By: Chris Arsenault
Date: September 1st 2016
Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation
RIO DE JANEIRO (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Countries will be unable to meet their climate change pledges unless they secure land rights for people living in the world's tropical forests, indigenous leaders told an international conference of regional governors meeting in Mexico.
Regional government officials from Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, Peru, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Spain and the United States met on Thursday in Guadalajara, Mexico, having pledged two years ago to reduce deforestation by 80 percent by 2020.
This goal can only be met if members of the Governors' Climate and Forests Task Force (GCF) provide secure land titles to indigenous groups who live in the forests, campaigners said.
"By establishing a direct relationship with the guardians who protect their forests, the governors can ensure their conservation strategies will actually work," said Cándido Mezua, of the Mesoamerican Alliance of Peoples and Forests (AMPB).
"They must listen to us because we are the ones who are putting our lives on the line to protect tropical forests in Mesoamerica, the Amazon and other regions," Mezua said in a statement released before Thursday's meeting.
More than 25 percent of the world's tropical forests are in GCF states and provinces.
Tropical deforestation accounts for about 15 percent of global climate changing carbon pollution, the GCF said in a statement.
Providing indigenous people with well-defined land rights is one of the most efficient ways for ensuring forest conservation, according to 2014 study of 14 developing countries by the World Resources Institute.
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