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Hawaiian Cultural Charter School Demonstrates Food Sustainability

Kua o ka ‘La ——— the syllables roll off the tongue as only the Hawaiian language can, like the white crested waves  rolling up the black sand volcanic beaches. Literally  it means  “back of the sun”. This unique event occurred  within the sound of the surf where the school depends on the sun! This environmental…

Changing With the Land: The Skolt Sámi’s Path to Climate Change Resilience

This photo essay offers a glimpse of the challenges that climate change presents for indigenous and local communities in northern Europe. An Arctic people of northern Finland whose livelihoods depend largely on their environment, the Skolt Sámi are searching for ways to remain resilient in the face of climate change. _____________________________________________________________________________ The land around Rautujärvi…

Energy Innovation and Traditional Knowledge

By Kirsty Galloway McLean Widespread heatwaves. Spiking temperatures. Uncontrollable wildfires. Unforeseen floods. Oppressive droughts. These kinds of extreme events are becoming the norm and, according to a growing body of scientific literature, are obvious signs of ongoing climate change. This literature includes the “State of the Climate in 2011” report released by the United States’ National…

Land Use, Climate Change Adaptation, and Indigenous Peoples

By Kirsty Galloway McLean For indigenous peoples, resilience is rooted in traditional knowledge, as their capacity to adapt to environmental change is based first and foremost on in-depth understanding of the land. As climate change increasingly impacts indigenous landscapes, communities are responding and adapting in unique ways. In a recent statement to the Conference of…

International Society of Ethnobiology Supports Biological and Cultural Diversity at Rio+20 and Beyond

  The International Society of Ethnobiology (ISE) made news at the Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development this summer. Introduced to almost 700 governments, businesses, civil society groups, and universities was the “Montpellier Statement,” delivered by Helene Mandrous, the Mayor of Montpellier, France. The statement was developed at ISE’s 13th Biannual Congress held earlier this…

Do REDD Trees Make Forest Green?

Deforestation, especially of tropical forests, makes up 18 percent of annual global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions — more emissions than the entire global transportation sector. The 2007 Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) emphasized that reducing deforestation would be the most significant and immediate way to begin reducing global levels of…

Indigenous Message to Rio+20: Leave Everything Beneath Mother Earth

  An indigenous caravan is bringing to the Rio+20 conference the philosophy of “buen vivir” – “living well” in harmony with nature – as a solution to the world’s environmental and economic crises. Indigenous leaders from all over South America are making their way by foot, canoe and eventually on buses to be part of…

A Gathering of Wayfinders of the Pacific

National Geographic’s 2012 Explorers’ Symposium ended yesterday.  It was a mind-bending, week-long exploration fest.  Yet, despite the most daring and innovative presentations illustrating the technology and development of the metropolitan world (and there were many), I couldn’t help but reflect on the brilliance of native cultures from the world’s most remote regions. Consider this: before…

Eliminate GDP and “Economic Growth” to Create the Real Green Economy, Indigenous Peoples Say

The planet is in peril, 3,000 scientists and other experts concluded at the recent Planet Under Pressure conference in London. Climate change, overuse of nitrogen and loss of biodiversity are just three of the perils threatening to make much of our home uninhabitable. World leaders will meet in Rio de Janeiro June 20-22 to address…

Traditional Slash and Burn Agriculture Sustainable Solution to Climate Change

Climate change is the result of not behaving in the right way, according to the isolated Trio, an indigenous people living in Suriname’s Amazon forest near its border with Brazil. “They see climate change as big problem. They say their forests are changing, deteriorating,” said Gwendolyn Smith, a project director for the non-profit organization Amazon Conservation…

Indigenous Peoples Can Show the Path to Low-Carbon Living If Their Land Rights Are Recognized

  Many indigenous peoples are living examples of societies thriving with sustainable, low-carbon lifestyles. Successfully meeting the global climate change challenge requires that much of the world shift from high carbon-living to low. This shift is daunting. Current emissions for Australia and the United States average about 20 tonnes of carbon dioxide per person. In…

REDD: The New Beast in the Forest Brings Hope and Threats to Indigenous Peoples

“REDD is the new beast in the forest,” said Patrick Anderson of the Forest Peoples Programme in Indonesia here at Climate Change Mitigation with Local Communities and Indigenous peoples workshop in Cairns, Australia. Deforestation gobbles up an area the size of Greece (13 million hectares) every year. As if that loss wasn’t bad enough, it…

‘Abriculture’ Using Forests to Feed Indigenous Peoples and Fight Climate Change

Forests can not only suck climate-heating carbon out of the atmosphere, they are also an important source of food for many Indigenous peoples. “Western food is making our people sick. Our bodies are adapted to eating bush foods,” said Seith Fourmile of the Gimuy-Walubarra Yidinji Nation of Cairns. Australia’s Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander peoples…

Indigenous Peoples Needed to Meet the Challenge of Climate Change

  “Planning is not part of our culture. You just get up in the morning and do what you need to do for the day,” said Marilyn Wallace of the Kuku Nyungka ‘mob’ (aboriginal nation) in northern Queensland, Australia. “Bama,” people caring for their local territory, is an important part of aboriginal culture and identity,…

The Key to Addressing Climate Change – Indigenous Knowledge

We have the knowledge that can contribute to finding solutions to the crisis of climate change. But if you’re not prepared to listen, how can we communicate this to you? — Marcos Terena, Xané leader, Brazil. The precipitous rise in the world’s human population and humankind’s ever-increasing dependence on fossil fuel-based ways of living have…