Members of the Chilean Indigenous Caucus explored the different challenges and visions to address Climate Change integrating their Cosmovision and knowledge

Minister for Environment and COP25 President, Carolina Schmidt, alongside the Resident Coordinator of the United Nations in Chile, Silvia Rucks, and the Undersecretary of the Ministry of Social Development, Sebastián Villarreal, met virtually with members of Chile’s Indigenous Peoples Caucus on Climate Change.
During the event, the authorities pledged their support in formalizing the Indigenous Caucus of Chile on Climate Change, and reinforcing work between their people, the Government and the United Nations to advance and achieve concrete measures that incorporate the worldview in climate change policies.

In commemoration of the “International Indigenous Peoples Day”, on Sunday 9th August Minister for Environment and COP25 President, Carolina Schmidt, along with the Resident Coordinator of the United Nations System in Chile, Silvia Rucks, and Sebastián Villarreal, of the Ministry of Social Development and Family, met virtually with members of Chile’s Indigenous Peoples Caucus on Climate Change in order to exchange insights and challenges on addressing Climate Change from the perspective of Indigenous Peoples, based on experiences of participation in COP25.

In the context of its Presidency of COP25, since 2019 Chile’s Ministry for Environment – with its strong commitment to enhancing the contribution of indigenous peoples to climate action – has supported global indigenous participation, particularly from Latin America, in international initiatives, establishing spaces for dialogue and promoting the unique knowledge of these groups.

“Due to their close relationship with the environment, indigenous peoples are in a unique position to address, through their ancestral knowledge, the challenges of climate change. As the Presidency of COP25, we seek to strengthen the knowledge, technologies, practices and efforts of local communities and indigenous peoples related to the response to climate change”, says Minister Carolina Schmidt.

It is in this context that, in conjunction with the Ministry of Social Development and Family, and with the support and accompaniment of the United Nations System in Chile, the decision was taken to establish a ‘Chilean Indigenous Caucus for COP25’ as part of preparation for last year’s summit, convening a range of indigenous leaders and experts from the country.

The creation of this space for dialogue has been critical, offering a first step to incorporating the indigenous worldview on climate change: the knowledge and wisdom of Indigenous Peoples about nature is an invaluable contribution to climate action in Chile and globally.

“We thank the members of the Chilean Indigenous Caucus for their commitment to creating global strategies for mitigation and adaptation in the area of climate change. Their willingness to give continuity to this dialogue, by sharing the wisdom, ancestral practices and worldview of indigenous peoples is a tremendous contribution to understanding an issue that concerns and affects all of humanity”, says the Undersecretary for Social Development of the Ministry for Social Development and Family, Sebastián Villarreal.

For her part, the Coordinator of the United Nations in Chile, Silvia Rucks, expressed her strong appreciation to members of the Chilean Indigenous for their interest in continuing to work at nationally and internationally on responding to climate change. She stressed that “we have a lot to learn from indigenous peoples, who are the ones who have been at the forefront of the demand for environmental and climate measures throughout the planet.”

The representative of UN Chile, also greeted the Indigenous Peoples represented at the meeting, on the occasion of the International Day of Indigenous Peoples commemorated every August 9, reiterating “the decision of the United Nations to make the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and to shore up the resilience of these peoples ”.

Following the launch of the call for applications to join the Chilean Indigenous Caucus, 69 applications we received, of which 25 successful candidates were selected in accordance with criteria that sought to prioritize the following attributes:

  1. a) Individuals belonging to the Indigenous Peoples of Chile, with academic training and/or verifiable knowledge on environmental issues;
  2. b) Individuals belonging to the Indigenous Peoples of Chile who, individually or as part of a community, association or organization, undertake specific initiatives focused on environmental issues, especially related to climate change; and
  3. c) Indigenous leaders and/or representatives who have held a leadership role in processes or initiatives focused on environmental issues and especially climate change.

A central objective in the formation of the Caucus was to strengthen the participation of Chile’s Indigenous People in discussion of global strategies to address climate change. In addition, the Caucus seeks to promote the exchange of experiences by members and facilitate participation in national and international climate change initiatives; to promote the development of public policy in a way that respects and promotes Indigenous People’s interests; and to facilitate the implementation of ambitious climate action that contribute to a global efforts to tackle climate change.

Following seven working sessions held from 18th-21st November 2019 and the suspension of preparatory activities as a result of COP25 not being held in Santiago, the organizing team arranged for the participation of the Caucus in COP25 sessions held in Madrid, Spain, last December.

“Participating in COP25 in Madrid, Spain, allowed me to have a broader view by learning from the experience of my other brothers from indigenous peoples around the world on adaptation, mitigation, sustainable development and successful practices. We listen to the story of other brothers and sisters who have the same problems and feel the same urgency as us,” says Rayén Cariman, a Mapuche Woman from Lof Karumanke. “It is possible that together we can contribute to mitigate and help heal our Ñuke Mapu (Mother Earth). For us Mapuches, in our worldview, what hurts us the most is that our Mother is ill. She is not a stranger, Mother Earth, she is our mother, and we are going to do whatever is necessary for her to heal”, she adds.

Freddy Sebastián Medina, Member of the Indigenous Caucus of Chile on Climate Change, comments: “The creation of the Indigenous Caucus of Chile is a first step to establishing a permanent dialogue between indigenous communities and the public administration on the climate and environmental emergency that we are suffering in Chile. Based on my experience at COP25, I believe that it is increasingly urgent that indigenous peoples co-lead climate action – not only within their communities – but also in the Regional Committees on Climate Change (CORECC), especially now that Chile will hold the COP25 Presidency for two years, something which is unprecedented in the history of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). I also believe that it is an opportunity to drive progress in mitigating measures and to recover water resources, especially in indigenous territories”.