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Commonwealth Secretary-General: Indigenous people key to inclusive climate action

12 October 2020

The Commonwealth Secretary-General has commended the invaluable contributions of indigenous peoples to the global fight against climate change, calling for more home-grown ‘regenerative’ solutions to be scaled up across the Commonwealth.

Climate solutions

On Indigenous Peoples Day, celebrated on 12 October, Secretary-General Patricia Scotland said:

“Approximately one-third of the world’s indigenous peoples live in the Commonwealth, across Asia, the Caribbean and Americas, Africa, the Pacific and Europe. Many of our indigenous communities live with the reality of being extremely vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, but at the same time, continue to be custodians of rich resources of wisdom and knowledge and are sources of inspiration as exemplars of sustainability.

“Indigenous cultures are built upon a profound respect for nature and a holistic understanding of how interconnected we are with the environment, whether through the ocean, land or atmosphere.

“We are extremely proud that through our Commonwealth Common Earth programme, we have been able to showcase the potential of indigenous knowledge to generate a remarkable and growing range of sustainable and practical climate solutions, in areas such as agriculture, natural resource management, weather prediction and biodiversity conservation.”

Regenerative practitioners

Examples include the Global Resilience Project by the Kalinago Indians in Dominica, which engages indigenous approaches to building infrastructure and farming that preserve and restore natural resources.

Similarly, in Guyana, the native Macushi tribe continue to promote their nature-based way of life, including through the work of the Iwokrama International Centre for Rainforest Conservation and Development, jointly founded by the Government of Guyana and the Commonwealth Secretariat.

In the Pacific, the climate-vulnerable nation of Kiribati has set out more than 400,000 square kilometres of ocean space as a protected area for conservation, as well as the deepest and largest World Heritage Site on earth, under the ‘Bring PIPA Home’ initiative.

In New Zealand’s largest city, Auckland, multiple partners under the Waiora Living Waters programme are working to regenerate the city’s harbours, streams and tributaries, partnering with indigenous Māori and regenerative practitioners.

The Secretary-General added that the issue of indigenous people and climate resilient development will be discussed by Commonwealth Heads of Government when they meet in June 2021, as part of a wider “Commonwealth Call for Action on Living Lands”.

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