UNDP and GEF-Small Grants Programme Supports National Dialogue of Indigenous Representatives and the Government of Guyana on Climate Change Priorities for COP 21 negotiations

Sep 29, 2015

Participants at the National Dialogue of Indigenous Representatives and the Government of Guyana on Climate Change Priorities for COP 21 negotiations

Approximately fifty (50) indigenous leaders representing various organisations, the National Toshao Council and communities from the ten (10) Administrative Regions in Guyana gathered at the Sophia Exhibition Complex on Tuesday, September 22, 2015 as part of the national dialogues to support indigenous engagement in COP 21 scheduled for December 2015 in Paris.

UNDP Guyana and the GEF Small Grants Programme (GEF SGP) supported the dialogue with the aim of contributing towards a stronger, more effective and more equitable climate outcome at COP 21 by ensuring that the views and priorities of indigenous peoples are embedded in the climate agreement to be reached in Paris.

The annual Conference of Parties (COP) provides an opportunity to review the implementation of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The dialogue therefore provided indigenous peoples with the opportunity to converse with government representatives, share their concerns and priorities around climate change and the COP 21 negotiations, and identified common ground on key issues of relevance to them.

UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative, Ms. Khadija Musa, in her remarks at the event posited that climate change is a complex problem, which, although environmental in nature, has consequences for all spheres of existence on our planet. “It either impacts on or is impacted by global issues, including poverty, economic development, population growth, sustainable development and resource management.”

In justifying UNDP / GEF-SGP rational for supporting the event, Ms. Musa explained that climate change impacts indigenous peoples directly and disproportionately, and thus facilitating their participation in global decision-making processes such as COP 21 is key.

Vice President and Minister of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, Hon. Sydney Allicock M.P., in his remarks, said the consultation is “a fantastic opportunity to make our case to the world on matters which not only affect our lives but people all over the world.”

The Minister emphasized that climate change is real and its effects are profound and in some cases devastating. He explained that climate change affects food supply, energy needs, clean water, health, families and culture. “In short, it touches our very existence.”

He called on people, governments and nations to fight a good fight as it is essential to save our planet.

Minister Allicock concluded his presentation quoting the UN Secretary General, “Saving our planet, lifting people out of poverty, advancing economic growth. These are one and the same fight.” He posited that “we must connect the dots between climate change, water scarcity, energy shortages, global health, food security and women’s empowerment and challenged the participants to place on the ‘table’ deep convictions on the subject as they know it, live it and understand it from their generations past.

Mr. Andrew Bishop, Guyana’s lead negotiator to the UNFCCC provided an overview of the UNFCCC discussions in the lead up to COP 21 and Guyana’s intended Nationally Determined Contribution (iNDC). This paved the way for presentations from Indigenous groups on issues and priorities and the subsequent dialogue.

This engagement was successful in ensuring that the priorities and perspectives of indigenous peoples were discussed, raise awareness among government representatives of the impact climate change is having on indigenous peoples and the contributions these same communities are making to climate change mitigation and adaptation. It is hoped that this dialogue also contributed towards strengthened relationships and fostering trust and understanding between the indigenous peoples representatives and Government.

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