Sunday, April 19, 2009

Indigenous peoples at world summit to share climate change observations, coping techniques

EurekAlert: With the first climate change-related relocation of an Inuit village already underway, some 400 Indigenous People and observers from 80 nations are convening in Alaska for a UN-affiliated conference April 20-24 to discuss ways in which traditional knowledge can be used to both mitigate and adapt to climate change.

Hosted by the Inuit Circumpolar Council, the Indigenous Peoples' Global Summit on Climate Change is also designed to help strengthen the communities' participation in and articulate messages and recommendations to the December UN climate change conference in Copenhagen, at which a successor agreement to the Kyoto protocol will be negotiated. The Summit will conclude Fri. April 24 with a declaration and action plan, and a call for world governments to fully include Indigenous Peoples in any post-Kyoto climate change regime adopted in Copenhagen.

The Summit takes place in Anchorage, about 800 km east of the Alaskan village of Newtok, where intensifying river flow and melting permafrost are destroying homes and infrastructure, forcing 320 residents to relocate to a higher site 15 km west, at an expected financial cost in the tens of millions of dollars.

While the move will be financed in part with government funds that would have been spent maintaining the existing village and on periodic emergency evacuations, NGOs say the relocation of Newtok marks an Arctic milestone – the first official casualty among six Alaskan Inuit settlements in urgent need of relocation, including Shishmaref (pop. 560), Kivalina (pop. 377), where autumn storm waves are no longer contained by shore-fast ice, which used to form in September but in recent years has appeared only in December or even January. Dozens of similar settlements are considered threatened.

At the Summit, Indigenous Peoples from every world region will share observations and experiences of early impacts in their part of the planet, as well as traditional practices that could both ease climate change and help all humanity adapt to its anticipated consequences….

Map showing location of Newtok, Alaska,  Seth Ilys at en.wikipedia, Wikimedia Commons, under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2

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