Leading the Way: Indigenous Peoples’ Global Summit on Climate Change

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Colonos is involved in preparing a concept paper, which will be presented at the “Indigenous Peoples’ Global Summit on Climate Change” at the Dena’ina Center in Anchorage, Alaska (USA), 20-24 April 2009. It concerns the categorisation and organisation of contents well as a licensing framework for a web portal providing access to climate change adaptation strategies and tactics based on indigenous knowledge practices and captured in the spirit of the practitioners, whether in moving pictures, still, song or poetry. Not an easy conceptual task on a rather politically volatile and culturally sensitive terrain. However, we thought (something like) “better us than someone with less of a strong political analysis and feeling of solidarity and spirit of rebellion” (just to blow our own horn, perhaps?!).

One of the central challenges is spelled out in this quote from the Introduction to a Special Issue of Futures: Futures of Indigenous Knowledges. Volume 41, Issue 1, Pages 1-66 (February 2009):

“[T]he future for [Indigenous Knowledges] IKs lies in the creation of a knowledge space for assembling diverse knowledges. The critical strategic capacity to allow the comparative evaluation and growth of diverse knowledge traditions with differing epistemologies and ontologies, with differing ways of understanding and framing the world, may be humanity’s last hope for a future. .. But … is it possible for IKs to be moved from their site of cultural production, enter the knowledge economy and become part of the global knowledge commons without losing their cultural specificity, without being homogenised and submerged in one globalised system?” (Turnbull 2009)

We can reveal that the concept paper recommends the Transmission Metadata Standard, links to IFIWatch.TV, and draws upon the experiences of the Free Culture movement, more specifically the Free Software movement’s strategies and tactics for the reform of copyright. More on that later…

Meanwhile, here is the invitation to the Indigenous Peoples’ Global Summit on Climate Change:

Indigenous peoples from all regions of the world depend upon the natural environment. Their rich and detailed traditional knowledge reflects and embodies a cultural and spiritual relationship with the land, ocean and w ildlife. However, human activity is changing the world’s climate and altering the natural environment to which Indigenous Peoples are so closely attached and on which they so heavily rely.

In a very real sense, therefore, Indigenous Peoples are on the front lines of climate change. They observe climate and environmental changes first-hand and use traditional knowledge and survival skills to adapt to these changes as they occur. Moreover, they must do so at a time when their cultures and livelihoods are already undergoing significant changes due, in part, to the accelerated development of natural resources from their traditional territories stimulated by trade liberalization and globalization.

Reflecting their position as “stewards” of the environment and drawing upon their age-old traditional knowledge – the heart of their cultural resilience – Indigenous Peoples were among the first groups to call upon national governments, transnational corporations and civil society to do more to protect the Earth and human society from climate change. The Indigenous Peoples’ Global Summit will bring together 200-300 indigenous participants and observers from around the world to pursue four key objectives:

1. Consolidate, share and draw lessons from the views and experiences of Indigenous Peoples around the world on the impacts and effects of climate change on their ways of life and their natu ral environment, including responses;

2. Raise the visibility, participation and role of Indigenous Peoples in local, national, regional and international processes in formulating strategies and partnerships that engage local communities and other stakeholders to respond to the impacts of climate change;

3. Analyze, discuss and promote public awareness of the impacts and consequences of programs and proposals for climate change mitigation and adaptation, and assess proposed “solutions” to climate change from the perspective of Indigenous Peoples; and

4. Advocate effective strategies and solutions in response to climate change from the perspective of the cultures, world views, and traditional knowledge of Indigenous Peoples, including local, national, regional and international rights-based approaches.

For further information, please contact:

Patricia Cochran

Chair, Inuit Circumpolar Council

Anchorage, Alaska, USA

pcochran@aknsc.org

Steering C ommittee members:
• Patricia Cochran (Chair, Inuit Circumpolar Council, Anchorage, Alaska)
• Victoria Tauli-Corpuz (Chair, UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, the Philippines)
• Tarcila Rivera Zea (Executive Director, Chirapaq-Centro de Culturas Indigenas del Peru)
• Andrea Carmen (Executive Director, International Indian Treaty Council)
• Joseph Ole Simel (National Coordinator, Mainyoito Pastoralist Integrated Development Organization, Masai, Kenya)
• Cletus Springer (Director, Dept. of Sustainable Development, Organization of American States)
• Ben Namakin (Program Manager Environmental Education & Awareness Program Conservation Society of Pohnpei (CSP)
Contact: info@indigenoussummit.com
Registration: www.indigenoussummit.com

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