Culture-based solutions: Indigenous responses to biodiversity challenges

Culture-based solutions: Indigenous responses to biodiversity challenges

To share and amplify local and indigenous experiences in caring for biodiversity as the local to global process towards COP27, the UN climate conference in November 2022, Ecojesuit and River above Asia Oceania Ecclesial Network (RAOEN) are organizing Culture-based solutions: Indigenous responses to biodiversity challenges, a two-day virtual event on 20 and 21 April 2022.

The event provides a platform to share local and indigenous concerns ahead of the start of Part 2 of the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP15) in Kunming, China and the 21st Session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) in New York, USA. Day 1 (20 April) focuses on the Asia and Oceania regions and Day 2 (21 April) focuses on the Latin America and the Caribbean, South Asia, and Africa and the Madagascar regions.

Biodiversity loss in the past 50 years is unprecedented with resource extraction becoming more rampant. In its global assessment report on biodiversity and ecosystem services released in May 2019, the key messages of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) in the summary for policymakers are dire:

A. Nature and its vital contributions to people, which together embody biodiversity and ecosystem function and services, are deteriorating worldwide.

B. Direct and indirect drivers of change have accelerated during the past 50 years

C. Goals for conserving and sustainably using nature and achieving sustainability cannot be met by current trajectories, and goals for 2030 and beyond may only be achieved through transformative changes across economic, social, political, and technological factors

D. Nature can be conserved, restored, and used sustainably while other global societal goals are simultaneously met through urgent and concerted efforts fostering transformative change

Particularly for indigenous communities, the IPBES report states:

 “D5. Recognizing the knowledge, innovations, practices, institutions and values of indigenous peoples and local communities, and ensuring their inclusion and participation in environmental governance, often enhances their quality of life and the conservation, restoration and sustainable use of nature, which is relevant to broader society. Governance, including customary institutions and management systems and co-management regimes that involve indigenous peoples and local communities, can be an effective way to safeguard nature and its contributions to people by incorporating locally attuned management systems and indigenous and local knowledge. The positive contributions of indigenous peoples and local communities to sustainability can be facilitated through national recognition of land tenure, access and resource rights in accordance with national legislation, the application of free, prior and informed consent, and improved collaboration, fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use, and co-management arrangements with local communities.”

Indigenous communities have a vital role in protecting biodiversity and ecosystems through their cultural values, practices, and spiritual relationships with the land and territories. However, Indigenous Peoples’ rights continue to be threatened by commercial pressures.

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) also released the Living Planet Report 2020: Bending the Curve of Biodiversity Loss, outlining “humanity’s increasing destruction of nature and its catastrophic impacts not only on wildlife populations but also on human health and all aspects of our lives.” The report shared the continuous decline of the Living Planet Index, an “average 68% decrease in population sizes of mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, and fish between 1970 and 2016.” The report also noted that “until 1970, humanity’s Ecological Footprint was smaller than the Earth’s rate of regeneration. To feed and fuel our 21st century lifestyles, we are overusing the Earth’s biocapacity by at least 56%.”

The impacts of climate change further exacerbate these challenges. In the global climate talks, nature-based solutions (NbS) is often the phrase used as a means to alleviate the global crises. However, NbS are not necessarily culture-based as these can be understood as mainly technological approaches. Culture-based solutions are the true nature-based solutions, primarily rooted in indigenous practices that naturally care for the land, forests, water, and biodiversity being in sync with ecological services.

It is critical that the concerns of indigenous communities and their vital role in caring for biodiversity are heard in global discussions and COP15 in China and the 21st Session of the UNPFII in New York City are opportunities to bring these concerns forward from a faith-based standpoint.

Joining the Ecojesuit and RAOEN event are: Jason Menaling (Apu Palamguwan Cultural Education Center in Bendum, Upper Pulangi, Bukidnon, Philippines ), Petero Qaloibau (Sisi Initiative Site Support Group in the Island of Vanua Levu, north of Fiji), Samantha Kuman (Centre for Environmental Law and Community Rights in Papua New Guinea), Carlos Bresciani SJ (Solidarity and Indigenous Apostolate Network in Mapuche Territory, Chile), Dr. Ashok Alur (Centre for Excellence for Farmer Producer Organizations in India), and Micomyiza Dieudonn’e (Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflections in Lusaka, Zambia) to share grounded experiences in relation to local concerns and biodiversity challenges.

To join the event Culture-based Solutions: Indigenous Responses to Biodiversity Challenges, please register through this link.

The two-day event will be livestreamed in the Ecojesuit Facebook page.

Day 1 will be held on 20 April, Wednesday, 3:00 pm Manila (8:00 am London, 10:00 am Nairobi, 12:00 pm Mumbai, 5:00 pm Sydney, 7:00 pm Fiji).

Day 2 will be held on 21 April, Thursday, 8:00 pm Manila (7:00 am Lima, 8:00 am New York, 9:00 am Rio de Janeiro, 1:00 pm London, 3:00 pm Nairobi, 5:00 pm Mumbai, 10:00 pm Sydney).

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