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70m Avaaz members urge immediate measures against global wildfire crisis

…..Advocates empowerment of indigenous people to protect biodiversity

By Samuel Ogunsona

Avaaz, a global online movement of 70 million members around the world has urged the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) to take immediate actions to stem the global wildfire crisis.

The group also underline the need to empower indigenous people to conserve biodiversity.

A press release signed by it Campaign Manager, Oscar Soria, monitored by Irohinodua on Thursday expressed concern over wildfires and its impact on biodiversity conservation.

At the ongoing 7th GEF assembly taking place this week in Vancouver, Canada, the organization said the urgency to address the escalating global wildfire crisis and advocating for financial support to empower the indigenous people in the role of conserving biodiversity should be topmost.

Avaaz sees significance in the urgent call as GEF only meets once in every four years and the Assembly will convene only once more before the 2030 deadline for implementing the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework targets.

Oscar Soria, said in other to confront the crisis ahead, it is time to recognize the importance of indigenous knowledge and practices.

He said, “The time for half-measures has passed; now is the moment to confront this crisis head-on. Recognizing the vital significance of indigenous knowledge and practices”

“Avaaz calling on the Assembly for robust and direct financial support to empower Indigenous peoples in their critical roles and efforts

“The GEF, responsible for supporting developing countries in meeting objectives of multiple conventions, must rise to this moment of urgency. As fires continue to engulf vast swathes of ecosystems, the GEF must prioritize indigenous-led ecosystem and fire management strategies and provide the necessary financial resources to empower Indigenous Peoples to continue protecting our planet”. He added.

“The GEF’s mandate to align efforts across conventions is now more critical than ever. From the Convention on Biological Diversity to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification, and the Minamata Convention on Mercury, the GEF must ensure that indigenous knowledge and practices are at the heart of all programming decisions. Only by fully integrating indigenous-led strategies can we hope to address the escalating environmental crises.”

“Indigenous communities, with their generations of land stewardship and fire management expertise, hold the key to preventing catastrophic wildfires. Yet, despite their unparalleled understanding, they continue to be underfunded and overlooked”

“The fires in Canada’s British Columbia and around the world serve as stark reminders of the urgency of this matter. Human lives and livelihoods are being lost or endangered, ecosystems are being decimated, wildlife habitats destroyed, and cultural heritage threatened. These wildfires are not isolated incidents but represent a global catastrophe that demands a united response.” He said.

However, Avaaz has requested the 7th GEF assembly to take measures on the following;

  • Direct indigenous involvement in policy making,

-To establish rapid-response mechanism to address emerging wildfire crises, allowing Indigenous peoples to take the lead in managing and mitigating disasters.

  • Enforce private sector accountability for wildfire prevention, in particular agribusiness and commodities sectors, recognizing the critical role Indigenous-led efforts play in protecting our planet.
  • Allocate immediate financial resources to empower Indigenous Peoples to execute effective forest management practices, a key measure to prevent and tackle wildfires. These communities are on the frontlines, and their expertise must be harnessed to prevent further devastation.

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