Humanity's Last Chance Saloon: Indigenous traditional knowledge and custodianship

Friday 3 June
11:00-12:15 CEST
Stockholmsmässan, Room 2

Organizers: Minority Rights Group, The Tenure Facility

About: The destruction of circular economies in pursuit of wealth and their replacement by extractive models of systemic exploitation have brought humanity to the brink of survival. Enlightened policy design and implementation are vital for an urgent reversal. However, international decision-making processes’ ingrained bias towards institutional rather than planetary preservation and their continued privileging of large-scale commercial interests are major obstacles.

Changing behaviour requires bespoke plans for locations driving the crisis, embedding new standards, and framing deterrence crimes around inter-generational wealth transfer, reparation for unjust enrichment and ecocide. To safeguard the future, the task requires sincere reach-out to nature’s most effective custodians: listening, learning, synthesizing and scaling-up time-honed environmental solutions from well beyond the limited but still dominant realm of western models of development.

In the spirit of this, after a brief introduction to climate mitigation and adaptation issues as viewed by indigenous communities, this event will focus on the central role of indigenous traditional knowledge in safeguarding the environment. Drawing on the experiences of four indigenous spokespeople from around the globe, alternative models for sustainable environmental custodianship will be suggested with a clear call to action rooted in indigenous peoples’ rights and backed by climate science.

Moderator(s): Joshua Castellino (Minority Rights Group)


  • Nonette Royo (The Tenure Facility)
  • Vicky Tauli-Corpuz (Tebtebba Foundation)
  • Archana Soreng (UN Secretary General's Youth Advisory Group on Climate Change)
  • Oula-Antti Labba (Saami Council)

Contact person: Carl Soderbergh (

Event outcomes (Key transformative actions):

  • Governments must immediately implement in a full and effective way the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and other human rights conventions. Those that have not ratified ILO 169 should also do that immediately. No decisions affecting indigenous peoples should be taken without their effective and meaningful participation, and their free, prior and informed consent.

  • Governments must also immediately recognise indigenous peoples' customary land and resource ownership and rights. Comprehensive land use plans need to be drawn up as soon as possible in order to regulate natural resource extraction so that it does not harm indigenous communities, and this also needs to be done with indigenous peoples' involvement and consent.

  • Governments should protect and support indigenous languages and this needs to be done immediately. Indigenous peoples do not distinguish between humans, nature and language. Indigenous languages are vital for indigenous communities to protect and pass on traditional knowledge to future generations. The vital role of indigenous women in safeguarding, practicing and transmitting indigenous knowledge needs to be acknowledged, celebrated, documented and protected. The various ways in which indigenous peoples, especially indigenous women, transmit traditional knowledge need to be recognised and protected, through stories, dance, rituals.

  • Climate scientists need to engage today with indigenous knowledge systems in a bid to formulate holistic climate solutions, recognising that indigenous communities are the real experts who understand their local environments and are likely to be best equipped to formulate climate solutions that are appropriate to their immediate surroundings.

  • Governments need to be honest and critical now about the real impacts on indigenous peoples of proposed climate mitigation and adaptation solutions and not pander to corporate interests by using convenient rhetoric such as 'green plans', 'nature-based solutions' and '30x30' that simply reinforce the status quo and are questionable in many parts of the world in terms of arresting climate catastrophe. Indigenous peoples in many parts of the world face the double burden of climate impacts as well as the often disastrous effects of the natural resource extraction and land-grabbing that is happening in the name of 'green' solutions - such as industrial-scale wind farms and rare earth and mineral mining on their traditional lands.

Additional information:

Co-sponsoring this event is Land Body Ecologies, an interdisciplinary research group working to understand the mental health impacts of environmental change on indigenous and land dependent communities globally.

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