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9th August: International Day of The World’s Indigenous Peoples

Customs are inherited from ancestors


Protecting the rights of Indigenous Peoples is critical to supporting their important role in sustainable development.


Indigenous peoples make up about 6% of the world's population. Although relatively small in number, they protect nearly 80% of Earth's biodiversity and ecosystems. Additionally, data shows that around 91% of the land they manage is in good or fair condition.


Indigenous people protect nature through their culture, spirituality and way of life which is closely tied to the land they live on. They have centuries of unsurpassed knowledge about nature conservation. Their important role in supporting sustainable development covers various aspects, including:


  • Conservation of animals, such as snow leopards in Central Asia.

  • Sustainable use and trade of wild species.

  • Forest conservation.

  • Sustainable tourism


Discrimination against Indigenous Peoples


Even though their role is so big, they often lag behind in the development agenda. About 19% of the world's poor population are Indigenous Peoples. In many parts of the world, they face persistent systemic discrimination that prevents them from developing. Some of these obstacles can even threaten their lives.


Many Indigenous Peoples still live in fear of land eviction even though the land has been occupied by their predecessors for tens or even hundreds of years. Other discriminatory practices that they often experience include restrictions on access to clean water, education, health services and the world of work. They are also highly vulnerable to climate change and natural disasters as their livelihoods often depend on the land they occupy.


Better Protection and Support


As human beings, Indigenous Peoples deserve strong legal protection like people in general. Supporting them in managing land is critical to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.


Their knowledge of the land and its inhabitants is essential in building effective frameworks and strategies to protect biodiversity and ecosystems. Therefore, it is crucial to involve them in the drafting process, put them at the forefront of nature conservation, and fund their efforts.


In addition, strengthening legal protection for them is also very important. To maximize their potential as land conservationists, we must ensure that they obtain legal ownership and control over their land.


Ultimately, we must not forget that sustainability is not just about nature. Culture is also an important aspect of sustainability, including language, traditions, politics, and noble values. More than 4,000 languages are spoken by 476 million Indigenous Peoples worldwide.


Unfortunately, these languages are slowly becoming extinct. Therefore, more massive efforts are needed in various aspects. Governments, businesses, and local communities must work together to protect Indigenous Peoples and respect and support their important role in nature conservation, good governance and peace building.



History of International Indigenous Peoples Day


The idea of International Indigenous Peoples Day began with a seminar on the influence of racism and racial discrimination in the economic and social context between indigenous peoples and the state in Geneva in January 1989 by the United Nations. The conclusions from the seminar show that marginalization of indigenous peoples continues even though there are government officials who come from their own ethnic and racial background.


Indigenous Peoples are the inheritors and practitioners of unique cultures. They maintain social, cultural, economic, and political characteristics that are different from those of the dominant society in which they live.


Despite cultural differences, indigenous peoples from all over the world share the same problems related to protecting their rights as different peoples. Throughout history, their rights have been violated.


Thus, the commemoration of Indigenous Peoples Day was initiated to increase awareness of the needs of this group.

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