Indigenous wisdom can help the world beat climate change

A farmer in the drought-affected area of Senegal watering plants. [Photo: UN]

A recent United Nations climate change report warned of a rising possibility that the world will miss Paris climate agreement target in five years if urgent action is not taken.

Extreme weather events are driving humanity to the edge and disrupting lives and livelihoods globally. That said, indigenous people have a deep understanding of the interplay of the natural world using their indigenous knowledge.

According to studies, indigenous people account for 5 per cent of global population and live within 20 per cent of the world landmass yet they safeguard 80 per cent of the world’s biodiversity using their indigenous knowledge. For centuries, evidence shows ecosystems that are still intact are found within indigenous communities’ territories.

While climate change realities raise the frequency and intensity of devastating disasters, indigenous knowledge has been at the forefront of a lot of discussions lately, since it gives deep understanding of the natural world.

Indigenous knowledge helps local communities to understand how to adapt, interpret, predict both present and future climate-related patterns.

Indigenous and local communities organise their lives based on seasonal and traditional methods to predict natural world using their localised observation and interpretation methods. This has built resilience and helped them understand how climate change adaptation will benefit environmental conservation.

Globally, like many other indigenous communities, the Maori indigenous people in New Zealand have mastered deep understanding of their ecosystems using observation of ecological landscape and its behaviour pattern for millions of years.

The rising waters of Lake Baringo is linked to a shift in climate tectonic plates according to geological analysis. In sharp contrast, Ilchamus community elder Lempuranai ole Mpakany pinpoints the basic principle of community traditional knowledge that the lake’s rising water levels is linked to 1924, 1956 and 1962 history that lakes, rivers and sea will reclaim their original water service however many years it will take.

Last year in Australia, when deadly wildfires wreaked havoc, the government adopted Aboriginal local community’s approach to combat the fire. The community has been managing wildfires using their indigenous knowledge.

-Lepariyo is a community youth leader


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