A story of stars: The rights of Lumad and the Paris Agreement

How to do it

By including a provision on human rights protection, the Paris Agreement provides a holistic approach to addressing climate change. It changes the narrative of battling climate change from being mitigation-centric to putting the welfare of people at the core of it all.

There are opportunities to further explore how this could be done in succeeding climate change talks. Currently, it is only under REDD+ or reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation where specific mechanisms for human rights protection, particularly those of the IP, are spelled out.

REDD+ incentivizes developing countries that enhance carbon stocks through sustainable forest management. The REDD+ safeguards require that before REDD+ activities can be conducted, however, the free, prior and informed consent of indigenous peoples must first be secured. Countries will not be able to receive results-based payments if this condition is not met or complied with.

While international guidance on human rights protection under a new climate deal is something that could still expanded and strengthened, locally, De Guzman said that there are already existing means where the voice of indigenous peoples can be considered by those in power.

For one, the Indigenous Development Plan of IPDP must be considered when doing the Annual Investment Plan of local government units. The IPDP contains the indigenous practices for farming, forest protection, and resource utilization that – if supported and integrated into the AIP – could be helpful to the whole LGU.

“We’re lobbying for participatory governance,” De Guzman said. “People should participate in governance and not just be consulted.”

This is a right enshrined in our local laws, respected by an international climate agreement, and one that can be understood better if we allow indigenous peoples to tell the story of stars – and actually listen to them. Rappler.com

The author is a former reporter of Rappler. In 2013, she started working as a communications specialist under the environmental cluster of the Ateneo School of Government. Since then she has participated in the UN climate change negotiations as an adviser and eventually a member of the Philippine delegation.