In Bolivia The Contribution Of Indigenous People To Fighting Climate Change Is Hanging By A Thread

In Bolivia The Contribution Of Indigenous People To Fighting Climate Change Is Hanging By A Thread EPA-EFE/Martin Alipaz

Earth’s forests oxygenate the atmosphere and store vast quantities of planet-warming carbon dioxide (CO₂). But research suggests that the health of these vast ecosystems in large part depends on the work of indigenous people.

Indigenous territories and protected areas cover 52% of the Amazon forest and store 58% of its carbon. A recent study found that these areas had the lowest net loss of carbon between 2003 and 2016, with 90% of net emissions coming from outside these protected lands.

“Where indigenous people live, [in Central America] you will find the best preserved natural resources,” declared the International Union for Conservation of Nature in 2018. A study published that year found that “indigenous people are crucial for the conservation of a quarter of the land of the Earth”.

In the forest territories that indigenous people maintain deforestation is lower, more carbon is stored and less emitted, biodiversity is better conserved, and resources are more sustainably and fairly managed.

But indigenous territories and the biodiversity and carbon they protect are under siege. For indigenous people to continue in this invaluable role, they need secure land tenure and strong local governance systems. Nowhere is this currently more apparent than in Bolivia.

In Bolivia The Contribution Of Indigenous People To Fighting Climate Change Is Hanging By A Thread A native tour guide traverses the jungle of Madidi National Park, Bolivia. Matyas Rehak/Shutterstock

From championing to co-opting indigenous rights

On indigenous territories in Bolivia that have secured property rights, deforestation rates are 2.8 times lower than outside of them. Such lands cover 20% of the country’s territory, so the contribution of indigenous peoples in Bolivia to fighting climate change is substantial.

But this situation has been undermined by Bolivia’s development policies, and could be threatened further with the recent shift to a right-wing government.

In the last two decades, Bolivia has led the world in championing indigenous rights. Upon taking power in 2006, Evo Morales helped write a new national constitution. It paved the way to redistribute land to indigenous peoples and support their claims for self-government.

Morales also put indigenous peoples at the forefront of climate change discussions, when in 2010, he organised the People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth. The People’s Agreement that emerged highlighted the important role that indigenous peoples play safeguarding the planet.

In Bolivia The Contribution Of Indigenous People To Fighting Climate Change Is Hanging By A Thread Evo Morales swept to power in 2005, and was re-elected in three consecutive elections. De Visu/Shutterstock

But during his second term in power, the government’s commitment to indigenous rights and to the fight against climate change faltered. In 2010, Morales approved the construction of a road through an indigenous territory and protected area, which was bitterly resisted by the Mojeño people, alongside other indigenous peoples of the lowlands and highlands.

Morales announced his intention in 2013 to expand farming lands from three to 13 million hectares over ten years – allowing agriculture businesses to encroach on indigenous homelands. Morales then increased the area of land that small producers are allowed to deforest from five to 20 hectares, and made the conditions more flexible for this process to continue. Support for biofuel production from soya plantations and cattle grazing for beef export encouraged the opening up of new lands, with people using fire to clear forests for farming.

Between August and September 2019, Bolivia was wracked by the worst forest fires of the last two decades. A total of 3.6 million hectares were burned, and two reports showed that 57% of these fires were set in state-owned lands (which are largely composed of protected areas) and indigenous titled territories.

The push to expand agriculture has continued with Bolivia’s new government. Shortly after Morales resigned on November 10 2019, the legislative assembly of Beni – a lowland region – approved a law which would open 42% of the land to farming and industrial activities. On December 16 2019, Beni’s Indigenous declared a state of emergency.

In Bolivia The Contribution Of Indigenous People To Fighting Climate Change Is Hanging By A Thread Bush fires ravaged the Chiquitos region of Bolivia in late August, 2019. EPA-EFE/Martin Alipaz

Indigenous autonomy in the balance

By granting autonomy rights to indigenous people, the state would effectively recognise their right to govern themselves in matters related to the land and natural resources. Without this, people have no real control of their territories, and there is little that indigenous people can do to control environmental degradation.

Out of 33 claims for territorial self-government that were raised between 2009 and 2019, only three have been approved by the Bolivian government. Our research suggests that the main reason so few have succeeded is the new laws enacted during the Morales era, which make autonomy claims a complex and cumbersome process.

We’ve been working with the Monkoxi Indigenous Nation from the Bolivian lowlands since 2013, to help advance their claim to political autonomy in their territory. The Monkoxi belong to one of the 30 groups that are still waiting for their rights to be recognised, having initiated the legal claim in 2009.

In Bolivia The Contribution Of Indigenous People To Fighting Climate Change Is Hanging By A Thread Autonomy rights allow indigenous people to govern their lands independent of the state. Iokiñe Rodríguez, Author provided

Bolivia is now in the hands of an interim conservative leader, Jeanine Añez, who has been accused by indigenous rights organisations of holding strong anti-indigenous convictions.

Since expansion of the farming frontier was agreed between the right and Morales while he was in power, it’s doubtful the former will change this arrangement if they remain in power after general elections in May 2020. The pending autonomy claims that would allow indigenous people to consolidate their territorial control are also likely to stagnate.

The recent history of Bolivia shows the danger of allowing the fight for indigenous rights and climate action to be co-opted. To ensure that indigenous rights and climate change remain high in the next goverment’s agenda, indigenous peoples must work hard to reunite and recover the independence that they once had from mainstream politics.The Conversation

About The Author

Iokiñe Rodríguez, Senior Lecturer in Environment and Development, University of East Anglia and Mirna Inturias, Lecturer in Environmental Justice, Universidad Nur

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Related Books

Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming

by Paul Hawken and Tom Steyer
9780143130444In the face of widespread fear and apathy, an international coalition of researchers, professionals, and scientists have come together to offer a set of realistic and bold solutions to climate change. One hundred techniques and practices are described here—some are well known; some you may have never heard of. They range from clean energy to educating girls in lower-income countries to land use practices that pull carbon out of the air. The solutions exist, are economically viable, and communities throughout the world are currently enacting them with skill and determination. Available On Amazon

Designing Climate Solutions: A Policy Guide for Low-Carbon Energy

by Hal Harvey, Robbie Orvis, Jeffrey Rissman
1610919564With the effects of climate change already upon us, the need to cut global greenhouse gas emissions is nothing less than urgent. It’s a daunting challenge, but the technologies and strategies to meet it exist today. A small set of energy policies, designed and implemented well, can put us on the path to a low carbon future. Energy systems are large and complex, so energy policy must be focused and cost-effective. One-size-fits-all approaches simply won’t get the job done. Policymakers need a clear, comprehensive resource that outlines the energy policies that will have the biggest impact on our climate future, and describes how to design these policies well. Available On Amazon

This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate

by Naomi Klein
1451697392In This Changes Everything Naomi Klein argues that climate change isn’t just another issue to be neatly filed between taxes and health care. It’s an alarm that calls us to fix an economic system that is already failing us in many ways. Klein meticulously builds the case for how massively reducing our greenhouse emissions is our best chance to simultaneously reduce gaping inequalities, re-imagine our broken democracies, and rebuild our gutted local economies. She exposes the ideological desperation of the climate-change deniers, the messianic delusions of the would-be geoengineers, and the tragic defeatism of too many mainstream green initiatives. And she demonstrates precisely why the market has not—and cannot—fix the climate crisis but will instead make things worse, with ever more extreme and ecologically damaging extraction methods, accompanied by rampant disaster capitalism. Available On Amazon

From The Publisher:
Purchases on Amazon go to defray the cost of bringing you InnerSelf.comelf.com, MightyNatural.com, and ClimateImpactNews.com at no cost and without advertisers that track your browsing habits. Even if you click on a link but don't buy these selected products, anything else you buy in that same visit on Amazon pays us a small commission. There is no additional cost to you, so please contribute to the effort. You can also use this link to use to Amazon at any time so you can help support our efforts.

 

enafarzh-CNzh-TWdanltlfifrdeiwhihuiditjakomsnofaplptruesswsvthtrukurvi

follow InnerSelf on

facebook icontwitter iconyoutube iconinstagram iconpintrest iconrss icon

 Get The Latest By Email

Weekly Magazine Daily Inspiration

LATEST VIDEOS

The Great Climate Migration Has Begun
The Great Climate Migration Has Begun
by Super User
The climate crisis is forcing thousands around the world to flee as their homes become increasingly uninhabitable.
The Last Ice Age Tells Us Why We Need To Care About A 2℃ Change In Temperature
The Last Ice Age Tells Us Why We Need To Care About A 2℃ Change In Temperature
by Alan N Williams, et al
The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) states that without a substantial decrease…
Earth Has Stayed Habitable For Billions Of Years – Exactly How Lucky Did We Get?
Earth Has Stayed Habitable For Billions Of Years – Exactly How Lucky Did We Get?
by Toby Tyrrell
It took evolution 3 or 4 billion years to produce Homo sapiens. If the climate had completely failed just once in that…
How Mapping The Weather 12,000 Years Ago Can Help Predict Future Climate Change
How Mapping The Weather 12,000 Years Ago Can Help Predict Future Climate Change
by Brice Rea
The end of the last ice age, around 12,000 years ago, was characterised by a final cold phase called the Younger Dryas.…
The Caspian Sea Is Set To Fall By 9 Metres Or More This Century
The Caspian Sea Is Set To Fall By 9 Metres Or More This Century
by Frank Wesselingh and Matteo Lattuada
Imagine you are on the coast, looking out to sea. In front of you lies 100 metres of barren sand that looks like a…
Venus Was Once More Earth-like, But Climate Change Made It Uninhabitable
Venus Was Once More Earth-like, But Climate Change Made It Uninhabitable
by Richard Ernst
We can learn a lot about climate change from Venus, our sister planet. Venus currently has a surface temperature of…
Five Climate Disbeliefs: A Crash Course In Climate Misinformation
The Five Climate Disbeliefs: A Crash Course In Climate Misinformation
by John Cook
This video is a crash course in climate misinformation, summarizing the key arguments used to cast doubt on the reality…
The Arctic Hasn't Been This Warm For 3 Million Years and That Means Big Changes For The Planet
The Arctic Hasn't Been This Warm For 3 Million Years and That Means Big Changes For The Planet
by Julie Brigham-Grette and Steve Petsch
Every year, sea ice cover in the Arctic Ocean shrinks to a low point in mid-September. This year it measures just 1.44…

LATEST ARTICLES

green energy2 3
Four Green Hydrogen Opportunities for the Midwest
by Christian Tae
To avert a climate crisis, the Midwest, like the rest of the country, will need to fully decarbonize its economy by…
ug83qrfw
Major Barrier to Demand Response Needs to End
by John Moore, On Earth
If federal regulators do the right thing, electricity customers across the Midwest may soon be able to earn money while…
trees to plant for climate2
Plant These Trees To Improve City Life
by Mike Williams-Rice
A new study establishes live oaks and American sycamores as champions among 17 “super trees” that will help make cities…
north sea sea bed
Why We Must Understand Seabed Geology To Harness The Winds
by Natasha Barlow, Associate Professor of Quaternary Environmental Change, University of Leeds
For any country blessed with easy access to the shallow and windy North Sea, offshore wind will be key to meeting net…
3 wildfire lessons for forest towns as Dixie Fire destroys historic Greenville, California
3 wildfire lessons for forest towns as Dixie Fire destroys historic Greenville, California
by Bart Johnson, Professor of Landscape Architecture, University of Oregon
A wildfire burning in hot, dry mountain forest swept through the Gold Rush town of Greenville, California, on Aug. 4,…
China Can Meet Energy and Climate Goals Capping Coal Power
China Can Meet Energy and Climate Goals Capping Coal Power
by Alvin Lin
At the Leader’s Climate Summit in April, Xi Jinping pledged that China will “strictly control coal-fired power…
Blue water surrounded by dead white grass
Map tracks 30 years of extreme snowmelt across US
by Mikayla Mace-Arizona
A new map of extreme snowmelt events over the last 30 years clarifies the processes that drive rapid melting.
A plane drops red fire retardant on to a forest fire as firefighters parked along a road look up into the orange sky
Model predicts 10-year burst of wildfire, then gradual decline
by Hannah Hickey-U. Washington
A look at the long-term future of wildfires predicts an initial roughly decade-long burst of wildfire activity,…

 Get The Latest By Email

Weekly Magazine Daily Inspiration

New Attitudes - New Possibilities

InnerSelf.comClimateImpactNews.com | InnerPower.net
MightyNatural.com | WholisticPolitics.com | InnerSelf Market
Copyright ©1985 - 2021 InnerSelf Publications. All Rights Reserved.