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Spotlight on the conversations connecting Indigenous peoples and climate change.

UN CC:Learn – – has released a new document that explores this topic. Indigenous peoples and climate change From victims to change agents through decent work has been published by the International Labour Office in Geneva.

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This guidance document analyses the situation of indigenous peoples in the context of climate change. It suggests that indigenous peoples are affected in distinctive ways by climate change, and also by the policies or actions that are aimed at addressing it. At the same time, it highlights that, as agents of change, indigenous people are essential to the success of policies and measures directed towards mitigating and adapting to climate change, especially their sustainable economic model and traditional knowledge.

Decent Work Agenda

The growing concern regarding the threats that climate change poses are clearly reflected in the range of recent international commitments aimed at climate change mitigation and adaptation and the attainment of sustainable development. Certain States, such as those that are part of the Climate Vulnerable Forum,1 have repeatedly stressed the need for aggressive and urgent action to address climate change, in order to safeguard the progress made over the past few decades in poverty eradication. In this context, a just transition through inclusive green growth, and the creation of decent work, will be vital for achieving sustainable development and effective climate action. Without the inclusion of indigenous peoples in decision making, however, who have contributed little to climate change but suffer its harmful effects disproportionately, a just transition cannot be realized.

Moreover, without addressing the social, economic and environmental vulnerability of indig- enous peoples, and without incorporating their traditional knowledge, occupations and ways of life into climate action, efforts to achieve sustainable development and effectively tackle threats of climate change will remain incomplete. Indigenous peoples as partners and crucial agents of change have a fundamental role to play in combating climate change, spurring green growth and realizing the Sustainable Development Goals.

The Decent Work Agenda has served as an important framework for the empowerment of indigenous peoples in several countries, and has enabled their meaningful participation in economic, social and political processes. Particularly in the context of climate change, the ILO guidelines for a just transition2 are essential for ensuring climate justice, equity and fairness for all, including indigenous women and men. The ILO standards regarding consultation with and participation of indigenous peoples, and social dialogue more generally, provide the solid base that is necessary for stakeholders at the national level to be able to reach shared assessments and understandings, reconcile positions and policy perspectives that may otherwise appear to be in con ict, and design interventions for development and climate-related objectives. Given its experience and expertise on indigenous peoples’ issues, and its rights-based approach to empowering indigenous women and men, the ILO is in a strong position to support stakeholders in their endeavour to achieve climate change mitigation and adaptation, and in the implementation, monitoring and achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.


  • Is this document translated in other languages?
  • Why is ‘Indigenous’ not capitalized?
  • Is the document available with a Creative Commons license?

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