Moderated by Professor Kristen Carpenter, the panel features Fawn Sharp, President, National Congress of American Indians; Kim Gottschalk, Staff Attorney, Native American Rights Fund; and Andrea Carmen, Executive Director, International Indian Treaty Council.
On October 31, 2021, the world will gather in Glasgow for COP26, a major summit on climate change. As the U.S. rejoins the Paris Agreement, Indigenous Peoples, their traditional knowledge, and relationship with the earth are also at the forefront. Join Colorado Law for a discussion with Indigenous leaders and advocates to learn what’s at stake for all of us.
The Guidelines for Considering Traditional Knowledges in Climate Change Initiatives is available for download here.
This publication is intended to be an informational resource for tribes, agencies, and organizations across the U.S.
About the Guidelines:
The Third National Climate Assessment issued in May 2014 contained a chapter dedicated to the impact of climate change on tribal peoples. In light of the increasing recognition of the significance of traditional knowledges (TKs) in relation to climate change, a self-organized, informal group of indigenous persons, staff of indigenous governments and organizations, and experts with experience working with issues concerning traditional knowledges (The Climate and Traditional Knowledges Workgroup – CTKW), felt compelled to develop a framework to increase understanding of issues relating to access and protection of TKs in climate initiatives and interactions between holders of TKs and non-tribal partners. The Guidelines were originally developed to inform the Department of Interior’s Advisory Committee on Climate Change and Natural Resource Science (ACCCNRS) in May 2014.
Climate change is disproportionately impacting Arctic American indigenous peoples. Consequently, these communities are environmental justice communities. The environmental justice claims of Arctic American indigenous peoples result from the effects of climate change intersecting with indigenous peoples’ human rights. In order to explore these realities more fully, part I of this article discusses how American indigenous nations are environmental justice communities and discusses the unique factors that may apply to environmental justice claims arising in Indian country. The article then presents two case studies to explore how, if at all, these concepts have been previously applied to environmental justice claims brought by various American indigenous communities. Part II addresses the Inuit Circumpolar Conference’s (ICC) petition to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) in December 2005. Part III considers the Native Village of Kivalina’s lawsuit filed in federal court in the United States in February 2008 against numerous private emitters of greenhouse gases.
Although the ICC and Kivalina claims involve different forums, defendants, and legal theories, both were brought by American indigenous communities in response to the negative impacts of climate change on their communities. Accordingly, evaluation of the ICC’s and Kivalina’s claims is helpful in understanding how environmental justice as applied to indigenous communities may include consideration of factors not applicable to environmental justice claims raised by other environmental justice communities.
Moreover, this article will underscore how Arctic American indigenous peoples’ environmental justice claims also involve human rights dimensions, as climate change is destroying their environment and, as a result, their culture. As fully explained in part I, environmental justice claims arising in Indian country must take into consideration indigenous sovereignty, the federal trust relationship and the unique connection between many indigenous communities and their land and environment. In both of the case studies examined here, the legal forums failed to take these legal factors into consideration. As a result, the indigenous communities suffered.
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