Indigenous Peoples Teach Us to Take Care of the Planet

 Indigenous Peoples Teach Us to Take Care of the Planet

Nature-based solutions (NBSs) are strategies particularly suited to natural contexts. They are useful to face the climate change emergency but, above all, as they are driven by a strong desire to care and safeguard the territory, the indigenous representatives at COP26 explain.   

By Simone Predelli | YPA Italy

What are NBSs? How are they implemented in a context like Amazon? What is the role of indigenous peoples and what is the role of Western states?

NBSs serve two goals: the preservation of natural heritage and the solution of a social problem. In this article I will focus on tools to fight climate change and the important role that the Amazon plays in achieving this goal. I will do this through the words of some indigenous Amazon representatives who participate at COP26 because, as inhabitants of the territory under analysis, they play a central role.

During the event “Indigenous Territories of the Amazon: community and nature based climate solutions” held at COP26 on 4 November, what emerged is that the indigenous people represented believe that it is essential to emphasize that they are not unaware of the responsibilities related to the devastation of their territory, on the contrary, they condemn the exploitation of resources by the Western world that has led to this disastrous climate situation. However, their attitude remains proactive and they keep working to generate solutions that allow the safeguard of the place where they live. 

What they are asking for is very clear: they want to be at the center of this transformation and demand that the States that are responsible for the current emergency situation, both from the climatic and the socio-economic point of view, provide them with the necessary funds to fulfill it. Quoting them, the Amazon rainforest has an inherent conservation “vocation” of global relevance, however, the decision of how to follow this vocation is up to those who inhabit and deeply know this territory.

When talking about climate change, the indigenous delegation at the COP often speaks of a revolution in terms of way of thinking, pointing out how the Western world is too detached from nature, especially from the spiritual point of view. Representatives of indigenous peoples say that they see the forest as their chance for life and that they treat it with the right care and respect. For this reason, when talking about NBSs in an indigenous context, we talk about developing a sustainable economy within communities and building a control and safeguard network that allow indigenous peoples to take care of the place where they live and ensure that it is not abused.

To accomplish this task, indigenous peoples have created the R.I.A. (REDD+ Indigenous Amazon) initiative, which includes REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation, a climate finance tool) and the Amazon Indigenous Network, a pre-existing project. Their main objective is to reduce carbon emissions through the adjustment of public policies to the Amazon context, strengthening the territory. This is done through a process tailored to the territory, based on the one hand on the development of a sustainable economy (experiential travel for tourists, piscigranja, forestry, marketing of some products) and, on the other hand, on a surveillance service for the territory that ensures its protection. The project has had a lot of adhesions, bringing together indigenous communities from Peru, Ecuador, Colombia and Brazil. In each place, the implementation of different NBS projects is carried out according to specific and contextual needs, but there are common ideals that help bringing a strong and unique voice to the western community.

In any case, NBSs are fundamental to the creation of a system that succeeds in preserving the Amazon. Even more important is that, behind every project, there is the aim of taking care of the land because of its intrinsic value, not only for mere utilitarianism. Those who inhabit the Amazon territories know this well and are willing to get their hands dirty, from our side we need to make sure that they are in the  position to act.

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