCCA)

The Indigenous Peoples Climate Change Assessment (IPCCA) is an international indigenous initiative on climate change, spearheaded by an indigenous-led steering committee and coordinated by the secretariat housed in Asociación ANDES, Peru. It aims to undertake a series of indigenous-led climate change assessments, to empower indigenous peoples to develop and use indigenous frameworks to assess the impact of climate change on their Biocultural systems. Additionally, the IPCCA seeks to facilitate the development and implementation of response options for building indigenous resilience and adaptive strategies to mitigate impacts and enhance biocultural diversity for food sovereignty and self-determined development or “Buen Vivir”.

This important and innovative initiative is founded on a recognition of how climate change has emerged as one of the key issues of our times that highlights concerns about human relations to nature, the responsibility of the privileged to the less privileged, the links from local activities to global conditions, and the obligations of present to future generations. Indigenous peoples living in the most biodiverse and fragile ecosystems of the planet are currently on the front lines of climate change, and are especially vulnerable to the impacts due to both their direct reliance on local, natural systems for their well-being and their disadvantaged socioeconomic standing caused by historical, and often ongoing, political and social processes of discrimination.

Marginalization of indigenous peoples in climate change processes are not the only obstacle to responding to and preventing further climate change; likewise, current understanding of how environmental tipping points work and management responses to large scale change may be too little too late for any substantial preventative action. The unprecedented complexity of climate change and the inability of science to accurately predict the rate and levels of change in the global climatic system require a shift in the focus from global management and mitigation actions to locally driven adaptive strategies that build resilience. Indigenous peoples potentially hold the knowledge and cultural practices to confront climate change based on their experience of managing change locally using their holistic worldview throughout the ages. Their experiences are pivotal to building new approaches that are important for society to learn to manage the unprecedented changes we face.

Acknowledging the importance of indigenous knowledge and practices, the IPCCA promotes indigenous-led assessments of the impacts of climate change on local communities and the development appropriate adaptation and policy response strategies at the local, national and international scales. This pioneering initiative encourages indigenous communities to use their own holistic frameworks and methods throughout all steps of the process, providing viable alternatives to current top down adaptation policies that will build resilience in their biocultural systems and support self-determination.

For more information, please contact Alejandro Argumedo: alejandro@andes.org.pe and visit the Indigenous Peoples Climate Change Assessment website.