YOUNG INDIGENOUS PEOPLE, AGENTS OF CHANGE FOR SELF-DETERMINATION
Environment and Climate Change Expert
Ecology, Environment, and Evolution Specialist
Indigenous peoples are the custodians of their lands. They carry within them the stories, beliefs, and ways of life that have evolved in harmony with nature for generations. However, they are often misunderstood, unrecognized, or underestimated, while they represent the pillars of cultural and ecological diversity in our world.
Today, August 9, the world comes together to celebrate World Indigenous Peoples Day, a day that reminds us of the crucial importance of preserving and respecting their rights, cultures, and lands. They are deeply rooted in their environment and their existence is closely linked to the health and sustainability of the ecosystems that surround them. They show extraordinary resilience in the face of external pressures, preserving their ways of life and their knowledge in the face of adversity.
This special day urges us to reflect on the challenges they face, such as the dispossession of their lands, the loss of their traditional resources, and the gradual disappearance of their languages and customs.
Indigenous peoples contribute to the preservation of biodiversity, the conservation of natural habitats, and the promotion of a balanced relationship with nature. Their traditional practices of agriculture, fishing, hunting, and natural resource management are full of valuable lessons for a harmonious coexistence between humans and nature.
Yet, marginalization, discrimination, loss of territories, and the effects of climate change are all threats that loom over them. Their voices and rights are often neglected, despite their invaluable contribution to the cultural and ecological diversity of our planet.
On this International Day, let's take a moment to recognize, celebrate, and support the indigenous peoples of the world, guarantors of an essential cultural and natural heritage for a sustainable and equitable future for all.
Let's commit to listening to their voices, respecting their rights, and learning from their millenary knowledge. Let's take example from their resilience to build a world where cultural and ecological diversity is valued, protected, and passed on to future generations.
The theme of this day for the year 2023 entitled "Indigenous Youth, Agents of Change for Self-determination" focuses on indigenous youth and their responsibility in the decision-making process. Their self-determination is expressed through their tenacity in facing the most urgent crises that humanity is facing. Their future depends on the decisions that are made today to facilitate their representation and participation in the global efforts to combat climate change and peacebuilding.
The establishment of the platform for indigenous peoples and local communities and the operationalization of its working group within the Paris Agreement constitute important advances for the recognition and valorization of the endogenous knowledge of indigenous peoples and for their participation in the decision-making process, in connection with climate change.
The Sahara and Sahel Observatory (OSS) highlights the concerns of indigenous peoples in its governance. In this respect, the OSS specifically applies Article 10 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which states that: “Indigenous peoples shall not be forcibly evicted from their lands or territories. No resettlement may take place without the prior, free and informed consent of the indigenous peoples concerned, and after agreement on just and fair compensation, and, when feasible, the option to return”.