The fight for Indigenous rights and climate justice are intertwined. For Indigenuous peoples, land is the source of life and is therefore sacred— worthy of protecting as their ancestors have. Corporations continue to steal ancestral lands and drive away entire Indigenous communities to start climate risk projects, such as mining and large dam construction, for the sake of profit disguised as “development.”
In celebration of National Indigenous Peoples Month, we put a spotlight on some of the organizations laying their lives on the line to fight against climate emergency and human rights. Give them a follow on Instagram.
Liyang is a local to global advocacy network amplifying the calls of the environmental and human rights defenders of Mindanao. It was created at the request of its primary community partner, Sabokahan Unity of Lumad Women, to garner support for their people’s fight to end the exploitation of the Pantaron Mountain Range.
Through collective evacuation, the Lumad (a collective term adopted by a number of Indigenuous groups in Mindanao) shared their victories and struggles in their fight for land, livelihood, and self-determination. Apart from hosting discussions and benefit events, Liyang has also organized a mobile medical clinic to provide life-saving preventative healthcare to agricultural workers in Mindanao.
2. Cordillera Women’s Education Action Research Center (CWEARC)
The Cordillera Women’s Education Action Resource Center was established by the Indigenous peasant women and other women’s groups of Cordillera in 1987. The grassroots-oriented non-profit was then transformed to the CWEARC in 2005 when it redesigned its programs to become more integrated with the Cordillera women’s movement. Today, it supports the community through “capacity building, evidence-based advocacy, and direct social and economic services.”
Apart from organizing information campaigns, the group helps publish anthologies and other works by Indigenous human rights defenders and sells local products like wine.
Sandugo is the alliance and movement of Moro and Indigenous peoples for self-determination. In 2016, the anthem “Sandugo (Awit para sa Lakbayan)” was created for the annual march and camp-out called Lakbayan ng Pambansang Minorya (People’s Caravan of National Minorities). This inspired the creation of the alliance advocating for Moro and Indigenous people’s rights.
Apart from organizing caravans and benefit concerts, the alliance also holds situationers on the state of Indigenous peoples. It has even started a podcast.
4. The Center for Environmental Concerns – Philippines (CEC)
Established in 1989, the CEC is an NGO for ecological protection “founded through the initiatives of organizations representing fisherfolk, farmers, Indigenous peoples, women, urban poor, and professional sectors.” It now conducts “rural-based and community-centered adult education programs” as well as “investigative studies on local and national environmental issues.”
Apart from its programs, it also convenes with environmental defenders and storytellers and organizes events such as the recently concluded “Klima Live!” concert.
AIPP was founded in 1992 by Asian Indigenous peoples’ movements. The regional organization is committed to defending Indigenous peoples’ rights and articulating their plight. The group organizes the annual Asia Land Forum that aims to develop a common ground in terms of land governance, food security, poverty reduction, and democracy.
Established in 1993, London-based Global Witness has been “exposing environmental and human rights abuses in the oil, gas, mining, and timber sectors.” This includes investigating “ill-gotten money and influence” in finance and politics. The group seeks justice for those most affected by the climate crisis such as Indigenous communities.
You can find excerpts from their research and interviews with environmental defenders from around the globe on their page.
The London-based Survival International was founded in 1969 after the publication of a Sunday Times exposé on the genocide of Amazon tribes. It has grown into a global movement for Indigenuous and tribal peoples. It has organized campaigns in support of decolonizing conservation and Indigenuous education under Indigenuous control.
The group produces video interviews from different Indigenuous groups around the world and has developed educator’s toolkits.
Extinction Rebellion is a “decentralised” global movement that uses “non-violent direct action and civil disobedience” to push governments to act justly on the climate emergency. It partakes in the annual United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP) and organizes protests around the globe.
You can check out their page to get a glimpse of climate protests around the world.