Negotiating climate justice at the subnational scale

Challenges and collaborations between indigenous peoples and subnational governments

Authored by: Colleen M. Scanlan Lyons , Maria DiGiano , Jason Gray , Javier Kinney , Magaly Medeiros , Francisca Oliveira de Lima Costa

Routledge Handbook of Climate Justice

Print publication date:  November  2018
Online publication date:  November  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138689350
eBook ISBN: 9781315537689
Adobe ISBN:


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The role of indigenous peoples has been a focal point of climate justice debates. Yet while indigenous communities’ role in climate change mitigation via stewardship of critical forested regions is increasingly recognised, broader forest conservation efforts often fail to address these communities’ particular histories, capacities, aspirations and needs. In this chapter, we explore how indigenous peoples and tribal authorities are joining with state and provincial governmental actors that are part of the Governors’ Climate and Forests Task Force (GCF) – the world’s largest subnational governmental network covering more than one-third of the world’s tropical forests. We focus on three cases and scales to showcase specific efforts to mitigate climate change, address structural and procedural inequalities and promote climate justice. At the global scale, we examine the GCF as a platform for negotiation and partnership between state and provincial governments and indigenous and local communities. At the regional scale, we analyse a state-level government-indigenous partnership in Acre, Brazil and its role in co-producing policies and benefit-sharing mechanisms. At a territorial scale, we explore how a Native American tribe required tribal land acquisition and cultural repatriation as part of their participation in a forestry offset program. Through these cases, written by indigenous leaders and their partners, we assert that subnational actors and actions are critical – and often overlooked – scales and spaces for negotiating key climate justice issues such as participation and representation, territorial rights and diverse (and oftentimes competing) visions of forest conservation and development. We assert that partnerships between subnational governments and indigenous peoples are valuable strategies for mitigating climate change and indicate a new direction for research into the political ecology of climate mitigation and climate justice.

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