By Leonardo Valenzuela Pérez on July 10, 2019
UUSC has committed to centering and uplifting the voices of Indigenous and First Peoples in addressing the devastating impacts of climate change. At a recent forum in Scotland, UUSC staff presented its strategy to support First and Indigenous communities with the resources they need to adequately address changes in climate.
In June, the first World Forum on Climate Justice took place in Scotland, organized by the Center for Climate Justice at the Glasgow Caledonian University. The forum was a diverse gathering that attracted scholars, government officials and NGO professionals to discuss the urgent challenges posed by the global climate emergency and the approaches taken by diverse actors to take meaningful action to contribute to sustainable and just transitions.
The same week of the forum, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau declared a national climate emergency, then the next day approved the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline to transport crude oil from Alberta to the United States, worsening the climate crisis at a rate of up to 15 million tons of carbon dioxide per year. This approval comes in light of the opposition of Indigenous communities; Trudeau’s justification was that the revenue from the pipeline’s operation will fund a transition to a clean economy.
UUSC participated in the only panel dedicated to Indigenous issues. Our presentation, “Steps Towards Climate Justice Decolonization: Notes on Indigenous Partnerships at UUSC” outlined the principles and priorities that are informing UUSC’s strategy to support First and Indigenous communities threatened by the climate crisis; principles and priorities that have been previously developed in our funders’ guide, Alaska declaration and Alaska convening report. We stressed the need for appropriate safeguards and protocols to protect the interests of those communities, especially in the context of engagements with NGOs and academic partners. Additionally, we addressed the issues of land and language as priorities to create alternative futures as well as for any serious decolonization effort.
The organizers of the first World Forum on Climate Justice had the ambition of reaching beyond academic spaces to bring together a diverse group in terms of professional sectors, disciplines, and even nationalities. UUSC responded to this call in alignment with our strategic strength of supporting grassroots power while taking part in institutional dialogues that are likely to shape the language and reality of human rights protection and climate action around the world in coming years.
Photo Credit: iStock – grandriver
About UUSC: Guided by the belief that all people have inherent worth and dignity, UUSC advances human rights globally by partnering with affected communities who are confronting injustice, mobilizing to challenge oppressive systems, and inspiring and sustaining spiritually grounded activism for justice. We invite you to join us in this journey toward realizing a better future!