Listen and Learn from Indigenous Voices
It is 2021, and the interest in environmentalism is gaining traction. People are involving themselves more and more in the climate crisis conversation and want to learn how to help.
The community of people concerned with the climate crisis is diverse, and this diversity is crucial to recognise. Unfortunately, I find western media biased in the voices it chooses to amplify and the messages it chooses to promote. Too often we celebrate our political leaders for their minimal contributions to fighting the climate crisis and minimise the protests of indigenous voices (of which there are many) to be heard. Indigenous knowledge of the world is largely ignored even though it holds many solutions to the situation we find ourselves in.
“The wisdom we hold is based on living in harmony with nature. We know how to keep the balance of nature”
Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim – Why Including Indigenous People Is Vital To Solving the Climate Crisis
It is widely recognised that those who will be, and are being, most affected by the climate crisis are indigenous peoples and less privileged communities. Many indigenous peoples are already being driven out of their native homes by rising sea levels, forest fires and other environmental issues associated with climate change.
Indigenous communities such as those in the Amazon are involved with protecting the forests and waters that are important for carbon offsetting. Forest loss is still happening with over 21,000 hectares of Brazillian Amazon forests lost in 2020. Between 2010 to 2019, around 19.75×106 hectares of global cumulative forest area were lost to deforestation. Moreover, the Brazillian Amazon forests have been producing far more CO2 than they have been absorbing. It is extremely worrying, and many are concerned that there may soon be a point of no return.
In April of this year, a climate summit was held by US President Joe Biden. During the event, Brazil’s President, Jair Bolsonaro, pledged to double the budget for tackling environmental issues and end illegal deforestation by 2030. However, a day later, Brazils environmental agencies saw a 24% budget cut.
“Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon is not the result of a lack of money, but a consequence of the government’s deliberate failure of care.”
Marina Silva and Rubens Ricupero – Joe Biden’s billions won’t stop Bolsonaro destroying the Amazon rainforest
A study published last year estimated that approximately 36% of the worlds intact forests are within indigenous territories. Research has shown that local governance of these lands by indigenous communities has helped to protect the lands and slow rates of deforestation. Unfortunately, “Where loss of IFLs on Indigenous Peoples’ lands has already occurred, it has often not been with Indigenous Peoples’ consent but rather as a result of the lack of recognition of their rights, including land tenure” (cited). These forests are continually under threat and the communities under pressure from further development and farming due to a lack of formal recognition of indigenous peoples rights. It is vitally important that governance of these spaces and global policies are created alongside those communities that have spent centuries protecting the land.
“After five centuries of colonization, genocide, and land grabbing, indigenous Amazonians retain their ability to maintain a vast portion of the planet. They do so while confronting existential threats that put at risk their lives and the fate of the forests they see as inseparable from themselves.”
Sônia Guajajara – Want to Fight Climate Change? Support Indigenous Peoples.
We must listen to indigenous voices and we must restructure the conversation. Indigenous communities must play a central part in the fight against the climate crisis.
Below I will link to people who you can follow or listen to on various platforms.
Terri Hansen – Science and environmental journalist.
Danika Littlechild – Lawyer with a focus on indigenous rights and environmental law.
Suzanne Dhaliwal – Campaigner for indigenous rights and environmental issues.