Delivered by: Her Excellency Razan Al Mubarak , UN High-Level Climate Champion for COP28

Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates,

It is an honour to address you today. I would like to thank the members of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues for giving me this opportunity to speak about the importance of indigenous peoples,  – human health, planetary and territorial health, and climate change. All of which are intrinsically linked. For years I have worked at the heart of international biodiversity and nature conservation.

I recognise the important role that indigenous peoples play in protecting the world’s most biodiverse and ecologically important areas, and the vital role of indigenous knowledge systems for planetary and territorial health.

I witness Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities bearing the brunt of the climate crisis as they stand at the forefront of its impacts. Climate change is devastating livelihoods and ecosystems. However, despite vulnerability, Indigenous Peoples are leading action – in adaptation,  building resilience, and in mitigating the impacts of climate change.

And I am not the only one to recognize Indigenous Peoples contributions to address the climate crisis:

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recognizes Indigenous peoples’ knowledge and action for land and biodiversity stewardship, for the halting of land degradation and desertification, and for climate protection.

The Glasgow Climate Pact recognises the important role of indigenous peoples’ culture and knowledge in effective climate action and urges Governments to actively involve them in designing and implementing climate action. And, the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework recognises the importance of Indigenous stewardship; recognizing and respecting the rights of indigenous peoples; and living in harmony with mother earth.

Despite this recognition, there is still work to do to ensure that future generations can enjoy planetary and territorial health, live in harmony with nature, and continue to pass knowledge down from generation to generation. All of which we can only achieve through a rights-based approach. The Paris Agreement states that climate change is a common concern for all of humankind. And when taking action to address climate change, the rights of indigenous peoples should be respected, promoted, and considered.

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples provides a comprehensive framework for protecting and promoting these rights, and it is imperative that we work together to ensure its implementation when we seek solutions to solve the climate crisis.

We must work to ensure that indigenous peoples are full partners in decision-making processes that affect their lands, health, resources, and way of life. And now, I want to specifically address the Indigenous Peoples in the room: Your knowledge and practices are invaluable in achieving sustainable development and protecting biodiversity…you must be fully engaged in the development of policies and programs that affect your lives and environment.

As a UN Climate Change High-level Champion, I am committed to partnering with you to support your efforts and to promote solutions from Indigenous Peoples to solve the climate crisis.

But, frankly, we need to pick up the pace. Leaders have not done enough to deliver on their Paris commitments. And this must change.

I also recognize the urgent need to promote solutions, technologies, and practices by indigenous peoples.

I stand ready to champion Indigenous Peoples solutions and rights. Over the course of the next year, I will meet with indigenous communities. To hear, first hand, their experiences of climate change and how they are addressing these challenges, building resilience, working collaboratively, innovating through indigenous knowledge.

Over the course of the coming days, the discussions that take place here can act as a  guide for ALL on how to strengthen collective work in mitigating against and adapting to climate change.

And we must take the discussions from the 22nd Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues to COP28 in Dubai – and beyond.

The opportunities for collaboration, innovation, and partnership are great. Let us work together to build a more just, equitable, and sustainable world for all. Let us work together for human health, planetary and territorial health, and climate change. And let us work together through a rights-based approach for climate justice. Thank you.