Exclusive Interview with Ms. Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim
“INDIGENOUS PEOPLES PROTECT 80% OF THE WORLD’S BIODIVERSITY BY THEIR TRADITIONAL KNOWLEDGE”: HOW TO INCLUDE THEM IN THE NDCs DEBATE?
We held an exclusive interview with Ms Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, Member of the Facilitative Working Group of the Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Platform (LCIPP) under UNFCCC. under the UNFCCC. She is part of the Mbororo Peul community in Chad who actively participates in some of the most important international fora, such as the United Nations Security Council and in the preparation of the COP26. According to her, it is vital to include the voice of indigenous communities in the discussion on the National Adaptation Plans but also to climate policies, including the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). 80% of the world’s biodiversity is protected by the traditional knowledge of indigenous communities; they are also the most vulnerable and most exposed to climate change.
Question: “How will issues related to indigenous peoples’ traditional knowledge be taken into account in the context of the NDCs review”?
With the decision on the Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Platform, which emanates from Paragraph 135 of the Paris Agreement decision, a 3-year action plan has already been established. Within these activities, there is Activity 9, which consists of seeing how to revise climate change policies by taking into account the Traditional Knowledge of Indigenous Peoples. I am leading this activity with one of my colleagues. As a result, we are currently revising some 500 UN texts, which is quite considerable. This relates to, for example, climate change Adaptation Plans (NAPs), Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), National Communications (NCs) of all the countries, etc.
On one hand, through very direct surveys, we look at where we are aligned and where we are not and how to develop a better strategy to make recommendations on the integration of Traditional Knowledge of Indigenous Peoples in all climate policies and in the revision of NDCs. This is at the UN level and is under the responsibility of the Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Platform.
On the other hand, personally with my organisation Peul Mbororo Indigenous Women and Peoples Association of Chad (AFPAT) and my regional network, Indigenous Peoples African Coordinating Committee (IPACC) we started promoting these actions two years ago. We started in Burkina Faso, with the organisation of a workshop bringing together the indigenous peoples themselves to collect information and hold discussion around their knowledge. Then we set up an intergovernmental workshop with all the responsible ministries, focal points, researchers and scientists and the peoples involved, to tell them how to integrate traditional knowledge into their national adaptation plans and NDCs, for example in agriculture or fishery in a given region or community. For us, it is not the monitoring of traditional knowledge per se that matters, it is human rights as a whole. We cannot take the positive parts of indigenous knowledge and reject the negative parts. In all the NDCs that we reviewed, only 19 countries mentioned the importance of indigenous peoples. This is one of the reasons for raising awareness and showing states how to better consider this issue. Our objective is therefore to schedule workshops in several countries and then to conclude with a regional forum for all the countries that have benefited from this process of integrating traditional knowledge. The idea is to generalize the process of integrating indigenous peoples knowledge at the national or regional level in order to achieve a direct and more global impact in the process on NDCs.
Question: What actions are you taking to ensure that the COP also considers issues related to indigenous peoples’ traditional knowledge more comprehensively?
All countries and their focal points made presentations and noted the great interest in these issues. So it is up to them to bring these into the negotiations. But there will also be a negotiation on the Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Platform in a 3-day facilitative working group meeting. One of the themes of this workshop will be to see if the NDCs respect or integrate indigenous knowledge well and, above all, how to go far beyond that to make these communities more vocal. Furthermore, there are informal discussions with the COP26 Presidency to strengthen the integration of Indigenous peoples Knowledge in the context of its consultation with civil society and observer groups. This is a discussion we have had with all the previous COP Presidencies before the Paris Agreement. And we will follow, as traditionally, the dialogues between States and these same indigenous peoples, both to represent them and to ensure the continuity of the consideration of their knowledge.
(Photo: Jakob Polacsek/World Economic Forum, Creative Commons via Flickr)
Question: You are certainly one of the best people to talk about this: How can we better encourage the international community to consider indigenous knowledge issues and, in particular, gender issues in the revisions of their NDCs?
For me, whether it’s traditional knowledge, knowledge of indigenous peoples or gender, it’s not a question of having quotas. I don’t think we should even talk about them: including them in the climate negotiations should be automatic. On the gender issue in particular, women still make up half of the world’s population, or even more. It is therefore not a question of making room for this half or not. Naturally, women must participate in this decision-making process and in all implementing measures. Otherwise, we enter into a “checking-box” logic. We must consider that climate change has a much greater impact on women. This is true in communities, in rural areas where the importance of life is based on rain, drought, floods, etc. She is the one who is forced to be on the front line, to look for solutions to feed her children, to feed herself, by looking after the crops… She is therefore innovative on these issues. Even if these are not internationally recognised solutions, for us it is very important because she acts as a pioneer for her family. So why not consider her in NDCs and in all climate planning? Women are experts on many issues, not only on women’s issues. They are not just there to participate in meetings to point out that “on this particular point, you have forgotten about women!”. They need to be there to discuss the whole range of issues that concern them as well. One way to do this is to create equity in the teams of negotiators, focal points and delegate participation. For instance, all negotiations have less than 30% women participation. Equity is also important when implementing projects at the local level. We tend to say that if we do 10 projects, at least we will take three women’s projects and the seven others from men. I don’t think this is an equity.
In my organisation, which is called the Association of Peul Women and Indigenous Peoples of Chad, I put Peul women before and Peoples after. Why is that? Because when I have workshops on projects such as agroecology for women, my first activity is to do a general workshop that takes up 20% of the time for all communities, men, women, young people, the elderly, especially on climate change. First we all discuss together. The remaining 80% of the time is devoted to women and the activities they want to implement, but in the end, these activities benefit more than 100% to men.
Question: The Intra-ACP GCCA+ Programme has developed an online tool, the NDC platform, which addresses, in particular, the participatory aspects in an optional way in order to include all civil society actors. What do you think about it?
I give you my most sincere answer, this tool is useful, but my conviction is that we must clearly ensure that NDCs integrate these points as a mandatory. If we always stay with voluntary or optional proposals or pilot projects, it never moves forward in reality. We can see that we are already at +1.5° C, in other words, we are already on the threshold of the Paris Agreement objectives. In this context, if we do not include indigenous peoples’ knowledge, it will be even more difficult to reach this objective. So if we want to speed things up, we have to make these issues mandatory to all NDCs.
Question: Are you hopeful that progress will be made on this at COP26?
We all have an interest in moving the process forward, we have 18 months to get the commitments on track, which is more than for other COPs. So I’m hopeful because I really think that we have the time, the technology, the science, the Indigenous Knowledge… We have women and men who are very intelligent all over the world, we have initiatives, we have political commitments that are beginning to take shape, we have the urgency that is known by all. So what’s missing? We need more courage. It is on the basis of courage that we must build things up and demonstrate our commitments. This COP must set a new pace to get us to reach the Paris objectives.
 Decision 1/CP.21 of the Paris Agreement