How Indigenous Women Are Changing Game Of Climate Action At COP28

This year's COP held in Dubai saw the largest delegation of Indigenous people, especially women. Indigenous women lead panels and debates to discuss ways in which the community can inclusively address climate change.

Tanya Savkoor
New Update
indigenous women at cop 28

Célia Xakriabá; Image: Time For Better

Indigenous women took centre stage at the sought-after United Nations' climate conference, COP28, to lead dialogues of communities that are most affected by climate change but less addressed at such global summits. Indigenous people gathered in large numbers at the COP28 in Dubai to ideate and discuss solutions to tackle the rapidly changing climate. They also talked about the methodologies in their culture which they have been following for years to sustain the life of all species on earth. The COP28 aimed to collaborate with Indigenous communities to devise more inclusivity in climate solutions.


This year, the 28th United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC/ COP) saw the largest delegation of Indigenous people and leaders, with close over 100 representatives, according to Amazon Watch. The organisation partnered with the indigenous community to mobilise their inclusion in crucial conversations.

Indigenous Women At COP28

Sonia Guajajara, Brazil's Minister of Indigenous Peoples, was the first-ever Indigenous speaker to address delegates at a COP summit. She emphasised the importance of including indigenous communities in discussions on climate. "We are only 5% of the world's population, but 82% of the biodiversity protected in the world is within indigenous territories," she said, as reported by the Presidency of Brazil. 

indigenous people cop28
Image: Estevam Rafael 

"It was the first time that we had indigenous people participating directly in a dialogue with the negotiators from Brazil. We were able to create and announce an international commission made up of all the bodies that already exist in the indigenous debate at the COP... So, we are also creating this structured space to train indigenous negotiators. This is also a significant benefit for us," Guajajara said.

Guajajara proposed the creation of a technical committee on climate change with the permanent representation of Indigenous communities. The COP30 which is to be held in Brazil will initiate more such aims to integrate the perspectives of Indigenous people, she said.


The Planet Caucus initiative was introduced by Brazil's Federal Deputy Celia Xakriabá to spearhead parliamentarians in defence of the climate, biodiversity, and the rights of Indigenous peoples and traditional communities. The Amazon Watch reported that an event at COP28 with ANMIGA (Association of Ancestral Indigenous Women Warriors of Brazil) honoured and celebrated Indigenous women’s leadership in climate action from COP 28-30. 

Ancestral Solutions By Indigenous People 

For centuries, Indigenous peoples have inhabited diverse ecosystems, from forests to tundras, deserts to oceans. Their age-old practices have sustained environments, often serving as models for coexisting with nature. They are not merely anecdotal practices passed down from generations, but intricate scientific knowledge of local flora, fauna, and weather patterns.

Briseida Iglesias from Panama was also a delegate at the COP and shared some of such deep understanding she holds on climate. The Associated Press reported that Iglesias leads a women-led movement, Bundorgan Women Network, which came up with a way to cultivate eucalyptus plants to tackle rising sea levels. She said that her ancestral knowledge of growing the plant proved to reduce soil salinity.


Dipayan Dey from Bangladesh shared their solution to seas encroaching farmland. Dey, who is the chairman of the South Asian Forum for Environment (SAFE), said that the organisation facilitates farmers to use float farms and rafts to grow organic agricultural products. The idea was adopted from farmers in Sunderbans and Cambodia, she said.

float farms
Float farms | Image: Get Bengal

From India, Gujarat's Jasumatiben Jethabai Parmar shared her experience of using a safer alternative to chemical pesticides. She said that they use 'Jeevamutra' a natural medicine made from neem leaves, cow urine and chickpea flour. “We have presented to the Indian delegation to propose our solution to other developing countries, these have been solutions for us for centuries and can be relevant more than ever now due to climate change,” she said.

Indigenous leaders call for meaningful engagement between international organisations and their communities, to develop climate strategies that are inclusive and respect traditional knowledge. “There is a need to get women from the Indigenous communities on the negotiation table because we have the solution and we are already implementing it on the ground,” Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, a Chadian environmental activist said.

The holistic understanding of nature and unwavering advocacy from Indigenous people serve as a driving force in the fight against climate change. Their presence at COP28 serves as a reminder climate change is a feminist issue, as they not only advocate for scientific action but also address social and economic inequalities while respecting Indigenous sovereignty and self-determination.

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