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Actor Alec Baldwin backs call for indigenous rights

Movement for climate and development action grows at Global Landscapes Forum
Screenshot of Alec Baldwin addressing Global Landscapes Forum by video.

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Hollywood actor Alec Baldwin this week joined the ranks of a growing movement to reach climate and development goals as part of the Global Landscapes Forum (GLF) in Bonn, Germany.

Speaking by video address at the conference of 1,000 people from 104 countries, plus another 51,000 online, Baldwin backed the GLF’s landscape-scale approach to achieving a sustainable and equitable world.

“There are indigenous people safeguarding many of the world’s remaining standing forests. We can empower them with rights,” he said.

“There are solutions emerging every day that combine food security, livelihoods and progress towards climate and development goals. We can champion them.”

The rights of indigenous peoples to land and forests was a topic widely discussed at the Forum, both as an issue of justice and one of meeting global goals on climate action and sustainable development.

An Indigenous Peoples Pavilion at the event became the hub of discussions on indigenous leadership and partnership in equitable development, sustainable landscapes and local action that infused talks throughout the two-day event.

   Joan Carling, Co-convener of the Indigenous Peoples Major Group for Sustainable Development, signs a Memorandum of Understanding with CIFOR Director General Robert Nasi (in red), accompanied by CIFOR analyst Stephen Leonard (in blue). CIFOR Photo/Pilar Valbuena Perez


Indigenous peoples will play an important role in the GLF movement going forward, as confirmed by a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed in Bonn on the final day.

The agreement between the Indigenous Peoples Major Group for Sustainable Development (IPMG) and the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), which leads the GLF, confirms the involvement of indigenous peoples in the multi-stakeholder platform from 2018-2022.

“Scientific knowledge is built on traditional knowledge,” said Joan Carling, Co-convener of the IPMG, at the event’s closing plenary.

“We, the indigenous peoples, are here because there is something we are contributing to landscape management, to sustainable development … We need to be treated as actors, not the problem, or the victim.”

Under the new agreement, IPMG will hold a permanent seat on the GLF Knowledge Committee, will regularly host discussions and exhibitions at GLF events, and will be involved in training courses, youth events and online forums, among other opportunities for participation.

“Involvement of indigenous peoples is crucial to the success of the Global Landscapes Forum, and the sustainable management of landscapes more generally,” CIFOR Director General Robert Nasi said at the signing.

“Indigenous peoples are not only important rights-holders in their landscapes, but often keepers of crucial knowledge that can support sustainable management for environmental and human well-being.”

   Roberto Borrero (center), Programs and Communications Coordinator of International Indian Treaty Council, joins a discussion forum on rights and equitable development. CIFOR Photo/Pilar Valbuena Perez


A well-attended discussion forum led by IPMG at GLF Bonn highlighted the need to put indigenous peoples at the center of policymaking processes concerning sustainability and land conservation.

Speakers urged increased investment in indigenous communities, both in terms of funds and investments in traditional knowledge, saying that both go a long way in conserving landscapes.

“I think that’s one of the biggest contributions that indigenous organizers and young professionals are making, in every field addressing climate change and unsustainable development, is that they look at everything as its complete picture. We look at what’s affecting our air, our father sky, our mother earth,” said panelist Janene Yazzie, Co-founder and CEO of Sixth World Solutions.

Further calls were made to see indigenous contributions not as a relic of the past, but as a present and future resource that is constantly adapting to change. New information technologies were identified as powerful tools to connect indigenous groups around the world and to disseminate their issues and concerns.

“There’s also this issue of resilience that is so important, and that we not look at traditional and indigenous knowledge systems as being somehow frozen,” said Jeffrey Campbell, Manager of Forest and farm facility (FFF) at the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

“Because we see these being adapted on a daily basis – new corn varieties need to now be preferred over older ones, new parts of the landscape have to be used for cultivation, new awareness of the role of forests is coming in, or even what is a territory,” he added.

At the closing plenary, Carling from IPMG stressed the need for collaborative and inclusive action.

“We need to come together in a constructive dialogue — in a frank talk — finding solutions that everybody can contribute to,” she said.

“We can find the solutions and we can work together to really strengthen landscape management.”

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Topic(s) :   Climate change