Their land, our future: To arrest the climate crisis, we need a democratic overhaul (commentary)

Their land, our future: To arrest the climate crisis, we need a democratic overhaul (commentary)

The global climate change conference (COP25) kicks off in Madrid today, instead of in Santiago, Chile, where escalating protests pushed the Chilean government to step down as COP25 hosts. The unrest in Chile boiled up from a deep well of resentment over economic inequality. Ironically and tragically — for Chileans, for COP25, for all of us — the same economic drivers causing protests in Santiago are also driving the planet toward the climate brink. The answer? Both the climate crisis and inequality require a democratic overhaul. And governments globally should start by turning over legal control of land and natural resources to local communities and indigenous land users. Their rights are key to survival for all of us. A recent study published in BioScience (endorsed by 11,000 scientists from around the globe) and the IPCC’s new report on land are part of a growing consensus: the rights of the 2.5 billion people who live closest to the earth are central to both impacts and solutions for the climate crisis. Both publications highlight that preserving forests and restoring degraded agricultural land is crucial, and both identify rural land users as the group that can achieve this. Increasing evidence shows that the groups who have the least voice in decisions about natural resources (women, youth, indigenous groups, and smallholder farmers) are best placed to sustainably manage those resources. Local communities and indigenous groups rely directly on forests and agriculture for a living, and manage approximately 65 percent of the world’s land. We…This article was originally published on Mongabay

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