The IUCN Academy of Environmental Law series
Chapter 17: Legal strategies to expand indigenous governance in climate change adaptation
Concerns about the impact of climate change are triggering adaptation and mitigation responses. These responses implement concepts of governance that, among other issues and interests, reflect world-views about the function of law in governance. Notably absent from these developing governance frameworks – and, thus, the responses to climate change – is respect for indigenous rights in spite of the affirmation of such rights in international and domestic law. Indigenous people are involved in climate change governance because of three distinct roles: they are citizens within the general population; many are vulnerable citizens; and their indigenous status gives them additional interests and rights. Indigenous rights can exist within the domestic legal order of nation-states or be independent of (and to some degree supervene) nation-state sovereignty. This chapter considers literature from a range of disciplines, identifying the opportunities and barriers to empowering indigenous governance in the context of climate change. It begins with a critique of the concepts of adaptation and resilience relating to climate variability and climate change and the implications for sustainability governance. These themes are further explored through an analysis of international indigenous rights-based approaches, and the evolving approaches to indigenous self-determination.
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