Indigenous peoples make up less than 5% of the world’s population, but protect over 80% of our global biodiversity.
As part of 350.org’s approach to reducing fossil fuel consumption and protecting our planet, they call for solutions that are centred in traditional knowledge and indigenous leadership.
The combination of climate change and land degradation has far reaching consequences that hit the most vulnerable the hardest, impacting food systems, biodiversity and land that many are so strongly tied to. Many indigenous communities around the World are facing the loss of sacred country, culture and rights to make decisions that affect their land.
In our era of modern technology, we have to be cautious – false solutions to the climate crisis, such as large scale development of carbon capture or the production of energy using biomass – might end up reducing arable land at a time when the combined impacts of climate change and land degradation is already having an impact.
In order to truly tackle the climate crisis, the leadership of indigenous communities is key. The traditional practices that have preserved land and biodiversity for so long, are crucial in forming solutions that do not further feed the chain of vulnerability. Aboriginals are a part of the oldest continuing cultures in the World, and have lived in harmony with their land for generations. By example, the fact the Amazon ecosystems are as rich as they are today is proof of how successful the culture of the Amazonian people has been in living in balance with the environment and acting as guardians of their traditional territories.
Our indigenous communities continue to protect places that help sustain not only their own communities, but the rest of the world – all the while being disproportionately affected by climate change and constantly fighting off invaders and governments. Despite their invaluable contribution to our planet, little has been done to reduce the growing external threats to their ancestral territory.
Around the world, indigenous peoples have been displaced from their traditional territories in the name of eco-tourism and conversation. Communities have had to abandon their livelihoods and ancestral lands for large scale developments and more recently, have become climate refugees.
Across the world 350.org teams have stood together with indigenous and aboriginal people in their fight against governments and corporations. In these communities, it is their land which holds them together as people, and as they have faced these challenges much of the wider community has stood with them. Now, as our collective understanding of the state of our planet grows, the global discourse and actions are shifting toward a greater acknowledgement of the role of indigenous peoples, local communities and their traditional territories in biodiversity conservation and climate change resilience.
Indigenous peoples have mastered the art of living on Earth without destroying it. In Namibia, the recognition of community based natural resource management has resulted in over 100 conservancies and community forests, while some animal populations have been restored and living conditions for local people continue to improve. In Canada, the Indigenous Guardianship Programme demonstrated an advance of national biodiversity conservation. Bison we’re reintroduced by the Kainai Nation and traditional 800 year old Hawaiin fishing ponds have been restored. It’s becoming increasingly clear that the future of our planet lies in indigenous ways of living on the Earth. As a global community, we have forgotten what it means to have a relationship with the land.