Oceans Intervention – Feb 2013, Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals

Thank you, sir. My name is Imogen Ingram and I am from Island Sustainability Alliance CIS Inc. I speak on behalf of the Indigenous Peoples Major Group.

Speakers on yesterday afternoon’s panel spoke eloquently about major issues confronting Indigenous Peoples, particularly in the Amazon which are relevant to Indigenous peoples and we support a stand-alone SDG within a rights-based framework to deal with Oceans, Biodiversity and Forests. Yesterday, one speaker explained how in Iceland, a rights-based approach to fisheries has been in place since the early 1900’s. His view was that although it was a difficult process, it was achievable, and fair. We believe that such workable governance could be used as a guidance to resolve social and environmental issues impacting on Indigenous Peoples, in compliance with the principle of Prior Informed Consent.

In 2012, the UN Forum on Business and Human Rights under the Office of the High Commission on Human Rights commenced and in its Report A/68/279 it mentions that the objective is to 1 “identify gaps identified in implementation and challenges with regard to the State duty to protect against business-related human rights abuses, the corporate responsibility to respect human rights and the corresponding obligations relating to access to effective remedy”. This concerns many Indigenous Peoples who have been left with legacy contaminants in abandoned mines in their territories, as well as the pollutants from new mines, both artisanal and large-scale, which currently affect their drinking water and traditional foods. In our view, the Rio Principles of polluter pays should apply, and those who created the problem should pay to clean it up. Where those entities for legacy pollution have disappeared, the burden falls upon the State.

With regard to food sovereignty, it was the alarm raised by Indigenous Peoples of the Arctic that resulted in the Stockholm Convention, after biomonitoring results showed contamination of the human food web by Persistent Organic Pollutants produced many thousands of miles away,. With their dependence on seafoods, Arctic Peoples have again become aware of contamination by persistent toxic substances in their water and foods, with damaging effects on the health of their communities. The most cruel aspect is that they only contribute negligible amounts of these contaminants. And they may not leave their territories to which they are bound by culture and tenure.

A further issue discussed by expert panels yesterday was that forest lands of indigenous peoples are often taken for development, often resulting in displacement of those who have thousands of years of residence but no formal tenure over their territories. This development often takes the form of hydroelectric power projects, where the power generated is for the benefit of others far away. Again, Indigenous Peoples feel that a rights-based SDG would assist in the process of redress or avoidance of such alienation of their territories.

In conclusion, yesterday afternoon a question was asked about how to obtain data from widely dispersed Indigenous Peoples. We believe that data can come from Indigenous Peoples themselves, in cooperation with global monitoring agencies so that the information is presented in a suitable and useful manner.

Thank you sir.

1Report on Transnational Corporations to the 2nd UN Forum on Business and Human Rights

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