Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities have lived in harmony with Nature from a time that extends beyond record, cultivating a symbiosis with their surrounding environment that has allowed them to live, create a culture and thrive through a way that preserves biodiversity and helps it flourish. This way of living often emanated from a way of thinking very distant, if not opposed, to how Western thought perceived Nature and our relationship with it.
“Humankind has not woven the web of life.
We are but one thread within it. Whatever we
do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are
bound together. All things connect.” Chief Seattle,
“Indigenous peoples from every corner of the globe recognize that other species are part of nature and as human beings, we are also part of nature.” Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, environmental activist and co-director of the pavilion of the World Indigenous Peoples’ Initiative, Indigenous Mbororo Pastoralist
Indigenous Peoples often see themselves and Nature as part of the same complex and delicate web of life. Western worldviews mostly alienated Humankind and Nature from each other: Nature was to be conquered by Man, its gifts were resources to exploit, wildlife was to be fenced-up. This gave way to a pernicious dominant doctrine that dictated the division of the natural world between places to be exploited and recklessly depleted of "resources" and sites to be conserved, fortresses wilderness that only existed in fairy tales. This approach to conservation often led, and still leads, to the eviction of the Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities who have called these places home for millennia. Because of this, they have endured displacement and denial of their rights, a profound injustice, especially when we acknowledge that these are not the ways of life endangering ecosystems, biodiversity and ultimately our own survival as a species. These are ways of life that have protected Nature since long before the concept of conservation was even created. Multiple reports and research have shown that land owned or governed by either Indigenous Peoples or Local Communities harbors much more biodiversity than other "conserved" areas. Though they make up less than 5 percent of the global population, Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities percent of the world's biodiversity. Mordecai Ogada, Kenyan wildlife ecologist and conservation policy expert, illustrates this reality by resorting to his knowledge of African languages. In all his years of research and practice in wildlife conservation policy and practice, he still hasn't encountered a word for "conservation" in any African language, simply because it was never a concept governing peoples’ way of living. There is no word because there is no concept. When Nature is not to be destroyed, why should it be conserved?
Along with funding projects that protect indigenous stewardship of Nature, one of our goals is to raise awareness about how protecting Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities' land rights and ways of living in harmony with Nature benefits all living beings.
Also, we aim to help communicate how access to health and water also depends on a balanced environment for all of Earth's species. To fight for universal access to both these Human Rights means fighting to restore and protect ways of life that are one with Nature.