Listening to the voices of indigenous peoples who experience the effects of climate change firsthand is definitely a way to help spread awareness about the need to reduce global CO2 emissions, but also to adapt to the world’s changing climate.  There have been recent studies that demonstrate the value of indigenous and local knowledge in climate science (see Local knowledge benefits climate change science and adaptation) and there will likely be many more as it provides researchers access to data that only can be revealed by local and indigenous communities.  However, there is without a doubt much work to be done.  After all, neither indigenous peoples nor climate scientists (or anyone else for that matter) has a complete picture of how the Earth’s climate(s) will change over time.  Instead, different forms of knowledge are available that could be used to create a broader, more in-depth understanding of how the effects of climate change are impacting different regions of the Earth today.

There are a number of organisations that exist who are working to preserve and bridge indigenous and local knowledge with science.  In terms of local knowledge, researchers in IHRR have been working closely with communities in Nepal (see Building Rural Resilience in Seismically Active Areas) to understand what they know about physical hazards and how both scientists and local people can benefit from each others’ knowledge to adapt to earthquakes, landslides and other physical hazards.  While both scientific and indigenous knowledge are distinct from one another, more scientists are finding that indigenous knowledge in many ways is also scientific or at least improves upon scientific knowledge in places where little is known.  For example, advanced technology like satellite imaging definitely helps reveal changes to the land, ocean, atmosphere and other parts of the Earth’s environment, but in some cases what it doesn’t reveal is how or where people experience climate change.  However, bridging them together can increase scientists’ environmental knowledge as well as help indigenous peoples become more resilient to changes in climate that affect local resources they depend on for survival (see this study for a good example: Space Technologies for Enhancing the Resilience and Sustainability of Indigenous Reindeer Husbandry in the Russian Arctic).

Video is of course the medium that can allow many indigenous peoples to express their views on climate changeIn Brazil, indigenous leaders have spoken out about climate change and how destruction of rainforests in their homeland will only exacerbate the problem.  Below is a video that gives an idea of some of the environmental problems indigenous peoples are facing in Brazil and what they think about climate change.

Also, a video that expresses the views of  indigenous communities in Indonesia on climate change as well as mitigation projects such as REDD.

Concerns of indigenous peoples in Thailand on Climate Change and REDD/REDD+ from Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact on Vimeo.

Further Reading and Resources

Indigenous People Sound the Alarm on Climate Change. National Geographic

Indigenous Voices on Climate Change

UN Indigenous Peoples Climate Change Assessment