Inclusion does not ensure that Indigenous peoples’ knowledge and interests are taken into account

Paper art of earth globe populated with paper figures.

In processes of global governance, it is highly important to be inclusive and allow all concerned groups to make contributions. However, inclusion in itself does not necessarily say anything about whether or not it is possible for groups to meaningfully influence important decisions. In an article published in Environmental Sociology, Gothenburg-based Jonas Bertilsson and CESSS-affiliated Linda Soneryd explore the tensions that arise between inclusion and effective participation in global governance processes.

The focus of the study was a policy aimed to ensure inclusion of Indigenous peoples in the decisions by the Green Climate Fund, a powerful international body in global climate governance. The Green Climate Fund is the world’s largest fund dedicated to supporting developing countries with reducing their greenhouse gas emissions and enhancing their ability to respond to climate change. In their investigation, Bertilsson and Soneryd distinguished between simple inclusion and a deeper recognition of Indigenous peoples' contributions, known as epistemic belonging. They used documents containing funding proposal discussions and decisions to shed light on the issues raised by Indigenous’ peoples and whether these issues influenced the final decisions. They also explored how contributions from different actors were valued by the Green Climate Fund, as well as how this influenced the degree to which Indigenous peoples’ inclusion was valued and whether their participation was effective.

The study revealed that Indigenous peoples’ contributions in global governance processes were valued as long as they did not challenge other important values. Bertilsson and Soneryd problematize these findings and discuss how this becomes an obstacle that might prevent Indigenous peoples from influencing climate finance governance in a meaningful way.

Bertilsson, J., & Soneryd, L. (2023). Indigenous peoples and inclusion in the green climate fund. Environmental Sociology. Read the full article here.


Image by Freepik.