The purpose of the summit was to enable Indigenous peoples from all regions of the globe to exchange their knowledge and experience in adapting to the impacts of climate change, and to develop key messages and recommendations for the Conference of Parties (COP) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Copenhagen, Denmark in December 2009.
Indigenous Peoples from all regions of the world depend upon the natural environment. Their rich and detailed traditional knowledge reflects and embodies a cultural and spiritual relationship with the land, ocean and wildlife. However, human activity is changing the world’s climate and altering the natural environment to which Indigenous Peoples are so closely attached and on which they so heavily rely. In a very real sense, therefore, Indigenous Peoples are on the front lines of climate change. They observe climate and environmental changes first-hand and use traditional knowledge and survival skills to adapt to these changes as they occur. Moreover, they must do so at a time when their cultures and livelihoods are already undergoing significant changes due, in part, to the accelerated development of natural resources from their traditional territories stimulated by trade liberalization and globalization.
Reflecting their position as “stewards” of the environment and drawing upon their age-old traditional knowledge—the heart of their cultural resilience — Indigenous Peoples were among the first groups to call upon national governments, transnational corporations and civil society to do more to protect the Earth and human society from climate change.
The Global Summit involved over 400 participants to pursue four key objectives:
Consolidate, share and draw lessons from the views and experiences of Indigenous Peoples around the world on the impacts and effects of climate change on their ways of life and their natural environment, including responses;
Raise the visibility, participation and role of Indigenous Peoples in local, national, regional and international processes in formulating strategies and partnerships that engage local communities and other stakeholders to respond to the impacts of climate change;
Analyze, discuss and promote public awareness of the impacts and consequences of programs and proposals for climate change mitigation and adaptation, and assess proposed “solutions” to climate change from the perspective of Indigenous Peoples; and
Advocate effective strategies and solutions in response to climate change from the
perspective of the cultures, world views, and traditional knowledge of Indigenous
Peoples, including local, national, regional and international rights-based approaches.