Indigenous people are vanishing from the world - Seeker's Thoughts

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Indigenous people are vanishing from the world

The large majority of languages spoken by indigenous peoples are in danger. It is estimated that every two weeks, one indigenous language disappears, placing at risk respective indigenous cultures and knowledge system.

Who are indigenous people?

People who inhabited a land before it was conquered by colonial societies and who consider themselves distinct from societies currently governing those territories are called indigenous peoples.

About 370 million indigenous people in the world, spread across 90 countries. They live in all geographic regions and represent different cultures.

Every year on 9th august world indigenous people day has been observed with an aim to promoted and protect rights of the indigenous population. UN General Assembly (UNGA) had adopted resolution (A/RES/71/178) on ‘rights of indigenous peoples. Proclaiming 2019 as the international year of indigenous languages.

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In 2019 the theme was ‘indigenous languages’. UN draw attention critical loss of indigenous and urgent need to preserve promote and revitalize them at both national and international levels.

Indigenous people created and speak an overwhelming majority of the world’s 7,000 languages.


Why indigenous people are vulnerable?

While making up less than 5% of the world’s population, indigenous people account for 15% of the poorest. 
They are more likely to suffer from malnutrition and often lack adequate social protection and economic resources.
The international community recognizes that special measures are required to protect their rights and maintain their distinct cultures.

The life expectancy of these people is as much 20 years lower than that of their non-indigenous counterparts. Often lacking adequate healthcare and information. They are more likely to get diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis, HIV AIDS.

More than one in three indigenous women are sexually assaulted during their lifetime, and they also have higher rates of maternal mortality, teen pregnancy, and sexually transmitted diseases.

Climate Change and Indigenous people

Rising temperature, rising sea levels and unpredictable weather hit indigenous peoples from Amazon to the highlands of Myanmar dramatically.

Indigenous people often live in our world’s most biodiversity-rich areas, rely on the existing ecosystem and depend on nature. But widespread changes in our climate disrupt indigenous people way of living and damage their livelihoods.
Many indigenous people are being forced to relocate as their traditional lands become uninhabitable due to climate change.

Extreme weather and rising sea levels pose a direct threat to indigenous people’s lives and societies. Some mitigation measures may also have undesirable direct and indirect consequences for indigenous communities.

Renewable energy projects and climate action plans are sometimes developed without including or consulting indigenous peoples. The lands of indigenous people are seen as fertile ground for the establishment of biofuel plantations, wind power projects, and hydroelectric dams.

How are they part of the Paris Agreement and the Global Goals?

In 2015 the Paris Agreement was adopted as a global action plan to avoid climate change. Indigenous peoples are mentioned in the Paris Agreement.

In COP21 – the UN climate change conference that took place in France in 2015 – it was decided to establish a knowledge-sharing platform on climate action for indigenous people.

In 2016, UN member states agreed on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development with the ambition of “leaving no one behind” IWGIA sees the international commitments as a window of opportunity for truly including the knowledge, experiences, and rights of indigenous peoples in climate actions.

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Indigenous peoples are some of the most affected by climate change. It is therefore extremely important that the Paris Agreement recognizes the rights of indigenous peoples in its preamble and that indigenous communities are included in relevant processes. This page collects some of the most important facts, publications, and videos featuring the connection between climate change and indigenous peoples.


Indigenous people losing their land rights
Indigenous people worldwide share connectedness with nature. The culture and identity of indigenous people are rooted in their land. Losing it means a loss of identity.

Therefore indigenous peoples have long stood at the frontline of resistance against land grabbing caused by for example deforestation; mineral, oil, and gas extraction; and the expansion of plantations, national parks, agribusiness, dams, and infrastructure.

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By uniting and organizing themselves, indigenous peoples are protecting their territories from the influx of businesses, settlers, and other dominant or armed groups. 

However, indigenous peoples’ resistance has in many cases been answered with brutality and even murder.

How indigenous people’s rights and their culture can be protected?

Indigenous people can’t choose their own way of life, get control over their own education, healthcare and so on, unless their lands are secure. That’s the overwhelming priority. Without land, indigenous peoples have no livelihood, no identity, and no means of survival. In this context, countries need to respect the principle of free, prior and informed consent.

Indigenous people need to consult about the use of their land and included in development processes. Indigenous peoples’ key role in conservation which is often one of the reasons used for their eviction needs to be recognized. Indigenous peoples’ dependence on the land for food, shelter, identity, and survival has resulted in a deep respect for that land and need to conserve it.

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