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Late last week, more than 70,000 delegates from nearly every nation in the world met in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, to begin a two-week climate conference known as the Conference of Parties, or COP28.

On the first day of the conference, world nations approved an initial draft of a Loss and Damages Fund, where richer countries will pay towards a fund that can be accessed by developing countries that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change. The United States committed $17.5 million to the fund, the United Arab Emirates committed $100 million, Germany committed $100 million, Japan committed $10 million, and the United Kingdom about $50 million to the fund and close to $38 million for other arrangements.

Leaders are still deciding how the funding mechanisms for the Loss and Damages Fund will operate.

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Indigenous Youth activist Pema Wangmo Lama Mugum, representing the National Indigenous Women's Federation of Nepal, read an opening statement on Nov. 30, on behalf of the Indigenous Peoples' Caucus.

“We demand for a meaningful process, including direct access to the fund, for Indigenous Peoples,” Wangmo Lama Mugum said of the Loss and Damages Fund. “Indigenous Peoples are facing increasing disasters in our homelands as states fail in their commitment to limit temperature rising to 1.5 degree Celsius. In 2023, this cap was exceeded, threatening our ways of life in Asia and around the world.”

According to NDN Collective Southwest Regional Director Janene Yazzie, who is on the ground in Dubai, international funds often operate under a model that prioritizes donor countries.

“In this way, it serves neocolonialism over and over again to the detriment of the intended beneficiaries,” she said in a statement. “This is a way for them to influence political power under the guise of offering help and aid when what we really need is for resources to flow in a way that upholds the rights and self-determination of Indigenous Peoples.”

One of the priorities Indigenous People, smaller countries, and underfunded countries have been advocating for is a formal body to handle disputes when injustices occur– a Grievance Mechanism. 

“By putting pressure on environmental regulations and on political governance systems in a way that allows transnational companies to come in to manipulate and monopolize development, expanding their corporate empire, is why we need safeguards in place that protect Indigenous Peoples’ rights,” Yazzie said in a statement. “These larger settler countries rely on entities like the World Bank and the IMF to serve as intermediaries that uphold these agendas. At NDN, we are showing how transformative an Indigenous-led and designed movement organization can be.” 

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About The Author
Jenna Kunze
Author: Jenna KunzeEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Senior Reporter
Jenna Kunze is a staff reporter covering Indian health, the environment and breaking news for Native News Online. She is also the lead reporter on stories related to Indian boarding schools and repatriation. Her bylines have appeared in The Arctic Sounder, High Country News, Indian Country Today, Tribal Business News, Smithsonian Magazine, Elle and Anchorage Daily News. Kunze is based in New York.