Dear Cultural Survival community,
Today the world is facing multiple crises. Human activity is changing the world’s climate in extraordinary and sometimes irreversible ways, causing biodiversity loss that is unprecedented in human history. We hear Elders in our communities talk about how our ecosystems were so different just a few generations ago. The world they describe seems so far from the world we know today. This issue of the CSQ is dedicated to uplifting the voices of Indigenous leaders who have been working diligently to defend the rights of nature and the rights of Indigenous Peoples, demanding urgent action for biodiversity protection and climate change mitigation and adaptation— sometimes at great risk to their own lives.
Biodiversity loss and climate change emergencies are closely interlinked; in fact, climate change is now one of the main causes of biodiversity loss. Scientists have identified that the burning of fossil fuels, unsustainable diets, urbanization, changes in land use, and overexploitation of species are to blame for these crises. Yet, governments around the world continue to fail to take action at devising and implementing real policy reforms that would help the planet survive. Instead, they continue to assure us that markets will solve the very problems they have created.
Indigenous Peoples continue to hold sustainable relationships with our Mother Earth and have so much to offer to solve these crises. The brilliance of Indigenous solutions comes from the direct relationships we have held with nature for millennia. Yet, Indigenous Peoples continue to be denied a seat at the table. As Elder Vyacheslav Shadrin (Yukagir) said last December in Montreal, “the voices of Indigenous Peoples are the voice of nature.” If we are to solve these crises, we must listen to the voice of Indigenous Peoples.
The world needs to move away from anthropocentric solutions. Government leaders are focused on the viability of the human species. But what about the four-legged, the winged, and those who roam the oceans? Who will advocate for them? Who is willing to stand in the way of total destruction of their ecosystems, their homes?
In spite of all the challenges, Indigenous Peoples of the world continue to use their Traditional Knowledge to heal the land and to make innovations for biodiversity protection and climate change mitigation. Indigenous Peoples understand that we must protect our Mother Earth. Everything from our food, medicines, and clothing to our cultures and languages, our stories, and even our joy, depends on this relationship, and we will do everything in our power to protect her.
Global conventions and agreements will not solve the challenges the world faces on its own. However, they do provide a platform to shift the consciousness of mainstream society and are an opportunity to show policymakers how Indigenousled solutions are working on the ground. Cultural Survival’s delegation to COP27 in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, and to CBD COP15 in Montreal, Canada, witnessed the diligent work of Indigenous leaders at these global platforms. We express our gratitude to them and to the global Indigenous movement. We are committed to this fight, however long it takes.
Our work relies on your financial support. Please renew your commitment to supporting Indigenous Peoples’ rights so we can ensure they are fully respected, protected, and fulfilled. Thank you for your solidarity and support.
Galina Angarova (Buryat)