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26 Apr 2024

Rukka Sombolinggi, Climate Change News

Indigenous-led declaration demands indigenous peoples and lands to be respected in the context of the energy transition

People's Climate March, NY 2014

"Indigenous lands feel cruel bite of green energy transition", 26 April 2024

"By Rukka Sombolinggi 

Rukka Sombolinggi, a Torajan Indigenous woman from Sulawesi, Indonesia, is the first female Secretary General of AMAN, the world’s largest Indigenous peoples organization.

Gathered in NYC in mid-April, 87 Indigenous leaders from 35 countries met to hammer out a set of demands to address a common scourge: the green energy transition that has our peoples under siege.  

Worldwide, we are experiencing land-grabs and a rising tide of criminalization and attacks for speaking out against mining and renewable energy projects that violate our rights with impacts that are being documented by UN and other experts. Their research confirms what we know firsthand.

And yet political and economic actors continue to ignore the evidence, pushing us aside in their rush to build a system to replace fossil fuels, while guided by the same values that are destroying the natural world.

Ironically, we released this declaration amid the UN’s sustainability week – renewable energy was on the agenda. We were not.

Indigenous peoples are not opposed to pivoting away from oil and gas, nor are we opposed to investing in renewable energy systems as an alternative.

But we must have a say. More than half the mines that are expected to produce metals and minerals to serve renewable technologies are on or near the territories of Indigenous peoples and peasant communities...

Call for ban on mining in ‘no-go’ zones

In the declaration we released in New York earlier this month, we called for laws to reduce the consumption of energy worldwide, and we laid out a path for ensuring that the green transition is a just one.

We urged our governments to recognize and protect our rights as a priority; to end the killings, the violence and the criminalization of our peoples; and to require corporations to secure our free, prior and informed consent, and avoid harming our lands and resources...

So our declaration also calls on governments to impose a ban on the expansion of mining in “no-go” zones – those sites that our peoples identify as sacred and vital as sources of food and clean water. Indigenous communities, rooted in place by time and tradition, can help stop the green transition from destroying biomes that serve all humanity.

The UN Secretary-General launches a panel on critical minerals today that seems to recognize the importance of avoiding harm to affected communities and the environment.

This is a step in the right direction, but Indigenous peoples and our leaders – and recognition and enforcement of our rights – must be at the centre of every proposal for mining and renewable energy that affect us and our territories. This is the only way to keep climate “response measures”, made possible by the Paris Agreement, from harming solutions that exist already..."