Republished from Cultural Survival, December 13, 2023,

On December 13, 2023, Sarah Hanson (Biigtigong Nishnaabeg) from Indigenous Climate Action read the International Indigenous Peoples Forum on Climate Change (IIPFCC)'s closing statement at COP28.

Boozhoo Aaniin, Hello. My name is Sarah Hanson, an Anishinaabeg youth from Biigtigong Nishnaabeg on the north shore of Gichi Gami of Turtle Island, in what is colonially known as Canada.

Firstly, we would like to thank the COP presidency and all the parties that supported Indigenous Peoples this year and recognise our role as the guardians of our mother earth. In particular we thank the COP presidency for the dialogue with our caucus, especially with the Indigenous Youth.

Thank you for the compromised decision, but we would like to remind all of you that we CANNOT compromise for our mother earth, we CANNOT compromise with protecting ALL living beings, we must act respectfully and reciprocally for the very being that provides us ALL life.

Yes, in this COP, you see Indigenous Leaders and Indigenous Youth in every corner of the venue. We are indispensable to climate action and decisions at all levels but yet our rights and knowledge continue to be relegated to the sidelines in negotiations and established youth spaces. We are not here simply for your photo opportunities, we are rights holders under the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and must be at the decision-making table.

Why are we seeing greater numbers of Oil and Gas lobbyists included in closed door negotiations? These individuals outnumbered Indigenous delegates seven times over. They've been given a green light to continue developing our lands, in the name of green colonialism and false solutions. The just transition cannot be an excuse for the extraction of minerals on our lands. We will not allow our rights to be diminished, undermined, combined, or confused in any way.

Regardless of the power imbalances and lack of transparency in the negotiations, we remain committed to ensuring that our voices, our solutions, and our wisdom guide the development of an effective climate strategy. This includes keeping the 1.5 degree celsius target alive, and transformation from the colonial capitalist system that created this crisis and continues to commodify the sacred.

Empty pledges and promises cannot resolve the climate crisis. Our inherent collective rights, knowledge systems and participation have continued to be overlooked in the Global Stocktake and we are worried about the article 28 implementation including Article 6, Loss and Damage, Climate Finance, Just Transition and Adaptation texts adopted this morning.

We are frontline defenders, stewards and keepers of sacred relationships and knowledge necessary for a sustainable future. Our peoples have been sounding the alarms and science has finally caught up with what Indigenous Peoples have already known for generations, you must listen. Failing to do so, further puts Indigenous Peoples AND the world at extinction.

Our Indigenous knowledge, our ways of life and solutions will bring forward the future we all need. Our inherent wisdom and stewardship of Mother Earth, ARE the solution to the climate crisis and you know it. We were the first caretakers of this planet and we will continue to ensure she breathes properly, we simply hope you will join us.