Indigenous Peoples & Climate Change


Indigenous Peoples & Climate Change

Living closer to the land and sea, Indigenous peoples are hit hard by dramatic changes in climate. Their ancient practices and wisdom, however, are crucial in mitigating the impacts of climate change.

What is it?

Indigenous peoples and local communities have historically participated very little in the global dialogue around the causes and consequences of climate change and in the formulation of strategies to address them. Many of these communities, however, are ‘expert witnesses’ with regard to the impacts of climate change, and their knowledge of biological and agricultural systems offers important insight into how landscapes adapt to dramatic change.

Why is it important?

Humans have persevered through climatic cycles in the past thanks to their ability to adapt; their skill to domesticate and co-evolve with plant and animal species; and their nurturing of agrobiodiversity.

An important defense against the shocks brought on by a changing climate is the maintenance of biocultural diversity, and the Indigenous and local stewards of that diversity need to play a significant role in humanity’s response to the current climate crisis. In order to do so, Indigenous representation must be secured in global and national climate policy debates, and native communities must be recognized and consulted as experts in climate monitoring and management processes.

How is The Christensen Fund involved?

While we do not fund projects with a specific focus on climate change, in our Global Program we work to ensure that the international discourse on biocultural rights (including rights related to land, territory, culture, language, livelihoods, sovereignty, self-determination and/or development), includes the knowledge, views and authentic representation and participation of Indigenous Peoples and local communities. For many of these communities, climate change mitigation and adaptation is a top priority. For a descriptive account of our past work in this area, read Indigenous Peoples and Climate Change: From Recognition to Rule of Law.