COP21: Prince Charles calls for more support for indigenous efforts at tackling climate change

Evicting tribal peoples from their land has led to massive deforestation around the world.
Evicting tribal peoples from their land has led to massive deforestation around the world.
© Survival International

Prince Charles has this week joined calls for recognition of indigenous peoples’ land rights as part of efforts to tackle climate change.

Speaking at a meeting with government ministers and indigenous leaders at the Paris climate change summit on Tuesday, Prince Charles explained that it was vitally important that forests are restored and tribal peoples’ land rights respected.

Discussing positive ways to tackle climate change, he emphasized “proper safeguarding of their reserves, traditions and culture.”

The Prince stressed that indigenous peoples are the natural guardians of the forest. He said, “All our efforts should in the first instance be guided by the people whose lives are so much more intimately intertwined with the forests than our own; and that the approaches we take should both recognize and protect their rights, and draw on their wisdom, their perspectives and, of course, their hopes for the future."

He added that for these efforts to be successful, "…there will need to be political will and leadership at the highest level.”

He joins calls led by Survival International for the world’s leaders to recognize that tribal peoples are the best conservationists and guardians of the natural world, and the legal title of their lands should be recognized.

Tribal peoples have been marginalized from the COP21 summit, even though they are among those most affected by climate change. Their efforts to resist destructive activities on their lands have not received sufficient attention and this will likely lead to more forests being destroyed in the future, and more targeting of indigenous people who defend their land.

Despite Prince Charles’ appeal for further support, many governments present at the COP 21 talks may well continue to deny tribal peoples their collective land ownership rights.