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Greenpeace supports Indigenous Peoples’ Rights: Here’s why

Tuesday, February 21, 2017 9:04
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Indigenous communities the world over are on the front lines of environmental destruction. Many have been fighting for centuries to protect land, water and air from threats like overfishing, deforestation and industrial development.

Water Protector at Dakota Access Pipeline Red Warrior Camp, 8 Sep, 2016. © Gokhan CukurovaWater Protector at Dakota Access Pipeline Red Warrior Camp, 8 Sep, 2016. 

Today, Indigenous Peoples continue to put their lives on the line to fight for justice and for the rights to their traditional territories: resisting logging in Guatemala and fighting oil drilling in Russia, demanding recognition of their rights in Sweden and Honduras, mobilising against industry encroachment in Canada, Brazil and the United States. Their leadership and resistance sends ripples across the world, awakening more and more people to the unjust system that both puts a destructive economy before the environment and sidelines Indigenous communities’ voices, rights and livelihoods.

Non-Indigenous allies must continue to join these battles, sending a signal to governments and corporations that Indigenous rights are supported by a broad cross-section of our societies.

Reindeer Nomads in Komi Republic, Russia, 30 Aug, 2015. © Dmitrij Leltschuk / GreenpeaceReindeer Nomads in Komi Republic, Russia, 30 Aug, 2015.

To demonstrate our respect for the rights of Indigenous Peoples and communities and our intention to improve and strengthen the way our organisation works with Indigenous Peoples, Greenpeace International has recently adopted a Policy on Indigenous Peoples Rights.

This flows from our organization’s and our supporters’ understanding of the inherent link between ecological health and human well-being to our shared environmental future — as well as the fact that the natural world is essential to the cultures, ways of life and identities of many Indigenous Peoples.

Portrait of Cacique Tiago Ikõ Munduruku in the Amazon, 22 Jun, 2016. © Marizilda Cruppe / GreenpeacePortrait of Cacique Tiago Ikõ Munduruku in the Amazon, 22 Jun, 2016. 

The urgent progress we need to make on climate change and environmental protection cannot be accomplished without dismantling these inequitable power systems that privilege the wants of a greedy few over the needs of the world’s many, diverse communities.

Amplifying Indigenous voices, respecting their inviolable rights, and learning from their traditional environmental stewardship is critical for our common fight for a green, just and peaceful future.

An important part of implementing this policy is reflecting on Greenpeace’s past. There are times we as an organisation have created respectful alliances with Indigenous Peoples and have succeeded together, and also times we have gotten it wrong — when our inadequate consultations have hurt Indigenous Peoples. With this policy, we move forward with a genuine desire to learn from our history.

Greenpeace voyagers visit the Kwakiutl indigenous villagers, 26 Oct, 1971. © Greenpeace / Robert KeziereGreenpeace voyagers visit the Kwakiutl indigenous villagers, 26 Oct, 1971. 

Our goal in adopting and sharing this policy is to make our allyship to Indigenous communities better, our resistance stronger and our movement more conscious.

You can read Greenpeace International’s policy in full here. To learn more about some of the work Greenpeace is doing in partnership with Indigenous communities, check out this blog.

Jennifer Morgan and Bunny McDiarmid are the Executive Directors of Greenpeace International. 


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