The 9th of August is the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. It is a day celebrated around the world which marks the first meeting of the United Nations Working Group on Indigenous Populations, held in Geneva, Switzerland in 1982.
Our natural environment relies heavily on the Indigenous Peoples of the world, with their territories containing around 80 percent of our planet’s biodiversity. And at the same time, they are among the world’s most vulnerable and marginalised people. For far too long, governments across the globe, including ours, have taken a drastically wrong approach toward First Nations Peoples, and in turn, our natural environment.
Here in Australia, this past year has brought unprecedented bushfires and drought immediately followed by a global pandemic. The last 12 months have highlighted our desperate need to gain a better knowledge and understanding of the land and how to minimise our impact. Our First Nations people have lived harmoniously with the land for tens of thousands of years, and they hold the knowledge that our developed world so desperately lacks.
As we fight against the spread of the pandemic, it is more important than ever to safeguard indigenous peoples and their knowledge. (source - un.org)
This year’s theme is COVID-19 and indigenous peoples’ resilience. Indigenous Peoples are among the world’s most vulnerable, and the global pandemic is placing these communities at even greater risk. First Nations communities already face numerous challenges, including limited access to health care, higher rates of chronic health issues, increased exposure to the impacts of climate change and restricted access to emergency services. Yet even in the face of adversity, Australia’s Indigenous communities have shown resilience, innovation and effectiveness in their approach toward deterring outbreak within their communities.
There is extensive evidence that shows the link between pandemics and climate destruction. The relentless push toward land clearing, development and unsustainable agriculture has forced the world’s biodiverse areas to become ever smaller, as our need to encroach on our natural surroundings increases. Now, more than ever before, we need to work to together support of our world’s Indigenous Peoples.
We must all do our part to become informed, and to place pressure on our leaders to do better to work together with First Nations Peoples to ensure real, positive change. Our Indigenous communities are precious, vital to our natural world, and to the survival of all of us. Real change is needed, and now.
To learn more, visit www.un.org/en/observances/indigenous-day
(Header image by David Gray/Reuters)