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Pay special attention to indigenous communities, ACC tells governments

24 June 2022

Kay Roxby/Alamy Live News

A child from an indigenous community in Ecuador sings a song during the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, in November

A child from an indigenous community in Ecuador sings a song during the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, in November

THE Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) has urged governments, especially in the global North, to fulfil climate-change commitments, paying special attention to indigenous communities, young people, and women.

In a submission to the UN Human Rights Council published earlier this month, the ACC states that these groups are particularly vulnerable. “Evidence from across the Anglican Communion establishes the significance and necessity of lifting up Indigenous communities, whose way of life and very survival are threatened by the climate emergency; young people, facing the fallout of decisions made by past generations; and women, who are disproportionately affected by the consequences of climate change across all population groups.”

During the Council’s 50th session, which began on 13 June and ends on 8 July, a panel is to discuss the adverse effect of climate change on human rights. The Communion has consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the UN through the ACC, which is represented by Jack Palmer-White. He works with the Lambeth Conference, Primates’ Meeting, and the Archbishop of Canterbury, to forward concerns.

On indigenous communities, the ACC writes: “Their deep-rooted connection to land and natural resources means that climate change threatens their very culture and way of life. . . While indigenous voices are increasingly being recognised in climate discussions, their ability to participate meaningfully in and influence decision-making remains limited.”

On young people, it continues: “Research suggests that ‘climate anxiety’ and ‘climate grief’ experienced among young people require specific mental health support. . . If genuine solutions to the climate crisis are to be achieved, the voices, experiences and ambitions of young people must be at the heart of the climate decision-making process.”

Women were 14 times more likely to die from climate-related disasters than men, the submission says. Indigenous women, women of colour, and women living in poverty were particularly vulnerable, owing to the knock-on effects of access to stable housing, health care, education, sustainable livelihoods, safety, and security.

The ACC makes eight recommendations to UN member states, UN agencies, and civil society. These include recognising and listening to faith groups concerning planning and funding; ensuring that all environmental and climate-related interventions are inclusive of women; implementing policies to support indigenous rights; investing in local responses and resilience building; and fulfilling financial commitments to the climate crisis.

The ACC acknowledges that Anglicans contribute to both the problem and the solution. “Anglicans face devastation in disaster-stricken communities but are also the polluters in wealthy countries. We are living in poverty and on the margins, including Indigenous peoples, but also wield power and political influence. We are investors with financial capital, first responders to disasters, and those who accompany communities on the journey of recovery.

“As a global community, Anglicans . . . can leverage their networks and shared identity to mobilise for action.”

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