From Local to Global: Indigenous Voices in Climate Dialogues


Amidst the diverse terrains of Guatemala, the Consejo de Mujeres Indígenas y Biodiversidad (CMIB), a platform of Indigenous women’s organizations focused on biodiversity and climate change, stands resilient. As a torchbearer for Indigenous women’s rights and voices, they’ve been weaving together the tapestries of grassroots experiences to echo in global forums like COP28.

“Our expectations are that the State of Guatemala remains committed to its agreements at COP28. In fact, the measures adopted to obtain financing for climate change should be allocated mostly to local actions, especially for vulnerable groups such as Indigenous women,” states CMIB. The crux lies in not just alleviating the impacts of climate change but also working on environmental sustainability strategy with emphasis on the sovereignty and food security of indigenous women who face the effects of climate change.

Having journeyed through the COP arenas twice, CMIB brought forth the haunting realities Indigenous women encounter daily. Migration, identity shifts, diseases, droughts – these aren’t mere statistics. They are lived experiences. Bringing these lived experiences together, their strategic alliances with regional Indigenous women’s groups are aimed to present a unified front in global spaces like COP28, amplifying the collective voice of those too often silenced.

However, the gap between these international climate deliberations and the grassroots movements is glaring and when it comes to the representation of Indigenous women in such global forums, the landscape remains bleak. “Global debates or international spaces where Indigenous women can participate are very limited. In these spaces, the States are the ones who have the voice and decision making power on new global policies on climate change issues, among others. Therefore, in many of these spaces, Indigenous women are not represented,” laments CMIB. To address this, they emphasize the significance of providing training opportunities for Indigenous women about global climate intricacies and negotiations, to understand and influence governmental decisions.

There is an urgent call for not just participation but meaningful engagement of Indigenous women’s groups in these dialogues. And if the doors of global forums like COP28 seem less welcoming, alternative pathways beckon. “The limitations are the lack of spaces for effective participation. It is complex to be part of the official State delegation. There is no access to dialogue on climate change. Therefore, it is necessary to seek strategic alliances in international spaces of Indigenous peoples who lead in global spaces on climate change issues, such as the International Indigenous Forum on Climate Change, Caucus Indigna…We believe that we must have national, regional and global strategic alliances to promote actions that allow equality and climate justice for Indigenous women,” the organization asserts.

While the limelight during COP28 may majorly be on state leaders and global policymakers, it’s imperative to remember the tireless endeavors of organizations like CMIB. Their mission, rooted in the experiences of Indigenous women, transcends the confines of COP and aims for a horizon where these women aren’t just participants but recognized as pivotal changemakers.

The Global Alliance for Green and Gender Action (GAGGA) will be present at COP28 with a delegation between November 30 to December 12, 2023. Join us at our side event “Gender Just Climate Policy & Finance: From Barriers to Actionable Solutions” on Sunday, 3 December, where we delve deep into themes central to this article. For collaboration opportunities and to learn more, please contact Noemi Grütter, GAGGA Co-Coordinator, Advocacy and Collaborations: n.grutter@fondocentroamericano.org. For additional insights around this article and Consejo de Mujeres Indígenas y Biodiversidad’s work and to connect directly, reach out to Violeta Quinteros at c.mujeresindigenas@gmail.com.


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