I would like to begin by acknowledging the Ohlone and Coast Miwak Peoples on whose ancestral lands we now gather.
Indigenous peoples and governments don’t have a great history. But we are rewriting history so that we have a bright future together.
It hasn’t always been easy, but earlier this week, we took a big step forward. On Monday, a global coalition of indigenous peoples, local communities, and subnational governments came together to agree on guiding principles for collaboration. And it began with these two points:
● “We recognize and respect indigenous peoples’ and local communities’ rights in relation to their lands, territories, culture, self-determination and governance…”
● “We recognize the historic contribution of indigenous peoples and local communities to the maintenance of forest stocks and the environmental services those forests provide to society as a whole….”
Let me repeat that – “we recognize” and “we respect.” This is so important.
So how did this happen? Well, the Governors’ Climate and Forests Task Force voted overwhelmingly for a new way of working with indigenous peoples. For beginning to implement this recognition and respect by taking this important step forward.
We began this week with a dinner – an opportunity for friendship and learning, of experiencing indigenous foods from Indonesia and words of solidarity from the Amazon Basin, Mesoamerica, Africa, California, and elsewhere.
I want to acknowledge my extended family here, my fellow 'Guardians of the Forest' – from COICA, AMPB, APIB, AMAN, and the Yurok Tribe, and from our subnational governmental companions – we sat and enjoyed each other’s company.
Now that this new partnership is solidified, we need to take it to the next level. Now we need to do the even harder and more important work. We need to take it off of paper, and make it reality. And that is our collective challenge and opportunity. We have the platform, we have the political will – on all sides – and we need to continue moving forward together.
The ONLY way forward is to work together.
If Not Us Then Who? If Not Now Then When?
Kurre Sumanga. Terima Kasih. Thank you.
San Francisco, California, 14 September 2018