'Mother Earth in climate crisis' say Indigenous people

May 12, 2009

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A statement by Indigenous representatives from around the world describes ‘Mother Earth (as) no longer in a period of climate change, but climate crisis.’

The statement, known as the Anchorage Declaration, was released after Indigenous people from the Arctic, North America, Asia, the Pacific, Latin America, Africa, the Caribbean and Russia met in Anchorage, Alaska for the ‘Indigenous Peoples’ Global Summit on Climate Change’.

‘We are deeply alarmed by the accelerating climate devastation brought about by unsustainable development,’ the Declaration says. ‘We are experiencing profound and disproportionate adverse impacts on our cultures, human and environmental health, human rights, well-being, traditional livelihoods, food systems and food sovereignty, local infrastructure, economic viability, and our very survival as Indigenous Peoples.
‘Mother Earth is no longer in a period of climate change, but in climate crisis. We therefore insist on an immediate end to the destruction and desecration of the elements of life.’

The Declaration lists fourteen specific calls for action. These include reducing levels of global carbon emissions; Indigenous participation in climate change debate; the recognition of Indigenous peoples’ rights in schemes to ‘Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation’ (REDD); the abandonment of ‘false solutions’ to climate change such as nuclear energy, ‘clean coal’ and agrofuels; the recognition by governments of Indigenous peoples’ rights; and the return and restoration of ‘lands, territories, waters, forests, sea ice and sacred sites’ taken from Indigenous peoples by governments in the past.

The Declaration ends with an offer to ‘share with humanity our traditional knowledge. . . relevant to climate change, provided our fundamental rights. . . are fully recognized and respected. We reiterate the urgent need for collective action.’

Read the Anchorage Declaration