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Indigenous Peoples Recommend Transportation Solutions

MADRE partner Lucy Mulenkei, Executive Director of the Indigenous Information Network (IIN), is participating at the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) meeting this week and next at the UN. This letter is a response to the Thematic Cluster on Transport by Indigenous Peoples.


United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development
18th session
May 3rd- 14th 2010
United Nations Headquarters, New York
Thematic Cluster on Transport

Indigenous Peoples Comments 

Mr. Chairperson, 

We thank you for the opportunity to make our contributions to this debate on the thematic cluster on Transport. We also extend our thanks to the panelists for their very incisive and valuable presentations. 

Mr. Chairperson, Indigenous Peoples recognize the need to protect Indigenous-economies of hunting, fishing, farming and gathering by using renewable energy technology. We also need to protect our food sources by reducing pollution in wind, water, and land.

Mr. Chairperson, automobiles contribute greatly to pollution. More than 96% of the energy presently used in transportation comes from oil and the transportation sector consumes about two-thirds of all petroleum used. Studies have shown that between 23%-28% of Greenhouse Gases (GHG) emissions are produced in transportation and the transport sector. The GHG emissions from this sector are also the most difficult to capture and store.

These economic, environmental, and social issues call attention to the urgent need for a coordinated transportation system that creates a more sustainable world. For example, Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEV) have more efficient electric motors because there is no combustion when idling. 

Governments can encourage the private sector to work with indigenous communities in compliance with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) for the installation and operation of the PHEV Charging Station Networks. Governments can promote Indigenous Networks of PHEV Charging Stations powered by renewable energy to enable drivers to convert from gas-powered vehicles to electric vehicles. Private sector involvement and participation in this area would facilitate financing and the equipping of indigenous peoples to participate fully in sustainable economic development.

We look forward to developing and implementing Indigenous Networks of PHEV Charging Stations.

We have heard since yesterday the comments from the panelist, Mr. Lago and others on the issue of biofuel productions. Biofuels remains a controversial alternative energy production issues for Indigenous Peoples. Whilst we appreciate the position of the panelists, their presentations have not addressed the impacts and challenges Indigenous Peoples continue to face with biofuel productions, such as land grabbing, food insecurity, biodiversity and specie extinction, poverty and hunger in our territories. The stories about biofuels remain saddening. From Brazil to Paraguay, Ethiopia to Ghana, Indonesia etc, the stories from Indigenous Peoples remain tellingly cheerless.

Mr. Chairperson, we urge that more discussion and studies still need to be done in relation to the issue of biofuels.

The discussion has so far focused on rail, air and road transport. As indigenous peoples and communities, some of which live in coastal areas and marine environments, we would need more emphasis on the development of communal and rural coastal and marine transport systems. We think in this area, we can also contribute by sharing our local Indigenous but low-carbon means of coastal transportation which has been used for millennia.

We appreciate the statement of one of the delegations yesterday on the issue of sustainability and affordability especially on the fact that most people go for what is affordable and not what is sustainable for example in the purchase of fairly used cars far and against the issue of sustainability and contributions to climate change. We wonder if this issue of affordability is responsible for the construction of poor quality roads which are seen in most areas of that region. 

Mr. Chairperson, once again, we thank you for the opportunity and welcome your consideration of our comments and recommendations as well as other practical solutions to transportation issues.