Indigenous Voices Demand Climate Justice

April 25, 2008

Author: Jessica Lee

Source: The Indypendent

In the massive half-moon shaped United Nations conference auditorium filled with hundreds of individuals robed in colorful traditional clothing, jewerly and ceremonial items, a young female’s voice echoes from the center of the room.

“We indigenous peoples are emphatic in stating that those primarily responsible for climate change are the governments and companies of the industrialized world,” said Edith Bastidas, executive director of the Centro de Cooperación al Indígena in Bolivia, during a day of testimonies April 22. “[They] are encouraging a production and consumption model that is destroying the biodiversity and natural resources of our Mother Earth.”

More than 2,500 delegates have gathered in New York from April 21 to May 2 for the Seventh Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues to discuss not only how climate change is affecting indigenous populations from the Arctic to Oceania, but also to highlight that real solutions to the problem will come from these very communities. It is estimated that there are 300 to 500 million indigenous people living in 70 countries worldwide.