The cruel irony is while indigenous peoples across the globe have done little to contribute to climate change, these communities are disproportionately impacted by the climate crisis and are often most affected.
Throughout history, indigenous communities have lived holistically with the natural environment, well accustomed to environmental change with generations of shared adaptation and coping knowledge. Although Indigenous Peoples only own, occupy and use 25% of the world’s surface area, they safeguard 80% of the world’s remaining biodiversity- protecting and supporting these communities is vitally important to tackling the climate crisis.
Current environmental change is more rapid, extreme and intense than ever beyond, and indigenous communities all across the globe are feeling the effects. The identity of Indigenous Peoples is intimately linked to their land, which is predominantly located at the ecological margins of human habitation, such as small islands and desert margins. At the margins, climate change is affecting agriculture, fishing and access to water as well as contributing to indirect threats to health, and cultural disturbances.
With climate change responses anchored in western scientific understandings, indigenous communities and indigenous knowledge is often excluded from decision-making. Designed without the contribution of indigenous peoples, programmes such as the REDD initiative (which aimed to tackle deforestation) have actually diminished the resilience of indigenous communities by weakening the land rights of indigenous people.