Indigenous peoples occupy only 15% of the world's territory, but protect 80% of the remaining biodiversity on the planet, according to World Bank data. As with other populations, the actions of indigenous communities are those that least affect nature, but they are among the groups that suffer most strongly the consequences of climate change.
In indigenous populations, the effects of these changes are reflected in the vulnerability of their ecosystems, exposed to risks of slow onset and sudden onset in their identity, closely related to the earth, its ancestrality and its sacred spaces; and in the loss of territories, as Oxfam indicates, vulnerable populations in developing countries are five times more likely to be displaced by disasters resulting from sudden extreme weather events.
In addition to climate change, and despite their organization and resistance, indigenous populations have also historically been displaced by the colonization of other cultures. The advance of megacorporations, and the settlement of other populations in their territories, constitutes another reason for displacement.
With a different cultural, food and language background, when families and indigenous groups move to communities of other cultures, integration can be complicated. To facilitate the inclusion of displaced indigenous populations, host communities can carry out multiple actions:
- Recognize their traditional skills. Indifference to their culture and livelihoods has both emotional and economic repercussions. A UNICEF study indicated that the marginalization and feeling of social isolation particularly felt by indigenous youth, (both in their own communities and in the host communities), contributes to the highest suicide rate in Latin America among adolescents indigenous Valuing the knowledge of those who arrive decreases the feeling of uprooting and favors inclusion.
- Prioritize local and family purchases: The International Intellectual Property Organization indicates that indigenous peoples in general are aware of the commercial value of their knowledge, but from clothing to pharmaceutical items, many of their products appear reproduced by third parties in the market. Buying from indigenous people who settle in new communities, supports the economic stability of them.
- Respect the collective dimension of their culture. Their collective rights over lands, territories and resources are defined in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (Articles 3 and 26). The collective possession of ancestral lands is one of the most important forms of self-determination of indigenous peoples and is directly affected at the time of displacement. However, other aspects of their identity also fulfill this community characteristic, such as decision-making and collective upbringing.
- Sensitize to the lack of identification documents: According to UNHCR, the displaced indigenous population is the most likely to have no documentation such as identity cards, birth certificates or marriage certificates. Although it is the responsibility of the State institutions to grant this type of paper, what the host communities can do is to understand and empathize when, under certain circumstances, a displaced minority lacks documents and requires access to procedures or services.
- Procure alternative means of communication and openness to other languages: In Guatemala, the IACHR has spoken about the lack of cultural adaptation in social services, such as health, and this corresponds to the State. However, to exist in a community, communication will be necessary on a recurring basis, so learning and teaching basic concepts of the different languages involved will facilitate interaction and the creation of bonds.
Supporting internally displaced populations is necessary for healthy and even productive coexistence, but it is important to remember that in addition to the integration of these people, work must be done on the prevention of climate displacement with strategies such as disaster preparedness, planning for use of the earth, the conservation of the environment and national plans for sustainable development.