Why climate diplomacy should rely more on indigenous people?

Climate crises disproportionately impact indigenous people. Traditionally relying on lands and natural resources, these communities inhabit regions vulnerable to extreme weather events like heatwaves, droughts, and thawing permafrost.

Despite contributing little to global emissions, they are at the forefront of climate-related challenges. Indigenous peoples have developed sustainable lifestyles, protected ecosystems, and adapted to environmental changes for generations. However, colonisation, land dispossession, and forced migration have led to loss of rights, poverty, and vulnerability.

Indigenous people possess vital knowledge for sustainable climate adaptation from their traditions, values, and practices. Around 6% of the global population, nearly 500 million people, are part of indigenous groups, stewarding over a quarter of the world’s lands and 80% of remaining biodiversity.

Indigenous knowledge, including traditional ecological knowledge, offers a holistic understanding of stewardship and the environment. Representatives of indigenous peoples can co-create dialogues and partnerships for climate resilience as critical aspects of climate diplomacy.

In addition, preserving indigenous ecological knowledge, requires involvement of youth who can combine indigenous and modern knowledge. Currently, discrimination and forced assimilation have disrupted knowledge transmission. Without written memory, indigenous ecological knowledge may disappear to the detriment of all of humanity.

Read more in Nature