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Indigenous Groups Meet In Alaska On Climate Change

April 21, 2009

Indigenous peoples from throughout the world gathered in Anchorage, Alaska, on Monday for discussions on the impact of global climate change on their native communities.

“Indigenous peoples are on the front lines of this global problem, at a time when their cultures and livelihoods in traditional lands are already threatened,” an AFP report quoted Patricia Cochran, chairwoman of the Indigenous Peoples’ Global Summit on Climate Change, as saying.

Cochran’s organization is one of the groups sponsoring the event.

“The indigenous community worldwide really wanted to have an opportunity to come together to discuss issues about climate change, and all the problems that they are facing in their communities and how we’ve tried to resolve those issues,” she said.

According to organizers, indigenous peoples from around the world will be represented at the meeting, where they will share experiences and observations of early climate change and discuss traditional methods to help ease the problem.

While the gathering will highlight the negative impact of global warming on indigenous peoples, it will also offer potential solutions that “address the climate impact being felt in our community,” Cochran said.

The meeting will be conducted some 500 miles east of Newtok, an Alaskan village where melting permafrost and escalating river flow have forced over 300 residents to move to higher ground.

According to native officials, the devastation of Newtok and neighboring communities, as well as the relocation of inhabitants, has cost of tens of millions of dollars.

Recommendations coming out of the meeting will be submitted to a United Nations climate change conference to be held in Copenhagen in December.

The climate change meeting is set to conclude on Friday with the issuance of “recommendations for actions that we will take from here,” Cochran said.

Indigenous groups present at the meeting include representatives from Papua New Guinea, Borneo, Mexico, Kenya, Nepal and elsewhere.

The groups are calling for greater representation of indigenous peoples in drafting a successor treaty to the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012. 

The U.N. Convention on Climate Change is currently working to negotiate a replacement treaty.

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