16:00-18:00 Tuesday 09 September – Presenting the Permanent Indigenous Peoples’ Committee
350 million people are raising their voices for their rights to their homes
Tony Mendonça (FSC GA Youth Correspondent)
Indigenous communities from all over the world have for years had their homes put at risk by forest exploitation
Have you ever felt like your opinions are not being taken into account? Like every time you have a concern you just feel that you do not have a voice to express it? And feeling like everything that is yours is taken from you? These have been the feelings of many indigenous communities all around the world.
zoom © FSC A.C.That is why, after the creation of the Permanent Indigenous People’s Committee (PIPC), they held an introductory meeting last Tuesday at the General Assembly of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) 2014.
“There are around 7 billion people in the world, 350 million of them are in indigenous communities, which represent 5 percent of the world population,” said Juan Carlos Ocampo, who belongs to the Miskito Community in Central America and is also a member of the PIPC. Can you imagine the whole population of the United States feeling that they were being left behind? Bear in mind that the United States of America is the third most populated country in the world.
“Earth’s area is around 510 million km2, of which 30 million km2 are in the hands of indigenous communities, as well as 95 percent of the forest areas with the highest conservation index,” Ocampo pointed out. This means that, making a group with the areas of Canada, China and the United States would approximately represent the area where indigenous people live. Moreover, most of those forest places are extremely well conserved, which means that those people know how to care for their homes. Their fight is about having their homes respected, because “the primary values of the indigenous perspectives from all around the world are trees and lands,” according to Bradley Young, an Opaskwayak Cree from the source of the North Saskatchewan River in present-day northern Manitoba, Canada, Executive Director of the National Aboriginal Forestry Association and also a member of the PIPC.
It might not be easy to understand the spiritual value that indigenous communities place on forests and soils, but why should anyone disrespect the home and beliefs of other people? It is said that a major part of being human is to want to be respected and understood. “It is a matter of respecting what people believe in, even if we do not understand it,” remarked Jamie Levy, member of the Board of Directors of FSC. He also said that by believing in what they believe in, indigenous communities “have maintained the natural resources that we have.”