Recommendations for UN member state delegations to take action to enhance the participation of Indigenous Peoples organizations and civil society at COP26


At COP26, civil society organizations are facing serious difficulties in their efforts to participate in a meaningful way. Many thousands of people, particularly from the Global South, have been unable to participate in COP26 due to various barriers, including COVID-19 measures, visa restrictions and high travelling costs. This is despite the fact that many of these groups represent the voices of people directly affected by the climate emergency. Additionally, those who have reached Glasgow are faced with unexpected and unacceptable barriers to access the COP26 venue as well as negotiation rooms as observers.


On November 4th, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment, and Special Rapporteur on Hazardous Substances and Human Rights, sent an open letter to Alok Sharma that raises the reported issues of participation and urges the the COP26 Presidency to adopt urgent measures to increase access for Indigenous Peoples organizations and civil society. The letter can be read in its full length here. 


In light of the above, we are now calling on delegations to take immediate action to improve Indigenous Peoples and civil society participation at COP26. Here are some recommendations for how delegations may do so:



Engage with civil society organizations during COP26

  • Share and seek input to agreed draft conclusion text with Indigenous Peoples and civil society organizations 

  • Actively seek out opportunities for planned and ad hoc consultations with Indigenous Peoples organizations and civil society at the COP26 venue during negotiations, and take active steps to engage Global South observers in this.

  • In collaboration with on-site observers, convene online briefings for Indigenous Peoples and civil society representatives not participating physically at COP26.

  • Provide adequate access to meeting rooms to allow for representatives from Indigenous Peoples organisations and civil society to meet with national delegations. 

  • Ensure side events and other open activities are arranged in a hybrid format so that Indigenous Peoples, civil society representatives and others may participate from afar.

  • Prioritize attending and participating in civil society events at COP26.

  • Promote COP26 official briefings to civil society, including town halls, to hear their views.



Voice concerns and input from civil society in meetings 

  • Bring input from civil society organisations to meetings

  • Amplify the voice of civil society on social media platforms during COP26

  • Raise concerns of participation of non-parties towards parties and the COP Presidency in all meeting sessions. Particular steps that the COP Presidency can take, include:
    • Enhance access to meetings for observers
    • Open access to all zones of the venue for observers
    • Enhance access to meeting rooms for arranging meetings with delegations
    • Fix the COP26 platform and ensure its proper functioning 



Call for commitments on participation 

  • Lead by example and post about your current practices of CSO inclusion on government social media platforms, to inspire other member states

  • Introduce language on participation inadequacies e.g. to the Presidency summary 


This could include: 

  • Acknowledging with regret the participation difficulties faced by thousands of representatives for civil society at COP26 in the light of COVID-19.

  • Committing to develop additional mechanisms together with civil society groups that ensure full and meaningful onsite and online meaningful participation of Indigenous Peoples organizations and civil society in future UNFCCC meetings.

  • Committing to set up a fund that would facilitate the physical participation of Indigenous Peoples organizations to future UNFCCC meetings.

  • Underlining the need to adopt measures that guarantee full and meaningful participation of Indigenous Peoples organizations and civil society in future UNFCCC meetings.
  • The Action for Climate Empowerment (ACE) conclusions should enhance, complement and not diminish existing human rights protections reflected in international law and standards. States should carry out assessments of human rights impact of proposed measures, and such human rights impact assessments should be undertaken together with Indigenous Peoples organizations and civil society at a national level.




Sigrid Bjerre Andersen, Global Focus or Tel: 0045 5334 0646


Oli Henman, Action for Sustainable Development or Tel: 07803 169074