The Disproportionate Impact of Climate Change on Indigenous Communities

On a press release the International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA) a non-governmental human rights organisation defending Indigenous Peoples rights have expressed “deep concern” about the UNEP Global Emissions Report 2020. 

Reduction in emissions in 2020 relative to 2019 levels due to COVID-19 lockdowns. Source: UN

The document published on 9 December shows that despite the global COVID-19 pandemic, humanity is on pace to suffer a minimum 3-degree temperature rise by the end of the century. 

Indigenous Peoples are stewards of nature and have been ringing the alarm of climate change for decades. They need to be listened to in global climate action.


Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, representative of the Mbororo Indigenous People (Chad), has been watching the world’s inaction in desperation while her people have already been experiencing the devastating impacts of climate change.

Achuar man from the Peruvian Amazon

“Yet the world is not taking the necessary action. The Emissions Gap Report 2020 shows that the world is still heading towards 3 degrees. At this rate, my people and many other Indigenous Peoples will simply disappear.”

A representative of the Maasai Indigenous People (Tanzania), Gideon Sanago has many of the same fears. 

“Indigenous Peoples around the world are among the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Indigenous Peoples of Tanzania have lived since time immemorial in harmony with nature and have been depending on natural resources for food and medicinal use. As result of climate change impacts, Indigenous families have separated and most of the youth immigrated to the cities.

We face destruction of our cultural and social setup which leads to loss of identity, culture and extreme poverty. I therefore call upon all the governments to take immediate practical action and give life to the Paris Agreement as a cornerstone to tackle climate change.”

“Nature is sending us a clear alert. Temperature rise threatens the achievement of the Paris Agreement and the planet in general. 2020 will be known as a burning point for climate change and biodiversity. The COVID-19 pandemic is nothing in comparison to the crisis caused by the mistreated environment.” Rodion Sulyandziga, representative of the Udege Indigenous People of Russia, said.

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