Kiwi climate activists are using their expertise to make sure Maori voices are heard loud and clear by top brass at the UN COP26 Summit in Glasgow.
They have been collaborating with other indigenous representatives to advocate for those at the forefront of the climate emergency and to ensure that they are properly supported and protected.
This includes putting the Waitangi Tribunal in the limelight of the world stage as a way to support other indigenous peoples around the world.
This week, young Maori activist India Logan-Riley told delegates that the roots of the global climate crisis “ are in colonialism and that indigenous peoples are now leading the way in climate action. ”
Lina Torres, from the Latin American social action group Movilizatorio, said that indigenous communities are not yet receiving the investment they deserve.
“We have a study that shows all the [UN’s] REDD investments in forest protection, only one percent actually reached the communities, so that shows the magnitude of the problem. “
Not only this, their lives were also in danger.
“Unfortunately, the murder rate for environmental defenders is incredibly high,” he said.
Torres has been collaborating with OpinioNative’s leading indigenous law, human rights and environmental consultancy Alison Anitawaru Cole, and others, to develop case studies to better support these communities.
Cole believed that a model like Te Tiriti or Waitangi would help facilitate a better investment for those on the front line.
“As a Maori person, I know there are challenges and criticisms of the Waitangi Tribunal, but in terms of what we can constructively bring to the conversation, it is an example of using the law as a mechanism, as a means of channeling support. direct financing to indigenous communities, without State intervention. “
Students for Climate Solutions co-founder and law student Phoebe Nikolaou said Aotearoa had a real opportunity to stand out and share her experience with the Waitangi Court.
“It is so unique and so powerful and I think it can really make a difference in negotiations.
“Don’t just add them [indigenous peoples] in the language of the treaties, but adding real safeguards and real mechanisms that work and we know they work. “
Cole personally delivered them to COP26 President Alok Sharma.
“I chased him when he was leaving one of our indigenous committee meetings and I have the photograph to prove it because I wanted to send it to the investigators at home, because we are really trying to get these reports directly into the hands of the negotiators.”
Advocates said they were among the lucky few who were able to attend the summit due to the barriers indigenous communities face due to Covid-19 and the cost.
Even once they were there, Alison Anitawaru Cole said that making their voices heard was far from easy in an environment so separate from their community in Ōhawe.
“I am constantly sending messages and connecting with my cousins and doing that translation process and it is colonialism and patriarchy written in capital letters, all that translation is put on my shoulders,” he said.
Since she and others have traveled to the other side of the world to be at this summit, she held out hope that world leaders can at least meet them halfway.