The first climate agreement focusing on Indigenous perspectives continues to gain international support after the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues urged its member states to adopt the agreement in its final report which was released last month.

Known as the Escazú Agreement, the plan was a recurring topic throughout the permanent forum’s 21st session, and its side events, in April and May in New York City, in which government, tribal, and community leaders discussed vital issues affecting Indigenous populations throughout the world.

“The Escazú Agreement is the first instrument that includes provisions on the protection of human rights defenders in environmental matters,” the report states.

The permanent form’s annual session is considered the world’s largest gathering of Indigenous leaders and the final report provides expert advice and recommendations on Indigenous issues to the U.N. system through the economic and social council.

The council is then expected to make recommendations to the U.N. General Assembly, member states and other agencies. It’s considered a vital instrument for disseminating information about Indigenous people on an international level.

The permanent forum’s newly elected Chair Darío José Mejía Montalvo, Zenú, talked about the agreement during his opening remarks on the first day of the session.

“Recall that in combating climate change, Indigenous people are mainstays,” Montalvo said. “This is not a fashion, not motivated by needs and trends on social networks, it’s our way of life. We value and respect all efforts to protect the planet.

“Our existence dates from before the existence of borders,” he said.

He went on to explain the significance of the Escazú Agreement, then urged those states that have not yet subscribed to the agreement to adopt it and for those that have to implement it faster.

According to environmental defenders like Patricia Gualinga the most effective way to protect rainforests, like the Amazon, is by protecting the rights and sovereignty of Indigenous people and the Escazú Agreement could potentially be a powerful mechanism in doing that.

Read the full article about Indigenous wisdom on climate change by Carina Dominguez at Grist.