Daily Archives: November 12, 2021

Blue Carbon Leaders at COP26: Seychelles, Belize, and Costa Rica provide a Framework for Bluer NDCs

By Student Delegate Isabella Smith

Collaboration and creativity are crucial to developing and implementing blue Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement. That was the major takeaway from COP26’s blue carbon panel with four major leaders in the blue carbon field. On Thursday, Minister Flavien Joubert of Seychelles, Vice Minister Cynthia Barzuna Gutierrez of Costa Rica, Minister Andrew Perez of Belize, and CEO Angelique Pouponneau of SeyCCAT met to talk about blue carbon protections in NDCs and enhancing ambition through nature-based solutions. The experts shared a lot as the three nations paved the way with ambitious blue goals and detailed action plans.

First, each speaker shared how their already distinctive successes would continue to develop over the next decade. Minister Joubert announced that Seychelles’ seagrass and coastal wetlands protections would reach 50% by 2025, and 100% by 2030. Minister Perez stated that Belize’s NDC would double mangrove protections by 2025 and add another 6 hectares by 2030, while simultaneously restoring thousands of hectares of mangroves. Vice Minister Gutierrez declared that Costa Rica is closely committed to the 30×30 goal, and with 27% of their lands already protected, their focus is now on the ocean. Angelique added that from her perspective as the CEO of SeyCCAT, she has found that the most critical part of making these plans a reality is partnerships and incorporating stakeholders into the process.

All of the leaders echoed the same sentiments. To design effective commitments, they must be both ambitious and realistic. This requires listening to local stakeholders, transferring knowledge between the experts in any given field and the locals who know the land, incorporating all sectors into decisions, and forming partnerships based on mutual respect. Angelique described how people were usually not familiar with the crucial importance of the blue carbon resource at the beginning of her seagrass projects. But after engaging with locals through social media, conversation, seagrass art, and poetry competitions, and getting hotels and businesses involved – Seychellois now not only know all about seagrass but cherish its value. Carrying out these grassroots interactions is deeply intertwined in the success of meeting NDC goals.

Additionally, each leader described the critical importance of sustainable financing. All leaders reiterated the popular opinion that there is a call on developed nations to step up and support the efforts of developing countries and small island nations in particular. However, they had specific ideas on how to carry out that common position. Minister Joubert and Angelique spoke about how financing does not always need to be from the government, it can also be private. Angelique suggested leveraging public funds to attract more long-lasting private finance. Minister Gutierrez also made clear that the current finance mechanisms need to be innovated and updated, to make it more efficient and transparent. Angelique put it best, “Conservation without funding, is just a conversation.”

At the end of the discussion, when asked what they would say to leaders just now looking to create bluer NDCs, each stated that the framework is already here. Belize, Seychelles, and Costa Rica have created three similar but unique models for quickly and efficiently addressing the ocean-climate nexus. As Angelique said, “don’t be scared, just follow the blueprint.”

LIVE FROM COP26: Green Colonialism Threatening Life of the Arctic and the Livelihood of Indigenous Peoples

Photo Credit to Svetlana Romanova

By Student Delegate Mackenzie Bindas

COP26 provided a narrow opportunity for diverse communities to show how climate change impacts their livelihoods directly and the urgent need for climate action. Media used to convey these climate messages include films, music, artwork, and others.

The Sámi Indigenous peoples also shared their climate message at the COP26, Need to Be Cold panel, emphasizing the threats impacting their livelihoods within the Arctic and Boreal regions. The panel focused on the Sámi, a group of Indigenous people located in the Sápmi region, stretching to parts of Finland, Norway, Sweden, and the Kola peninsula in Russia. Panelists included: Pirita Näkkäläjärv, Svetlana Romanova, Tuomas Aslak Juuso, Tero Mustonen, and Magnus Davidson.

The Sámi peoples fight to have their rights linked to climate change. For Indigenous people like the Sámi, climate change and its harmful impacts are a daily menace. Sámi people are strongly connected with nature, so much so that climate change threatens their economy, society, culture, and health.

The Arctic is currently undergoing a significant change affecting its environment and communities. The Arctic is warming three times faster than average temperatures in the world, which causes sea ice to disappear. Sea ice provides vital habitats for many species like polar bears, seals, whales, and fish stocks. Without sea ice, species may migrate or not survive, which impedes traditional harvesting practices.

Panelist Svetlana Romanova shared a video essay illuminating climate impacts on two local Indigenous groups she belongs to in Russia: Evenk and Sakha. The film demonstrates how her Indigenous family has adapted over the years to the climate impacts. Reindeer migration patterns also have changed, wildfires occur more frequently, and inconsistent seasonal resources make food security an issue. Many Indigenous people in the Nordic area depend on reindeer herding and hunting. Without these animals, the Indigenous people lose their primary source of protein, economic tools, and clothing.

One study shows that wildfires have played a beneficial role in Sámi land management and Native American history. A routine burning can help create clear roads, drive prey out, clear underbrush, and provide new pastures. However, wildfires are occurring more frequently because of climate change. The frequency of these wildfires affects the seasonal resources of Indigenous people because the land’s vegetation is delayed, which reduces its suitability for reindeer grazing and creates inconsistency in resources.

As the Arctic continues to warm, some natural resources are increasingly accessible. The Arctic is home to vast deposits of minerals like phosphate, diamonds, and gold. These minerals are exceptionally economically valuable; companies and countries race to obtain these resources. However, this extraction race frequently and unjustly does not include the input from Indigenous people, leading to the growing conversation about “green colonialism” and centering human rights while addressing climate change.

Green colonialism” occurs when a developed country, company, or organization achieves green benefits by exploiting developing countries’ health, labor, and land or climate-sensitive communities. In turn, communities become increasingly climate-sensitive as their livelihoods depend on those resources. The Arctic warming and subsequent opening trigger cascading impacts for Indigenous people who seek to reconcile their livelihoods in a changing climate without sacrificing fundamental human rights. To address “green colonialism,” it must first be acknowledged.

At COP26, Indigenous people are jointly working with organizations and countries to implement mitigation and adaptation efforts that recognize indigenous knowledge and rights.

On November 11th in the Green Zone, Dr. Martin Lee Mueller hosted Being Salmon, Being Human, which dived into the relationship of humans and their wild and domesticated animal companions. And on November 12th, Minga Indígena will be featuring thirteen elders and protectors to share wisdom on the need to mitigate the effects of climate change. At the end of this event, Minga Indígena Declaration Letter for COP26 Leaders, Indigenous youth will read a letter to the IPCC and COP26 Presidency to request their inclusion in climate negotiations.