The Global Indigenous Movement to Fight Climate Change
The natural resources that Indigenous peoples depend on are inextricably linked to their identities, cultures and livelihoods. Even relatively small changes in temperature or rainfall can make their lands more susceptible to rising sea levels, droughts and forest fires. As the climate crisis escalates, activists fighting to protect what remain of the world’s forests are at risk of being persecuted by their governments — and even at risk of death.
For decades Indigenous activists have been sounding the alarm. But their warnings have too often been ignored. So, they organized.
Indigenous peoples and communities, working in the Americas, Indonesia and Africa joined forces and together became the Global Alliance of Territorial Communities. They work to protect their rights and territories, amounting to nearly 3.5 million square miles of land across the planet.
Working across multiple languages and political and legal systems, the alliance settled on five priorities: land rights, free prior and informed consent before any intervention into their territories, direct access to climate funding, protection of people from violence and prosecution, and the recognition of traditional knowledge in the fight to defend the planet.
In September, members of the alliance and their allies visited New York to meet with policymakers and donors during Climate Week, which brings together international leaders to push for global climate action.
They harnessed the power of speaking as a united voice, describing promises made by governments and international bodies that have failed to materialize into action. They explained how even though money to fight climate change so often doesn’t reach them, they have managed to develop programs that are helping communities mitigate and adapt to a changing climate. Imagine what could be possible with more funding and support.
Camila Falquez is a photographer and visual artist living in New York. Isvett Verde is a staff editor in Opinion.