UN Report Says Indigenous Sovereignty Could Save the Planet

By Mike Ludwig, TRUTHOUT

The United Nations released a dire assessment of humanity’s impact on the world’s ecosystems and natural resources this week. Up to 1 million plant and animal species are at risk of extinction due to pollution, habitat loss, climate disruption and other consequences of human activity that are wreaking havoc on the planet. Many species could disappear within decades if current development trends continue.

The U.N. assessment comes on the heels of startling climate reports that have alarmed much of the world, but it also illuminates a path forward for humanity: While humans have “significantly altered” about three quarters of land-based environments and two-thirds marine environments, these trends have been less severe or avoided altogether in areas held or managed by Indigenous peoples and “local communities.”

This means that Earth’s resources are protected in areas preserved for and by Indigenous people and managed by communities that enjoy some autonomy from global economic forces and tend to use resources sustainably. However, these areas often face the most pressure from deforestation, fossil fuel production and mineral mining, putting both the stewards of pristine lands and waters and their knowledge for managing them at risk, according to the report.

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