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Discuss: State of the World 2013 > Chapter 19 Valuing Indigenous Peoples.

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message 1: by Ted (new)

Ted | 348 comments Mod
For Valuing Indigenous Peoples.

message 2: by Ted (new)

Ted | 348 comments Mod
This chapter is about the relation of Indigenous Peoples (IP) to the land and ecosystem in which they live. It was better than chapter 18, but not by a whole lot. I will however try to comment on what I perceived as good points, and also on the problems I had.

Good points/information.

p. 210. The Maasai environmental knowledge and practices include rotational livestock grazing and “the fostering of beneficial wildlife habitats”, both of which can “help to build resilience to climate change, improve water conservation, and protect biodiversity.

211 – IP inhabit more than 85% of the earth’s protected areas. “Their territories span most of the last remaining biodiversity-rich conservation priority areas, and they maintain traditional land claims on 18-24 percent of Earth’s land surface.”

214 – Some nice info about deals that international companies have made with IP to at least show some respect for them, their ways of life, and their needs relating to the lands on which they live.

215 – “A value central to indigenous communities is egalitarian and inclusive development – development that does not benefit some at the expense of others.” This is discussed in the context of a meeting in Kenya in 2009 of the First Peoples group. (However, though one might wish that this was indeed a universal value of IP, I am skeptical. Perhaps if it’s is applied to a village, or even to a larger homogeneous group; but doubtful when applied to the interactions of multiple IP groups; though it did win out in just that context in the meeting discussed.)


I have a strong suspicion that the alleged respect that IP show for the environment and for biodiversity, mentioned throughout these two chapters, is not so much a core value as it is a consequence of low population, low technology, and large traditional land areas. Given these initial conditions, it isn’t difficult for a people to live sustainably, whether they consciously choose to do so or not.

The real proof only comes when a people achieves the capability and the numbers to truly harm their environment. Then, if they have the wisdom and knowledge to pull back from their natural desires for more, they would indeed demonstrate the values mentioned. Most IP have never been put to this test.

It is no doubt true that most IP have a deep desire for their lands and their “environment” to remain as they always have been. But this is simply a deep conservative longing, very natural to all people, rather than a respect for values that are of high concern to the environmental movements of the developed world. The goal is surely the same, but the reasons are not, in my view.

The discussion of arrangements that are being made by (on the one hand) international companies and national governments, with (on the other hand) IP groups, is rather facile. (See p. 214) It is all very nice for oil companies to paint their ships colors which are acceptable to IP. But they still take the oil, and wreck the environment/ecosystems to whatever extent they can’t conveniently avoid. Would they ever respect the views of IP enough to just leave the oil, gas, uranium, gold, coal, whatever in the ground and walk away? What a naïve question to even ask.

And the talk about development by companies and governments on traditional lands, done in ways that also benefit the IP? This is really nothing more than an attempt to convince IP that if they adopt ”these” values, they will come to share in the loot in (very modest) ways that will be acceptable to the developers.

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