Climate change is one of the most important ecological and social crises that humanity is facing and indigenous people are on the frontlines of the issue. There are indigenous people all over the world and each with their own unique culture and characteristics but one thing that many share is their respect for the Earth and reliance on it for their livelihoods. What happens when the Earth they know no longer responds the same way it had “always”? How does climate change affect indigenous people? The Earth is influenced and shaped by climate and climate is influenced by Earth and all its inhabitants. This means that living organisms (humans, insects, bees, bears, cows, etc.) have some impact on climate and thus the Earth. Humans have significantly contributed to climate change due to their activities that manipulate Earth (agriculture, road development, mining, burning fossil fuels, etc.) in order to meet human needs and wants. Greenhouse gases (GHG) are released in significant quantities due to human activities and contribute to climate change.
This research paper begins by introducing the concept of climate change and some factors that contribute to it. I then discuss some ways that climate change impacts the health and well-being of indigenous people. Before concluding, I briefly discuss potential solutions to combat climate change from an indigenous perspective and the importance of collaborating with indigenous communities. Indigenous people have a wealth of traditional ecological knowledge that is unique to them and aids them in their efforts to adapt to changing weather patterns and the associated consequences of climate change.
Keep reading by downloading the paper below:
Indigenous women living in the Guarayos and Chiquitano Territories of Bolivia grow and
harvest cusi, a fruit that grows on tall palm trees. Some of the women in the territories have
joined together to form women’s cooperatives where they work together to harvest and process
cusi. Forming a cooperative allows for shared benefits while reducing workload on individuals
since multiple people are working towards one goal. The non-timber forest products (NTFP) that
are made from cusi, also known as babassu, include: oil, soap, shampoo, creams and many
others. Harvesting and selling the products that come from cusi is a source of income for the
women and helps empower them socially and economically. Their business also helps to
conserve the forest since harvesting and growing cusi is done without cutting trees down and is
another way to prove “productive use” of land, a requirement to maintain land tenure in Bolivia.
An important part of Guarayos cultural identity, the cusi palm is linked to ancestral practices as
Mrs Arminda Uranungar President of ASORECU mentions, “ The cusi is a raw material that
nature gives us and we do not have to buy it, with the sale of cusi oil our grandmothers have
raised our mothers and they to us, we also want it to continue being a source of income for our
current families” (Martinez).
This project is focused on helping to connect women’s cooperatives in Bolivia to
potential buyers.The goal is to empower indigenous women, provide them with fair market price
for their products and labor, and help mitigate deforestation by supporting them and their
business. I am working with several students from Students for Indigenous Rights and
Environmental Justice (SIREJ) and CIPCA. SIREJ is a student organization formed by
several students that went on a service learning study abroad program in Bolivia in the summer
of 2019. They had visited and worked on projects in the Guarayos and Chiquitano/Monkoxi Territories and had wished to continue working with the indigenous communities remotely. All SIREJ members are volunteers and donate time and resources to complete projects prioritized by indigenous communities. Centro de Investigacion y Promocion del Campesinado (CIPCA) is a non-governmental organization (NGO) that helps the women’s cooperatives with training, selling, and acquiring needed support to operate their business.
This post is derived from the report below. The report was prepared in December of 2019.
If you'd like to read more you can download the report below. The report discusses cusi and the women that make it. It also provides contact info for those wanting to learn more about buying the cusi and copaibo oil.
Rose Poton (she/her) is a compassionate and creative Conflict and Dispute Resolution professional that enjoys working on issues involving the health and well-being of all people and environments while applying a community-centered and environmental justice lens.