Republished from Cultural Survival, December 7, 2023,
Press Contact: Leysha Caraballo, 980-255-0882,

100 Indigenous leaders and allies join letter directed at COP28 delegates to ensure Indigenous Peoples' rights are secured in the clean energy transition

Today, 100 Indigenous leaders, organizations, and allies from around the world released an open letter to COP28 delegates urging them to fight for policies that recognize Indigenous People's rights to consent to mining projects on their ancestral lands as mining expands during the ongoing clean energy transition.

The leaders signing the letter open their call to action by noting that Indigenous communities are among the global leaders in demanding climate action, highlighting Indigenous leadership in clean energy adaptation. However, the letter also makes clear that 54% of mineral deposits identified as needed in the energy transition globally are located on or near Indigenous Peoples' lands. The call to action by Indigenous leaders and groups demands the recognition and protection of Indigenous Peoples' rights to have a say in decisions about mining projects in these areas, specifically emphasizing the right to Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC), as outlined in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and the International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention 169.

"As we make the vital transition to clean energy, we cannot afford to duplicate the status quo that prioritizes oil, gas, and mining companies drilling and mining on our sacred ancestral lands at will. It is imperative that Indigenous communities around the globe participate meaningfully in decision-making and are able to exercise our right to give or withhold consent to these mining projects that impact our land, livelihoods, and cultures," said Galina Angarova (Buryat), Executive Director of Cultural Survival and Co-Chair of the Executive Committee of the Securing Indigenous Peoples' Rights in the Green Economy (SIRGE) Coalition. "As stewards of our land and our rich histories, we must have a seat at the table to ensure a just transition to clean energy that protects and respects Indigenous Peoples all over the world."

The letter notes that, historically, fossil fuel and mining companies have put profits first and mined in a way that trampled on human rights, exploited and abused workers and Indigenous Peoples, and contaminated local air and water – effectively destroying many impacted communities and cultures.

Emphasizing Indigenous voices, the letter asserts the need for Indigenous involvement from the initiation of any proposed mining project on ancestral lands, arguing that overlooking such voices perpetuates the status quo of the fossil fuel and mining industry. Participants of the letter emphasize that indigenous subsistence, cultural practices, and priorities must take center stage in negotiations, policies, and decision-making processes, with enhanced levels of engagement and transparency.

As the world looks towards COP28, Indigenous leaders are asserting their role as frontline advocates for climate action and clean energy. They state that COP28 is crucial for taking quick global actions to ensure Indigenous People's self-determination. This goes beyond politics, aiming for a more inclusive world that protects cultural heritage while simultaneously protecting the earth.

Below is an excerpt from the letter:

"We acknowledge and emphasize that it is more important than ever to transition to clean energy and clean transportation solutions, and away from fossil fuels such as oil, coal, and gas. Indigenous leaders have been calling for climate action around the world for decades. We have ancestral, cultural, and spiritual ties to our lands that not only require our participation in climate advocacy but also call us to commit to the proper stewardship practices of nature that are deeply rooted in our ways of life. Many Indigenous leaders are pursuing and championing clean energy and transportation solutions on their territories that align with their self-determined needs and goals. These Indigenous-led solutions need to be acknowledged, recognized, promoted, and funded by States and private entities.

While we are at the forefront of the fight for climate action and clean energy, our profound connection to our ancestral lands also puts us on the frontlines to ensure that these lands will not be sacrifice zones for those companies and politicians who seek a quick fix in the name of climate solutions. Our commitment to a just transition doesn't overshadow our firm stance against mining practices that occur without obtaining FPIC of Indigenous Peoples and can lead to displacement; migration; and livelihood, cultural, and language loss. We firmly assert that mining operations must adhere to responsible practices guided by the FPIC framework, which upholds the right to self-determination of Indigenous Peoples. We, Indigenous Peoples, hold an inherent and inalienable right to make decisions about the future of our lands, territories, and resources."

[The letter with] a full list of letter signers can be found here: