Stories articles Policy

Policy apprentices group picture at UNPFII, April 2023

In April 2023, Nia Tero supported the participation of Indigenous partners at the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII), in New York. Photo by Hill Ossip

February 2, 2024

Centering Indigenous Rights in Global Policy: A Year of Advocacy

2023 was a defining period in advancing Indigenous rights within global policy forums.

Nia Tero works with Indigenous Peoples worldwide to ensure that relevant global, national, and regional policies strongly support Indigenous guardianship and respect Indigenous Peoples’ rights to self-determination.

Indigenous Peoples sustain much of the world's healthiest ecosystems and biodiversity. Their knowledge is essential to addressing multiple crises on our planet. Yet, despite their undeniable contributions in caring for a healthy planet, they still face closed doors in global policy negotiations.

In 2023, Nia Tero’s policy team worked hard to elevate Indigenous voices and rights on the world stage, supporting Indigenous Peoples’ participation and leadership in global policy events regarding the environment and human rights.

Learn more about Nia Tero’s Policy work throughout 2023:

Engagement in global biodiversity negotiations to advance the implementation of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (KMGBF)

Diving into global biodiversity negotiations, Nia Tero’s policy team sought to incorporate Indigenous viewpoints into the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (KMGBF).

This historic framework, adopted in December 2022 by the state parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), consists of global targets and goals to be achieved by 2030 and beyond to safeguard the world’s biodiversity.

Teaming up with instrumental allies like the International Indigenous Forum on Biodiversity (IIFB), Nia Tero influenced the creation of pivotal implementation guides and holistic work plans for the CBD, effectively shaping the KMGBF's execution to promote and respect Indigenous Peoples’ rights. This effort directly influenced the recommendations of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Peoples (UNFPII) on the recognition and implementation of the KMGBF.

Nia Tero’s policy team also conducted tailored training sessions geared toward Indigenous leaders and to strengthen the active participation of youth and women in discussions about the KMGBF. This initiative’s goal was to empower and equip Indigenous communities with the tools and knowledge needed to actively steer the trajectory of biodiversity frameworks in policy forums.

Supporting African Indigenous Peoples and local communities to establish a regional alliance on community conservation

In October 2023, Nia Tero and other allies played a key role in facilitating Africa’s first-ever community-led conservation congress in Namibia. The gathering united more than 300 representatives of Indigenous Peoples, local communities, governments, donors, and NGOs from 47 African countries to develop a community-led and people-centered conservation strategy in Africa.

The event shed light on challenges faced by Indigenous Peoples across the continent. It highlighted the urgent need for funding and legal initiatives to safeguard land rights, and it revealed pressing issues like conservation-related displacement in Tanzania, land rights limitations in Namibia, and complex land use matters in Kenya. It also helped to define a roadmap for the emerging Alliance for Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities for Conservation in Africa (AICA) – a platform to share concerns, actions, learnings, and programs happening in the region.

Spiritual opening of the Indigenous caucus during COP28. Photo by Nia Tero.
Spiritual opening of the Indigenous caucus during COP28. Photo by Nia Tero.

Supporting Indigenous Peoples’ engagement in global and regional climate processes and negotiations

Committed to strengthening Indigenous Peoples’ participation and leadership in global forums, Nia Tero’s policy team facilitated Indigenous engagement in global and regional climate processes and negotiations, including the New York Climate Week (NYCW) and the Regional Climate Weeks in Africa (ACW), Latin America and Caribbean (LACCW), and Asia-Pacific (APCW) that resulted in regional reflections and responses to crucial COP28 agenda items, spotlighting Indigenous perspectives on climate action.

At COP28, Nia Tero played an active role by supporting the Indigenous Caucus in strengthening their capacity for responsiveness, decision-making, and negotiation within this forum, as well as monitoring negotiations and critical issues for Indigenous Peoples.

Nia Tero also helped in generating strategic dialogues between key actors and highlighting Indigenous voices in strategic scenarios, focusing on the importance of Indigenous guardianship and ensuring that our partners actively lead these interventions.

Supporting Indigenous engagement in Indigenous-specific United Nations mandates and key human rights mechanisms

Nia Tero’s active engagement in UN bodies with Indigenous-specific mandates aims to amplify Indigenous Peoples’ concerns and contribute to developing standards and recommendations to address them.

In 2023, Nia Tero supported the participation of Indigenous partners in the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) and at the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP), leading to recommendations to the KMGBF implementation.

Additionally, our partners from Peru and Colombia addressed serious militarization threats that they are facing in their countries. During the UN’s 54th Session of the Human Rights Council, we supported the participation of Indigenous women to address violations faced in their territories.

Training to enable effective Indigenous participation in key global policy processes

Nia Tero conducted and led trainings to enable effective Indigenous participation in key global policy processes. Working with the Network of Indigenous Women for Biodiversity and the Universidad Nacional de Tres de Febrero (UNTREF), ongoing specialized training sessions were conducted for more than 100 Indigenous youth and women from 15 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, focusing on the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework.

Additionally, targeted training programs were conducted through collaboration with Indigenous People Rights International (IPRI) and the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Indigenous Peoples (UNVFIP), involving 50 to 70 Indigenous individuals across diverse regions throughout Latin America, Africa, North America, and Asia to address various United Nations treaty bodies.

The training for Indigenous Peoples in preparation for COP28 was organized with the UNVFIP, IPRI, and the ELATIA Training Institute, drawing more than 200 registered trainees, with 30 attending COP28 in person who benefitted from hands-on mentoring by Indigenous climate negotiation experts.

Indigenous leaders and apprentices were encouraged to actively contribute and advocate in major global meetings through Nia Tero’s Policy Apprenticeship Program.

Looking ahead

In 2023, Nia Tero's policy team made significant strides in advocating for Indigenous rights globally. This work will continue in 2024, as Nia Tero's unwavering commitment to Indigenous Peoples lays the groundwork for continued impactful engagement, striving for equality and justice for Indigenous Peoples worldwide.

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