Monday, March 17, 2008

'Locals know how to adapt to climate'

International Union for the Conservation of Nature: Indigenous peoples around the world will bear the brunt of climate change – but they are also armed with the traditional knowledge to survive its effects. That’s the message from the first comprehensive analysis of the effects of climate change on indigenous peoples, which is released today by IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature).

“Indigenous peoples are literally living on the edge – highly dependent on natural ecosystems, they usually occupy marginal lands, are under pressure socially and many lack proper political representation to improve their situation,” says Gonzalo Oviedo, IUCN Senior Advisor on Social Policy, and co-author of the report. “As a result they are especially vulnerable to climate change."

“But they’re not just victims,” says Julia Marton-Lefèvre, IUCN Director General. “Because of their long dependence on nature they’ve developed strategies to cope with climate change and extreme natural events which still have as much relevance today as they did hundreds of years ago.”

The report identifies such strategies, including the traditional Quezungal farming methods in Central America which involves planting crops under trees so the roots anchor the soil and reduce the loss of crops when hurricanes strike.

The report maps out the areas of the world which will be most vulnerable to climate change in the future and how this will impact on indigenous peoples. It calls on policy makers to take indigenous people’s experiences into account when making climate change policy.

Camel caravan in Komadugu Yobe river basin, North East Nigeria. Photo: Danièle Perrot-Maître, from IUCN website

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