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Good Practice: Perspectives and Challenges from the Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Platform

By Anoushka Raval

Key Recommendations 

  • Consideration of local communities and indigenous peoples in national policy frameworks
  • Participation of local communities and indigenous peoples in national policy-making
  • Rights of indigenous peoples and self-determination
  • Engagement between indigenous and government parliaments
  • Gender considerations
  • Considering and engaging with different ways of knowing, knowledge systems, and practices

Perspectives in Context 

With these recommendations acknowledged and understood, how do they compare with reality, and what does good practice look like in different contexts? 

During the In-session Dialogue of the Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Platform, Pasang Dolam Sherpa sets out key elements of what is needed in the Nepalese context and what some challenges of good practice look like in Nepal and in Asia. She sets out that the policy basis is there, but that implementation is weak. Moreover, crucially, she highlights that policies are still based on national level data, thereby applying these on a local level is inhibited from the very start. 

            “When you create a national adaptation plan in the long run you need to understand the ground reality…how Indigenous Peoples, Local Communities, and women contributed… how their lives are attached to the resources.” 

-Pasang Dolma Sherpa

The importance of achieving policies based on data that is sensitive to contexts, including local and national contexts, culture, language, and gender, is essential in creating substantial and meaningful climate adaptation and mitigation plans. Without this data not only are policies and plans flawed, but real acknowledgement and understanding of Indigenous Peoples’ Knowledge, IPLCS contribution to climate adaptation and their protection of biodiversity is incomplete and superficial. 

Challenges to Good Practice

In order to implement good practice and actively create context and IPLC conscious policies and plans, the barriers and challenges that continue to hinder progress need to be overcome and considered. Sherpa raises the issue of language during her presentation, a barrier that is not limited to just the Nepalese context. For Indigenous Peoples, local languages have to be prioritised, forcing data collection, knowledge development and sharing to all be conducted in national languages or English is limiting and doesn’t create spaces for good practice or to realise wide and meaningful participation. 

Moreover, certain practices that are generally accepted within the discourse and creation of climate policy are often camouflaged and not seen as barriers to good practice. These include ideas such as consultation of IPLCs, rather than ensuring consent for policies and initiatives. While consultation is a step towards good practice, consent prevents miscommunication and unconstructive policies. Furthermore, ensuring inclusivity and transparency when creating policies, spaces, and developing plans is essential in promoting trust, cross-border collaboration, and directly acknowledges the knowledge and value of IPLCs from the outset. As a final point, it is also important that these changes in narrative and breaking down of barriers need to occur on all levels, from local and community based action through to policymakers, stakeholders, and representatives in international spaces to ensure that substantial and meaningful climate action can flourish. 

So what does climate policy look like when it works for Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities? When national and local climate policy and adaptation plans work for and support IPLCs, they recognise the value and inherent importance of Indigenous Knowledge, not just for issues concerning IPLCs but for everyone, and recognise the need for Indigenous voices in decision making and policy development. IPLCs have further highlighted that in tandem, Indigenous governments or governance bodies should also still have their own climate policy, mitigation and adaptation plans. Climate issues are urgent and existential and those directly impacting IPLCs cannot wait for states to act for them, as is seen in developments such as the Inuit National Climate Strategy. Moreover, this takes into consideration the fact that not all state approaches to climate mitigation will be in the best interests of IPLCs, independent governance and policies allows for those issues. Furthermore, these ideas of consent and representation are founded in respecting IPLCs, their knowledge and their power in climate mitigation. Thus consent and representation need to be extended across all levels, from education and learning, to ensuring data use and collection is owned and consensually collected by IPLCs not co-opted and taken out of context. These ideas, among many others, pave the way for constructive and progressive climate adaptation and mitigation policies, creating the spaces and conversations for good practice to succeed. 

The full video can be found below: