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Indigenous women and science knowledge: The first voice and climate change

When we talk about science knowledge, we often neglect the contribution of indigenous peoples, particularly indigenous women. With nearly 200m indigenous women at the front line of climate change, their science knowledge is complementary, instructive and vital to scientific research in the ‘global North’. The ‘first voice’ of indigenous women is central to building ecological resilience and steering international action on climate change mitigation.

In November 2010, 80 indigenous women from 60 indigenous nations and peoples gathered in Manila, Philippines for the Global Conference on Indigenous Women, Climate Change and REDD Plus. Sharing knowledge and experiences on climate change adaptation and mitigation, they described the inequitable burden brought upon them by western consumerism and the commoditisation of nature. The Mandaluyong Declaration, released on the back of the conference, stated:

“While we have least contributed to the problem of climate change, we have to carry the burdens of adapting to its adverse impacts. This is because of the unwillingness of rich, industrialised countries to change their unsustainable production and consumption patterns and pay their environmental debt for causing this ecological disaster.”


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