Tribes to Biden: Include tribal voices in UN climate conference
White House won't say why tribes haven't been consulted or included in COP27 American delegation.
WASHINGTON — Tribal leaders and U.S. Congress members have been left scratching their heads as to why the Biden White House and U.S. State Department have failed to invite tribal representatives to attend the upcoming United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference (COP27).
“Tribal and Indigenous consultation and participation are necessary for meaningful climate change action and policy,” Larry Wright Jr., executive director of the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), said in a statement. “Tribal Nations and Indigenous communities are not only on the front lines of climate change, but also hold the solutions to heal our earth and climate.”
The global conference, to be held Nov. 7 - 18 in Egypt, serves as an annual world spotlight on pressing climate matters, and tribes have repeatedly requested that the U.S. government include them — only to be ignored time and again.
Indigenous peoples have regularly protested their lack of inclusion in high-level world climate change meetings and decision making.
The Biden administration has heavily promoted its investments in climate mitigation as related to tribes, but it has failed to include tribal voices in COP27 to date, according to tribal advocates — who are again pressing for inclusion.
“The National Congress of American Indians urges the Biden Administration to engage in meaningful dialogue and constructive consultation before, and during, the upcoming 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt — keeping in line with principles of Free, Prior, and Informed Consent, and the fundamental rights established by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples,” said Wright, a citizen of the Ponca Nation.
The White House has not responded to requests for comment, but dozens of tribal nations in the U.S. are indeed frontline communities in dealing with the impacts of climate change.
U.S. Rep. Melanie Stansbury (D-NM), a member of the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee, says the White House needs to improve its consultation with tribes on climate issues.
“Indigenous communities have lived on and managed lands and waters since time immemorial and continue to be at the forefront of combating climate change and protecting these precious lands, waters, and coastlines,” Stansbury wrote in a new letter to the White House. “Indigenous leadership on climate action must be included at the highest levels of global decision making.”
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