What is the Indigenous Peoples Platform? From COP21 to Now

At COP 21, the Paris Agreement marked a revolutionary shift in the international response to climate change and its effects. 

The Agreement mandated Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) from UN Members States, and consequently, all countries within the United Nations “agreed to work to limit global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius, and given the grave risks, to strive for 1.5 degrees Celsius” (UN Sustainable Development Goals).

World Leaders at COP21. In Paris, France. Images Source: UNFCCC News Room.
Infographic source: Ecometrica.

For more information on COP 21 specifically, visit Ecometrica’s Review of COP21’s key outcomes.

The Paris Agreement also created the foundation for the Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Operational Platform, which is often referred to as the Operational Platform or just simply The Platform.

In the Paris Agreement, Paragraph 135 recognizes the importance of indigenous communities in the fight against climate change.

The Agreement claims that the UN needs to “strengthen knowledge, technologies, practices and efforts of local communities and indigenous peoples related to addressing and responding to climate change.”  

The wording in the Paris Agreement is relatively vague, as the platform is tasked with sharing indigenous practices of climate mitigation and adaptation, but does not specify how this is to be accomplished.

However, the inclusion of indigenous concerns into the Agreement was monumental for the potential engagement of indigenous peoples with the UNFCCC.

At the COP 22, member states decided to adopt an “ incremental and participatory approach to developing the local communities and indigenous peoples platform with a view to ensuring its effective operationalization” (UN Secretariat).

To do so, COP 22 solicited feedback from stakeholders and opened a dialogue at COP 23 within SBSTA 47 (the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice).   

Screen Shot 2017-12-09 at 2.23.09 PM
Timeline source: Local communities and indigenous peoples platform: proposals on operationalization based on the open multi- stakeholder dialogue and submissions. Report by the UN Secretariat.

The feedback solicited from stakeholders and constituents was compiled by the UNFCCC, and the distribution of submissions can be seen below in the first figure below.

These recommendations were discussed at SBSTA 46, at the Climate Talks in May 2017 in Bonn, Germany.

The second figure below displays the distribution of participants who gave feedback after COP 22.

Screen Shot 2017-12-09 at 4.44.47 PM
Graph source: Report by the UN Secretariat.
Screen Shot 2017-12-09 at 4.44.56 PM
Graph source: Report by the UN Secretariat.

Constituents in the dialogue solidified 3 main goals and purpose for the platform.

These are also called the “core functions” of the platform, and are illustrated in an infographic below. The platform will. . .

  1. Promote the exchange of knowledge between indigenous peoples, local systems, and the UNFCCC, while taking into consideration free, prior, and informed consent of local and indigenous constituencies.
  2. Promote a capacity for engagement. Basically, it will help indigenous peoples engage with the UNFCCC in regards to the Paris Agreement and other climate change policies, and vice versa.
  3. Promote climate change policies and actions, that take into consideration (1) indigenous knowledge and peoples and (2) more ambitious climate action.
Image Source: UNFCCC Statement on the Indigenous Peoples Platform.

The infographic above can also be found in my blog on The Platform at COP23.

The COP 22 tasked COP 23 with holding a multi-stake holder dialogue on the Platform, and I attended these meetings while I was at the COP. I also attended other open meetings between the official negotiations on The Platform.

What do you think about The Platform? For my next blog post, I am going to publish a series of recommendations I have for the COP–what more should be done for the future, and the importance of operationalizing the Platform (basically, making its goals a reality).

These recommendations, as well as more background on indigenous peoples and the UN, can be found compiled in this white paper I wrote about The Operational Platform. The link will be provided in my next blog post. Stay tuned!


Thanks for stopping by! Have questions? Comments? Concerns? Feel free to leave a comment below and I’ll be sure to get back to you. 🙂


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