According to Amnesty International, there are about 370 million indigenous people in the world spread across over 90 countries, representing about 5% of the world’s population.
Indigenous peoples have an intimate relationship with the land on which they live on and as such, possess crucial knowledge about how to sustainably manage natural resources, acting as custodians of the land for the next generation.
Indigenous communities also practice diverse traditions which highlight and preserve their social, cultural, economic, and political characteristics.
However, despite the diversity in the customs and cultures of these indigenous communities, they seem to face the same harsh realities today: the impacts of climate change which are wide and immediate.
This is because indigenous communities, which mostly comprise farmers, hunters, fishers, wild harvesters, and herders, depend on ecological abundance for their economic, social, and cultural well-being.
This makes them especially vulnerable to the effects of extreme weather events like floods, droughts, heatwaves, and wildfires.
Because indigenous communities are deeply connected with the environment and have deep knowledge of environmental cycles by virtue of their culture, it makes them powerful actors in the fight against climate change.
It then becomes necessary for indigenous communities to be at the center of climate action discussions, and for governments to build the capacity of these people through dialogues and gatherings so as to develop community-driven plans for climate action in order to prepare for and respond to the impacts of climate change as well as foster a network of indigenous climate activists.
These gatherings and conversations could be designed to highlight the importance of ecological knowledge held by these indigenous communities and their rights and values in creating climate solutions.
In some indigenous communities around the world, having deep-rooted indigenous knowledge has significantly helped in developing measures to cope with the climate crisis.
For instance, water-harvesting strategies and weather forecasting are used in the Sahel region to cope with local-level environmental changes.
Indeed, indigenous communities play a vital role in ecosystem preservation and are therefore useful in the development of climate resilience projects.
By promoting and supporting their participation in public policies, strategies, and other decision-making aspects that are related to the climate, the aim to mitigate climate change will be achieved as indigenous communities have been occupants of these ecosystems for centuries and as such, have expert knowledge about environmental cycles and processes.
It, therefore, becomes imperative that, in the fight against climate change, governments begin to collaborate with indigenous communities if any headway must be made.