According to Minority Rights Group International
’s State of the World’s Minorities 2008
, not only are ethnic, religious, and cultural minorities and indigenous groups suffering disproportionately from the effects of climate change, they are also less likely to benefit from humanitarian relief and more likely to be harmed by certain efforts to combat climate change
. The report draws attention to the fact that the plight of minorities is often neglected in the international community’s discussions of climate change.
Frequently residing on marginal land, minority and indigenous groups also tend to be directly dependent on natural resources for their livelihoods, and therefore are more vulnerable to changes in the environment. Some efforts to mitigate climate change—particularly increasing the production and use of biofuels—have forced minority and indigenous communities off their land. For example, as of 2005, more than 90 percent of the land planted with oil palms in Colombia had belonged to Afro-Columbians.
The report also asserts that certain humanitarian relief efforts have been deliberately discriminatory, noting the slow pace of relief to the Dalits (members of the lowest Hindu caste) after last year’s floods in India. Minority and indigenous communities will continue to be at risk until policymakers seriously address these issues.