“Oftentimes people ask Indigenous people what they do for climate change,” said Belisario. "I think, being Indigenous, that’s what their life is all about: being connected to the land and working to produce their food and working to protect their community and their land.
In some ways, COP27 has been a gathering of Indigenous peoples, said Belisario. “They see this as a very important platform where they can speak about what’s happening in their communities because their communities are the ones most affected by climate change,” he said.
Belisario believes the dialogue at COP depends on government leaders truly listening to the voices of Indigenous people.
“We cannot do that if we just let them do the talking and negotiating,” he said. “We need to be here engaged with them.”
Indigenous people need to push for accountability because they are most affected by climate change, pointed out Belisario. “It’s not the corporations or the government officials—it is us,” he said. “That’s why we need to show up and come together and go to COP because even after the COP, it is us who do the work of going to the communities and doing the organizing.”
Belisario often sees workers, women, and youth become marginalized because of an over-consumptive society. “It is because the world is addicted to producing so much, on getting as much land, as much money and profit,” he said. “It really is a structural, systematic challenge for all of us.”
Fighting for climate justice means fighting for the Indigenous people’s way of life, their knowledge, their right to land, and their self-determination, said Belisario. “Their life is connected to the land,” he said. "Without the land, they cannot exist as Indigenous people. I think this is what we have been missing, or looking beyond or not addressing: how we should treat the earth not just as a living source of materials that we utilize but as a living being that is there to better our lives in general, and if we take care of it, it will take care of us.”
Belisario finds hope at COP27 as he discovers he is not alone in fighting for climate justice. “This is not just our experience,” he said. “It’s a global experience.”
The struggle of Indigenous people is a shared struggle, he reflected. “There is hope because we have a lot of friends and allies around the world.”