Indigenous peoples are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change because they depend on their immediate environments for their subsistence. Their cultural practices and their livelihoods are so intertwined with the seasons and contours of their surroundings. Their cultural and economic rights, therefore, are threatened by uncertainties precipitated by changing weather patterns and catastrophic events such as typhoons, floods and droughts.
Their knowledge of the local terrain, however, makes them invaluable partners in addressing climate change adaptation and even mitigation since they can provide advise on the viability of new technologies and practices that are to be introduced to their communities.
The experience of Latin America, cited in the Philosophy Manual: A South-South Perspective, records the disastrous effects caused by the colonial and neo-colonial impositions of foreign governments and multinational corporations that do not actually participate in the daily lives of the people from whom the natural resources are extracted.
The exemplary leadership of Chico Mendes was cited in his efforts to institutionalize “extractive reserves” managed by indigenous peoples. Indigenous peoples in many parts of the Amazon rainforests use the natural resources of these forests in such a way that it can support the current and future needs of the native populations in a sustainble way.
Questions for discussion:
- Can you identify indigenous peoples in your region and indicate how they benefit or are displaced from their environments?
- How can extractive reserves support the livelihood of indigenous populations in a sustainable way?
© UNESCO, Philosophy Manual: A South-South Perspective (Paris, 2014), p. 231.