The Role of Indigenous Communities in the Climate Fight
The almost 476 million indigenous people in the world live today in areas covering 24% of all land worldwide, home to 80% of the world's biodiversity.
Historically, indigenous people have lived sustainably in harmony with nature, protecting natural and untouched areas that are vital to the health of our planet and civilisation. Although accustomed to environmental changes, indigenous people are suffering the rapid and extreme changes in climate with little time and resources to cope with this unnatural and man-made change.
Global initiatives, although driven by scientific knowledge, findings and evidence, they lack the perspective and historical wisdom from indigenous communities that have studied, learnt and used the mechanisms of nature to thrive and meet all their needs for centuries with little impact on the environment. Leaving indigenous people out of any environmental initiative or intersectional research, risks two things:
1. Putting at risk the Indigenous Communities that safe-guard the vital biodiversity of our planet.
2. The opportunity to leverage and benefit from the knowledge and wisdom from these communities to fight climate change, protect the natural world and adapt to the changing climate.
Therefore, part of the solution to our climate and social-environmental issues resides with indigenous people and their rights.
Indigenous Rights and Climate Change
For decades indigenous people have been battling to be seen not only as victims of climate change, but as climate leaders in potentially acting to protect the planet and the environment.
It wasn't until 2004, at the UNFCCC that they were recognised as a potential actor or 2015 when the Indigenous People's Centre for Documentation, Research and Information (DOCIP) highlighted again the obvious connection between climate change and the rights of indigenous peoples. Again in the Sixteenth Session of the UNPFII 2017 and COP21 2015, indigenous people declared vital to our understanding of the natural world and how we can live sustainably.
If the rights of indigenous people's are protected, that is their culture, way of living, well-being, their territory and their community, we may be tackling two issues at once. On one side we will be protecting the human rights of such a vital share of the world's population while at the same time allowing these communities to continue their conservational and protection efforts for the natural world. If their lands are protected and they are given rights over those territories, we will be working towards successful reduction in CO2 emissions, lower biodiversity loss, cleaner air, richer soil, healthier society and the achievement of SDGs such as 13, 14 and 15 all from just doing what is right and minimum, protecting the human rights of the real environmental conservationists, Indigenous People.
→ Sobrevila, 2008
→ IPS, 2017
→ Etchart, 2017
→ The World Bank 2020. Indigenous People