Rights and Resources: Indigenous Communities and Environmental Conservation #SkollWF 2017

Rights and Resources: Indigenous Communities and Environmental Conservation #SkollWF 2017


Good morning, everybody. It’s Friday morning
and we can tell. A little too much partying
last night perhaps. Welcome, thank you all
for being here. It’s custom in many indigenous communities,
in Canada as well as around the world, to open these kinds of gatherings and
conversations with a prayer and a welcoming. So, I’m actually going
to ask Mandy Gull, who is the Deputy Chief of
the Waswanipi First Nations in the Boreal Forest of Canada, to actually open us
with a prayer to, you know, create the space for all of us actually being
in this fantastic venue, as well as the, you know, generosity of spirit
we’re all bringing to this conversation. So, thanks, Mandy. Okay.
Stand. I’m going to pray in my native language
and then I will translate afterwards,
okay? Heavenly father, we thank you for this day. We give many thanks for the things
that you’ve given to us. We ask that you watch over each
and every one of these speakers as they come to share their stories and ask that each and every
person participating today takes something away
that is of value to them. We ask Lord, that you watch
over each and every person as they travel home and bring them
home safely to their loved ones. In your heavenly name
Lord, we pray. Amen. Thank you, Mandy. So, welcome everybody. We have an intimate group this morning
compared to some of the other forums, but I think that’s fantastic. So, if folks want to move in
a little closer, then feel free. We will really be recruiting all of you as members
of the audience in this conversation and dialogue
as the day progresses. A quick introduction,
I am Nicole Rycroft. I am going to be masquerading
as the moderator this morning. Folks had a sense of… we’re aware of my general
concept of time, that would raise concerns for everybody, but I will be responsible for trying
to shepherd us through an interesting conversation
and having us all out the door at a quarter after eleven. A little bit of a quick
introduction as to why I’m up here. I am the Executive Director and Founder of
an environmental organization called Canopy. We work to protect
the world’s forests and we work to support the advancement of indigenous and traditional communities’ rights
to their lands. And that work is global in scope, so I’m delighted to be here to help
enable this conversation. A couple of things as putting on my responsible hat as a moderator. If everybody could turn their
electronic devices to silent. Please take it off vibrate as well,
so it’s not distracting as it buzzes on the countertop.
When we get to the discussion period, if folks can actually hold their question and their comments
until the microphone is actually with you. Because we are streaming and recording this, just so that everybody’s questions and
input is actually recorded and part of the
record of this conversation. And then there are little slips which we are all now
very familiar with, that are very useful for
the forum organizers. So, please make sure you take time
at the end to fill them out. I’m actually personally incredibly excited
that this conversation is happening and that the organizers of the
forum have actually dedicated this space on the agenda to actually start the conversation around indigenous rights and conservation. I think all of us in this room are very
familiar with the fact thatthese voices and stories are actually
really under-represented, generally, in these kinds of fora. So I think ironically enough, although all of us on the panel work to support the advancement
of indigenous rights. Even here with this panel we actually see that under-representation in that
we actually only have one person that is really from an indigenous community. And so I think that what we’re hoping, and I know what the forum
organizers are really striving towards, is to have this be the start of a conversation
and an expansion of the Skoll community to actually bring more of those voices forward into this conversation. So, I really welcome this opportunity. Just very quickly, ahead
we have seventy minutes of scintillating conversation.
We have three very interesting and intelligent speakers that you’ll be hearing from.
And then of course, we have the collective intelligence
of everybody else in the room. So I’m hoping we’ll have
a fairly substantive conversation and dialogue. Of course, we’ll hear
from the panel to start off with, who have come from quite a distance. So, we have Victor López Illescas, who heads up the Guatemalan
Community Forestry Association. Next to him we have Mandy
Gull, who you’ve already met. And then
Flaviano Bianchini who is the Founder and Executive
Director of Source International. So, I’m really delighted to be sharing this forum with all of you. But before we get too settled in
our seats and sort of typing out sort of, you know, last minute emails,
before we kick off into content. It’s been a couple of days of earnest
conversation, a long night of dancing. So that we as the folks that are up on center stage, at least for this side of the
conversation have a better sense of who’s in the room, we’re going to get a sense of who from the Skoll
community is here? So, if you’re… if you’re working with a not-for-profit, with a social enterprise,
I’m going to get you to stand up and howl like a howler monkey that has just found the best
fruit tree in all of the rain forest. Come on people, come on. I saw you dancing
to Michael Franti. That’s it! That’s it! Alright, please stay standing so it’s obvious
if someone’s trying to sort of short their identification responsibilities.
There’s no shame but, you know. If you are affiliated with a philanthropic
institution or investment company, please stand and wave your
arms around like you’re in a storm and kind of like
in a rain forest. Fantastic! If you work with a communications company, media, you’re a storyteller,
you’re a filmmaker, please stand and speak whale
like Finding Dory did in Finding Nemo. Do you need a cue? There we go, perfect! If you are a member
of an indigenous community, please stand and growl like a bear. Donovan, I’m looking at you. There aren’t many bear in
Waswanipi territory it would seem. And if you’re an academic or somebody
else within the Skoll community, please stand and wiggle like a chicken. Biodiversity in all it’s fabulous forms.
Thank you everybody for joining us. So yeah, that’s right,
that’s it the sessions over. One of the things that really
struck me when Jessica, who I spoke with about this panel, about the theme for
this year’s conference. The concept of fault lines
feels as though, like it really specifically
speaks to this topic of indigenous rights
and conservation. And so I think it’s a really
pertinent subject. I think that the tension that comes at fault lines is something that we see every day in this work. And so I wanted to start the conversation,
actually, just with testing an observation that I have through the work of my organization and
I’m just going to very quickly flip through some eye candy. So, you know, I think my finding
with our work at Canopy is that it doesn’t really matter, the landscapes that we
work in are incredibly diverse. The biodiversity,
the cultures and the communities that we work with also spectacular with, you know, the practices, the cultures,
the beliefs, the origin stories that they have and incredible biodiversity. And yet, there’s a banal
commonality to the pressures that are being faced by these communities. Be it, sometimes it’s
a logging company, sometimes it’s a mining company,
sometimes it’s a dam, but the end result
is a simplification, almost an eradication of the natural
biodiversity of that ecosystem. And with that, a degradation and
an undermining of indigenous cultures who are so inextricably linked
to the land and that diversity. And so I think that contrast
between this incredible diversity and then the the very
common driving pressure is something that I’d like us to kick off with.
And Victor, I’d actually like to call on you perhaps. Given that you work with 50 communities
across Mesoamerica, does that sort of juxtaposition of incredible diversity and then commonality of
pressure and experience ring true for you, or not? Yes, good morning all my colleagues present here. It’s really an honor
to be part of this and yes, as you mentioned,
we in Central America and Mexico, indigenous peoples,
multicultural communities, peasant and fisherman and
fisherwomen in communities. We are in fact protecting most of the
remaining forest and key ecosystem
for biodiversity in the region. Every one of us, I think we know
there is evidence enough in place that indigenous peoples inhabit more than 95% of key ecosystems
and territories for biodiversity. In central America,
in Mesoamerica, we have more legally recognized
rights than in other regions, you can see it. 65% of the forest remaining in the
region are under indigenous people’s and local community’s management. Formal land tenure rights are in place, but in fact, these rights are not
being respected and realized. The fault line for me is that we have a double
standard going on. On one side, natural protected areas are imposed by governments and conservation organizations as a barrier of their aggressive expansion of industrial urban let development models. But, within the territories,
the contrary is going on, yeah? The natural protecting areas are being decided without any consultation to indigenous peoples
and our effective means to impose the same
development model, overriding indigenous people’s governance,
local governance systems, local knowledge and the demonstrated
tradition of protecting those areas. I will briefly show you a map of Central America,
what we call Mesoamerica, including Southern Mexico, where you can see the overlap between indigenous territories, protected areas and forests, in many places of the region. And through the next example about Eastern Panama, you can see that the lowest deforestation rates are taking place within the indigenous territories,
in comparison with non-protected and non-indigenous territories. In my country, in Guatemala, the reality
is even more dramatic. In the last decade 56% of deforestation has happened
within the national protected areas. But, a total different reality happens in places
like Totonicapán in the highlands, or the Petén in the northern
side of the country, which are the only places where government
has to give back rights to communities to sustainably manage the forest. So, I can say that we are facing
that double standard going on. I will come with a bit more depth details,
but I would like others to sure tell us. So maybe, Flaviano, you’re a scientist. Can you tell us a little bit about Source International, how you see,
you know, like pressures being placed on indigenous
communities in the kind of geographical scope, which is quite broad, of
your organizations work? Yeah. Well, first of all, as Victor said, thank you
for being here and good morning, everybody. I’ll give you one example, this is in Peru,
this is the city of Cerro de Pasco in the Peruvian Andes. It claims to be the highest city in the world, 4,500 meters on the sea level,
that’s almost 16,000 feet. And the first thing that came to my mind
when we talking about frontiers, it used to be, I mean, it is an indigenous
place, an indigenous area. But originally, indigenous
were not living there. I mean indigenous are not stupid, they don’t
want to live at 4,500 meters on the sea level. It’s crazy cold up there, there’s no oxygen, the ground is not that fertile
as you can image, with the layer is frozen
for 9 months a year. So actually, the boundaries have pushed them up there. So, first was the agricultural boundary, when the Spanish came,
the Conquistadors, 500 years ago, so they push
indigenous people to go out basically from the more fertile areas and
they ended up living up there. But 60 years ago there was a new boundary, that was
the mining boundary. So, 60 years ago a mining company start to build these
gigantic hole in the middle of the town that is 2km long,
2km wide and 1km deep. And for 60 years, different companies because the company
has been sold to other companies, then another company, then nationalized, then sold
to the cousin of the President and then sold again. So for years they extract
from there mineral resources and push basically indigenous
people out from there to different territories and that’s not
just because the hole you can see. You have to imagine that when
you’re talking about mine, in this case it’s quite a good ore and what a good ore means that
there is one gram of mineral per tons. So, it means that every tons of rock
they taking up from the ground there are 999.99 grams of waste.
So, basically all those waste occupied the entire territory from
the indigenous communities over there. So, if you had a football field, you ended up
playing under the mining waste. There’s basically a struggle between those waste and the territory
that they occupy, and the land of the people itself. And then there is the problem of pollution because the impact of such activities,
it’s not just the land and the ground in that place, it’s the pollution
that goes out for kilometers and kilometers. This water is the discharge
of the water of Cerro de Pasco. It contains 180 milligrams
per liter of aluminum. Say it like this, if you are not a scientist
it’s pretty hard to understand, but if you drink that water, and I can assure
there are people who drink that water, if you’re drinking 2 liters a day, after 45 days
you ended up drinking all this amount of aluminum. It means eight of these cans
every year in your body. And that is not surprised that if we
take blood samples of all the population, because that’s what Source International does, 100% of the population present levels
of aluminum upon the limit. Actually, six times higher than the limit. And it’s not just aluminum, it’s lead, it’s arsenic,
it’s cadmium, it’s chromium, it’s 23 different metals inside the body of people of Cerro de Pasco. And then, this is another way in which they… this used to be a lake with a very romantic
name, it’s the Quilacocha Lake. Quilacocha in Quechua means
The Lake of the Seagull. But the lake has been full
filled with mining waste, completely full filled with mining waste.
You can see the color red, it’s for a process that
is called acid drainage. This water is more
acid than a lemon. It’s basically the same pH, it’s pH 2. So, it’s basically they killed
an entire ecosystem and it’s not just the ecosystem
and the seagulls. It’s also the people who used to
live off fishing from that lake, that used to rely on the water
of that lake, that used to rely on the environment
and the strict linkage, and Mandy can talk more about this,
the strict linkage that indigenous population had with that specific territories. And so, the boundary has been pushed far
and far and then therefore, as you can see, this is the only hospital of Cerro de Pasco. There’s 120 places in the hospital
for 80,000 inhabitants, all sick basically, and it’s surrounded by mining waste. So, when we talk about boundary,
it means that today, fortunately or unfortunately,
depending from the point of view, most of the resources, natural resources
that are still there are inside indigenous territories. That’s exactly linking with what Victor
was saying, because indigenous territories are the one that’s
being more protected, and at the same time they are the one that has been
pushed more far away, so the more remote areas. If you look at a map, and you will see that
indigenous people lives in the more remote areas. But, it’s not just because
they want to live in remote areas, that’s because in the last 500 years,
or 600 years or whatever, they have been pushed to
live in the more remote areas. But at the same time those remote
areas are the areas where today, there are more natural resources
for the same exact reason. Not because natural
resources are far away but because the natural resources
that were more close, they are finished. Exactly. I think it was a conversation that Heather Ryan
was having with Mandy earlier on this week, when she noted that when there was
a relocation of indigenous Americans away from the coast, from the prime real estate
of the coast, they were moved inland to what was perceived as far
less desirable real estate. But, little did they know at the time
how resource rich it was, otherwise, goodness knows where, they probably wouldn’t have
relocated them to the… But now today they need
that land for pipelines, oil extraction, mines.
Nicole Rycroft: Absolutely. US, South America,
South East Asia. I think one of those sort of fault lines is really
obvious, and it’s around the relationship to land in western culture
has this relationship of one of dominion over
the land often times. So Mandy, perhaps can
you share a little bit, you know, to a non-native person,
the difference of how you experience
your traditional territories, as opposed to the western
concept of those same lands? And just the impacts that that has had on
your people as well as is continuing to have. Sure. So I’d like to also
say good morning. I would also like to acknowledge
the presence of my youth delegate who came from Canada yesterday
and a very interesting and long experience coming to the UK for the first time. Traditionally when we leave our community
we invite a youth and elder to accompany us. I had invited an elder to come but he was
not able to attend at the last minute. So, I was very disappointed that he could not
be here to share a part of his story as well. To be a First Nations person in Canada,
I actually can say that I feel very privileged. I think that our relationship as the Cree Nation,
I am from the Cree Nation in Northern Québec, Canada. We are a very young nation,
we are 18,000 members. Our traditional territory
is roughly the size of Belgium, so we have a very large land base. There are ten communities
in that territory. The majority of Cree people
living in these communities still live the Cree way of life.
They hunt, fish, they trap, they take resources
to live that Cree way of life. And I just want to explain
a little bit, in our territory, specifically the community of Waswanipi,
we’re 1,800 members. Our traditional trap line areas, a trap line
is an area where a family is allocated a portion of land to hunt, fish and trap,
they’re stewards of that land. Their role is to ensure
they monitor the wildlife, that they hunt sustainably,
monitor the resources and now in recent years,
have a new role of having a consultation process be put
on them, where they have to allocate areas of the forest that will be
harvested for the forestry industry. My community is impacted
by forestry at 90%. The last three remaining trap lines
that are left untouched by forestry are in the Broadback River Valley and this is what I came
to speak about today. So, this is the Mishigamish Falls, it is some of the last intact old growth
forest in our territory and in Québec. So we have been for 15 years negotiating
with the government to create protected area. This is some of the last area that the people from this family, the brothers, the sons, the grandchildren will hunt, fish and trap
the Cree way of life. Truly, the Cree way of life, without having to adapt
their methods, to trucks passing by,
people coming into tree plant. The Cree way of life is cyclical. So, in the spring
we have the goose hunt, in May we go to our bush camps,
we harvest geese. We were very thrilled when we drove by today,
Donovan saw geese so we were like, “There’s geese here?” So his instinct came to like, call out them. And in the summer time we go fishing,
we pick berries. In the fall we hunt moose and in the winter it’s a little bit of a quieter time.
You can hunt moose also in the winter time. So, there is a cycle of life that
goes through each season and I think this is some of the uniqueness that
First Nations have in Canada, is the connection to the land is so strong and is so
tied to our identity. You cannot be Cree without
having Eeyou Istchee. Eeyou Istchee is who we are. Eeyou Istchee is Cree land. So, the continued practice of forestry
harvesting in our territory is slowly taking over and changing
that culture itself. You know, even with the production
of my traditional clothing, a moose hide, this is a tan moose
hide that was prepared for me. Somebody kills a moose in the fall,
that moose is stored until winter. It is stretched, it is scraped
through the winter season, it is put away. In the summer time
it is taken out, it is soaked in water. It is then, in the late summer it’s
smoked with special wood that’s prepared in a in a fire.
And then this process takes the cycle of the year.
And I think that when you come in and you
disturb a cycle by just leaving these huge barren spaces where animals and where people were
once interacting with their territory, you’re just changing everything
about the Cree way of life. And I think that, for me, that’s what
I want people to understand is, yes, you can go in and cut a tree,
yes, you can go in, you can plant a tree again, but you have not recreated the forest. There’s no way
than man could recreate what nature developed. Thanks. Mandy, I think what you just said there is incredibly powerful
and it actually reminds me of something that, Victor, you were talking about yesterday,
which was this concept of poverty which is often sort of associated with indigenous communities
or traditional communities versus the concept of impoverished. What did you mean when you said that? Like, what Mandy just spoke to there actually
reminds me of that comment that you made. Yes, since the start of this forum with
the opening plenary, I’ve been listening, the same discourse
of poverty alleviation and, yeah, struggle against poverty but,
poverty for us is a consequence. It’s a consequence of systematic
historic series of facts and the current situation
where they are many people responsible for carrying out these decisions in businesses
and in policies to impoverish people, to impoverish land,
to impoverish ecosystems. Following on what Flaviano presented, that is the reality in many of our territories.
Indigenous people have been withdrawing to the very hard and remotest areas
of their territories under these
factors of impoverishment. I want to mention one single case when, for us in Guatemala,
is a very representative case of the Maya Q’eqchi’ indigenous people. Which now in the heart of the territory where
national protected areas are being implanted. Even there where they are they have been rich of many resources, knowledge,
traditions, connections to land. They are suffering the implanting of these
protected area called Semuc Champey, which is one of the top tourism destinations in my country. And the main reason government has to
implant this protected area is to bring development to these
communities. But in fact, what is happening it that they are
impoverishing these peoples, they are excluding them from the management of
the natural park, the natural monument of Semuc Champey, a very beautiful one.
And in the middle, a lot of interest across the Cahabón river,
of hydro-electrical projects managed by or given in concession to private companies in
the Maya Q’eqchi’ areas. So, I think we should stop of only thinking of poverty
as a problem but, poverty is a consequence and a consequence that is being
strengthened and making more great today. Yeah.
And maybe I can just flip that a little bit and it be less about sort of… because economic poverty is a real pressing
issue for many indigenous communities around the world. But sort of aside from and sometimes
not related to economic poverty there’s loss obviously associated with the impacts of large scale mining and forestry. And Mandy,
I’m wondering if you could share a little bit around your experience in terms of the loss that, you know, having 90% of your territory having being impacted by forestry.
What does that actually mean and how is that being contrasted for you? I would like to share an experience that I had. Our territory, like I mentioned,
is divided into 63 trap lines. My trap line, my family trap line,
is very south and the Broadback River is very North. As I began to work for my community,
I am a Deputy Chief, I got to encounter Don Saganash,
so Don, also known as Simon Nabel, he is the tallyman of the Broadback River. His trap line is the Broadback River. Don told me when I came to the Broadback with some NGO groups and media,
we were going to share this story. He said to me as we walked on this path,
“This path has been here for a thousand years. My father told me to protect this trap line, my father
asked me to make sure that the trees were never cut.” And I didn’t really understand the importance of that until I had this experience where we were with Greenpeace, and Greenpeace
took us in a helicopter and they had this great idea to make this huge banner that said,
Save The Broadback, and we laid it out in kind of like a swampy area. So, where I live, forestry is the norm. Since I was a child my grandfather
was going to these consultation meetings and giving permission for these cuts.
Never getting, it was always a give situation.
He never had the opportunity to say no, it was, you can go here or you can go here.
So he was always putting something on the table. When we would go into the bush passing these huge logging
trucks that are fully loaded seeing tree planters coming in
in the middle of the summer, totally the norm to me.
But when I went to The Broadback and we went up in that helicopter
and we passed over these huge forestry blocks that had just been cut, that was the norm to me.
But when I flew over The Broadback and saw this last intact forest and saw the density of how many trees there were
per cubic meter and just saw how old these trees were. In that moment I really mourned for what
I knew my family had lost. That my sons would never get the opportunity
to hunt in a forest like this, that my sons would have to live this
adapted Cree way of life. And I mourned for what I thought
that this family could potentially lose too. So to me, it was such a powerful event, it was such a moving
experience, and I was so touched to have that and to share
that and to really understand what Don had been fighting for.
For 15 years our community was really looking to negotiate protection. We did negotiate
protection, we did obtain a small part and I will share later on why I feel
there’s more work to be done. But, you know, I just want people
here to kind of understand, when I came to the UK, everybody kind of had this
perception that Canada was this endless, abundance of resources
and trees everywhere. And We have 33,000km of forestry roads, spaghetting through just my territory
and I’m a small little dot. Sorry, so if people
are looking at this, Mandy, it’s the red that indicates forestry and road impact? Mandy Gull: Mm hmm.
The red line is the commercial tree limit line. So, companies are not allowed to go
and harvest trees above that red line. But, that red line has been moved up this year.
So we were very disappointed that, you know, what we feel is such a delicate
resource now and there’s such a big demand on, is actually going to undergo more pressure. Which is all the more reason
why we fight for this river and to be protected. Thank you, Mandy. That’s an incredibly powerful experience and I think we all, probably everybody in this room, can share a similar experience, although
not obviously as personal as your one. I’d like to just pivot us a little bit along perhaps a slightly different fault line. You know, I think there’s fault lines,
there’s tension, it’s inherent within sort of
where the plates meet. And sometimes, you know, I think sort of there’s a perception
around conflict and tension that it’s a negative experience. But that tension that creates can actually be sort
of the catalyst for a lot of creativity. And so, I’d like us to just tap into a little bit more around how
sometimes that tension can actually be the trigger for getting things done,
for things changing. And I’d like to call on each of you
to sort of reflect a little bit around that, because sometimes knowledge isn’t enough, or actually having the legal right
isn’t enough. Sometimes there actually
needs to be an imperative to actually change the status quo,
to change the circumstance for the industry that’s operating
on the land base, and for the government than actually has been sort of giving the license for
these unsustainable practices to happen. So, I know that the experience
that we’ve had at Canopy is that in a landscape such as The Great Bear Rainforest,
it went from 90% of The Great Bear Rainforest being open for logging. 27 First Nations communities
who were absolutely ready to be engaged in decision power making over
their communities and their land, actually being largely excluded from that decision making process. To today, where The Great Bear Rainforest,
85% of it is now currently formally protected or off limits to logging. And First Nations are recognized in the government to government
relationship with the provincial government. That actually happened not because
of the incredible diversity. Well, it happened because of the incredible
diversity and it happened because First Nations governments were ready to lead, that the catalyst for actually having
recognition of both of those elements, was actually customers engaging,
large international customers of the forest industry, putting pressure on both the government and
the forest industry to come to the negotiations table, and then in the end to actually finalize
that agreement. And so, it wasn’t really until there was
an imperative or a catalyst for a change in the status quo that that actually happened.
So, Flaviano, you’re a scientist, you have the information. How do you get that information drawn through into actually a change in decisions? Well, yeah, first of all, I mean, I completely
agree with you when you said that we have to take conflict as an opportunity. There’s something that we say, I’m Italian actually
and there’s something that we say in Italy, that after the middle age in Italy and 500 years
of conquering and fighting, and then what happened, we had the renaissance, while in Switzerland they had 800 years
of peace and it goes with cuckoo watch. So… is that an EU joke there? Yes, sort of.
But I mean, it’s true that having this kind of conflict and
you can see how the… I have seen we now follow, with Source
International, 29 different projects in 16 different countries, and
a common pattern is actually that from this kind of conflicts
we can see nowadays, sort of renaissance of indigenous pride and indigenous communities how they start to protect more
their environment, their traditional way of life, their system. There is a problem
here, it’s huge clashof language, of word. I mean, we have been working in Amazon Forest in Peru. I was living there for four months and helping this indigenous community,
Shipibo-Conibo, in getting evidence about the human rights abusers and the pollution
caused by an oil company. And again I was quite astonished. I mean, those two communities
has a median age of death of 27 year. That means that half of the population
dies before their 27th year due to the oil pollution in their
groundwater and in their crops. But, when we finally set up a negotiation table, it seems like a movie to be on Mars or something like that.
Because you imagine a table done like this and on one side you have the indigenous community with their traditional clothing,
their traditional way of thinking, with their cosmovision that says how they are part of the land. And from the other side
you have the representative of the oil companies talking about the fact that they don’t have a paper
who recognizes their rights on the land. Talking about the fact that there is
no official border between their land and what they perceive as their land. So, the oil
company were perceiving like, “This is our land because we have a paper that says that we have the right to extract oil in this land.
” And the other one would say, “No, because you don’t own the land. It’s the land we own
ourselves as indigenous people.” So, the risk is enormous clash of thinking,
of speaking, of understanding the world. And that’s somehow I would refer the work
of Source International as a translator. Because we use science, we collect
scientific evidence in order to translate from what the indigenous communities
are thinking to what companies, governments, tribunals understand. So, that’s the key point somehow
to make those two worlds, after there is a conflict, and then take the opportunity,
but in order to take the opportunity from the conflict, you need those two worlds to talk the same language.
Nicole Rycroft: You’re the translator. Kind of.
Yeah. And how does traditional ecological knowledge fit into the work of Source International? Because that’s something that often times, you know,
Western science and then the traditional ecological knowledge of local communities,
sometimes there’s also there’s a little bit of a gap or separation between those as well?
Yeah, I mean we work on somehow in two different parallel worlds.
From one side, we are trying to rise up the traditional
knowledge into the mainstream. From the other side, we are also very realistic
and we know that if we have to go through a tribunal, we need also to have the western conception of science, or data at least. So if you want to sue a mining company, you cannot sue the mining company on going that the
water is part of the streams of the world and the people belong to the water, you know?
It’s much easier and much effective to sue the mining company because the water is polluted, and we have
data that the water is polluted. So, you have this kind of,
two different things want to rise up, both at the same time. Right. Victor or Mandy,
do you want to offer anything here? Just following on what Flaviano mentioned, I think one great potential of action as the title of these Forum cites,
creating this common ground, happens through the joint actions like Source
and my organization are starting to do. This translation is not only
about collecting scientific data, but also to understand people’s vision on their natural resources and to put it in
the way of legal actions, social pressure, visibility actions. We are lacking a lot of capabilities to be more
visible to the urban societies, to the cities, which are receiving the water we are protecting and the many, many other products, food, different fibers and many other
products from the forest we are protecting. One little example in the Guatemala South Coast,
where Source is collaborating with us, trying to make all the scientific work for the legal action we are preparing against bigger scale mono-crop agriculture,
mainly sugarcane and palm oil palm. They are helping us to understand how we can
propose to the government and to these companies what is called Environmental Flow.
In Spanish, we say Ecological Flow. The minimum amount of water that rivers should deliver
to the sea and to the coastal ecosystem, like mangrove, where communities
and fishermen livelihoods are. We are collecting scientific data but, we also
are collecting fishermen and fisherwomen testimonies about what’s been happening
in the last 25 years, after these big farms of sugarcane and palm are starting
to graph all the water from the river and from the soil. And the fishermen simply said, “Well, when we make social pressure and they release the river for one or two days
we have water in the mangrove. But water is not enough
and when the water reaches and the fishes catch in the small water areas
and circulate around the river. When the sun comes up and
the water is very hot all the fish die.” That testimony joined to the metrics
of water that Source does, are a strong element of our struggle
to make these companies to release the proper amount of water to these
communities, like an example. And I just want to pick up on one piece
that you said there, Victor, which is just, sometimes having the vision, having the plan,
having the science, even having the traditional stories, them by themselves isn’t enough,
they then need to be fed into a legal strategy or a public kind of agitation and leverage strategy, or markets campaigns.
So, Mandy, I’d like to ask you, I mean, in Canada, you have
customary rights, you have legal rights to your land and you’ve
had a plan in place for 15 years. And so, why is it that
the Waswanipi have invited in conservational organizations
like Canopy and like Greenpeace? What is it that you felt or feel the opportunity’s that have been
created by them have worked together? Well in keeping of
the theme of Skoll and the fault lines, I kind of feel like I live on a fault line
and I’ve been on that fault line for 15 years. We are a nation that did
win a lands claim settlement. There was a major hydro-electric project that
was built in our territory. We were recognized We do, from that, have a relationship
with the government, we have the ability to negotiate directly with
the Québec government. But, you know, we have to agree to the extraction of resources in
our territory as part of that too. And for me, the extraction process is so intensive
that it’s getting to the point of where the demand on this resource is so intense that people are fighting to
cut these last little territories of trees. So what’s the point, you know? Why not leave something standing? Why not recognize something?
Something natural, something real. And my community, we’ve been working on this for
15 years, really trying to negotiate a massive protected area. Two years ago we did obtain protection of
The Broadback River. Two thirds of it, the northern portion of the Broadback
River was covered with a protected area. North of The Broadback there
had been an extensive fire. So there was a large area of burned forest that was protected. And to us,
that was of no value. The Southern portion of The Broadback
Forest along the river is home to an endangered species, the Woodland Caribou. This area had been completely left open,
it represents one third of The Broadback River. We are looking and seeking and working
and pushing to ensure that Québec protects that last critical area.
To us, the work is not complete until we have an area that covers the wildlife that’s at risk. And, you know, in working with groups
like Canopy, I had the opportunity to participate in a fashion summit
that they held, having this dialogue with fashion companies that were coming in and talking about how they were sourcing
pulp for viscose for the clothing that they were making. In my territory, we had a lumber mill
that was recently transformed into a pulp mill. So we were very worried that we were kind
of heading down this path of additional pressure on our resources. And you know,
to speak to that component of change that Nicole touched on, you know, this file has been changing
for 15 years and I feel like it has been little winds along the way, but I’m looking for that last big change momentum. I’m looking
for my Québec Government to really follow through with what they said. I was very pleased that
two weeks ago they had contacted and sent us a document asking us to comment on that remaining portion of The Broadback River that
they wanted to have a dialogue on in protecting. So, to me, you know, my presence
here at Skoll is to really show that there is opportunity for change. That there is progression if you really
keep at something, if you have a plan, if you’re very committed
and dedicated and just keep telling your story
as many times as you can. Eventually it will reach the right
person and just snowball into something. And I really feel like the work that we’ve done with all of our NGO’s, and Canopy especially,
really getting us into that international forum and being here today is one of the steps
that we’re taking along that path. So, you know, I’m very open, I’m open to all
of the discussion that Québec wants to have and I do feel like, you know,
we’re in that last leg of the race, where hopefully we will see protection
of The Broadback River Forest. I think so too. I’m going to open it up, I think you’ve all been very engaged and quiet participants. And so, I think Brad is going to
be our mic runner. But maybe just as folks gather their thoughts
with questions or contributions to the conversation, I’d like to actually ask Donovan, who is 18, and a youth member
of the Waswanipi First Nations. He took his first flight
a day and a half ago and almost got held up at immigration at Heathrow.
But we’re lucky to have him here. Donovan I’m wondering if you could
just share what it was like for you? Like you’re a hunter, you’re a fisher. What it’s like, when the first time
you went out to the Broadback? Well, The Broadback is a very unique place.
It’s very amazing. I mean, if I can compare it to my dad’s land,
I mean, my dad’s land has been probably cut 60 to 70% of his land. So, the Broadback River is, the forest is like very,
you can barely go in places. So like, for an example,
when I went to Broadback with Mandy and… with NRDC. With NRDC and this guy
was flying the drone, like recording, and his drone died and fell
in the woods and it was like nowhere to be found. He was like, “Can you help
me find it?” And I was like, the guy who drove the drone almost got lost, like not even far from the camp and it was like, we were yelling
for his name and he was there like coming up like really sweating, panicking. But yeah, the wildlife
over there is very active comparing to my dad’s trap line. I mean, when we go, I went
hunting this past, no, two weeks ago, moose hunting. And this is an image of you, right?
Donovan: Yeah. That’s an image of me, yeah.And I’ve noticed like moose
in the most like south of my dad’s land,
the moose have like some sort of bugs on them and they
start coming, the fur comes off. Like, I have a picture
on my phone if I can… that one, my brother killed that one. I was taking out the kidneys. But, anyway, I’ve noticed, like Broadback River is very alive. Like, I look down and try looking
for the drone, and all I see is tracks of wildlife and everything it’s very amazing.
Yeah, it is amazing.
Yeah. Donovan: Yeah. And feel free to offer.
Anybody else? And if you can say who you are and
who you’re with, that would be great. Yeah. My name’s Patrick Alley, I work with an NGO called Global Witness. We look at areas where natural
resource exploitation is linked to conflict and corruption.
The first thing we ever worked on 23 or 4 years ago were forest issues, and forest and land
comprised about a third of the work we do. The other two thirds relate to oil and mining and resources from conflict zones. What we do is to investigate what’s going
on in given situations and try and expose that and change the law or to advocate with policy makers. I don’t have a question, I’ll be very honest. It’s just looking at this issue as I have globally for so many years, along with many, many other NGO’s, and of course, indigenous peoples
and local communities, we are not succeeding in getting to where we need to be,
I think that’s evident. In fact, the situation’s getting worse,
it’s what we call, “feral capitalism” We’re kind of in an era of resource colonialism, it hasn’t changed since the colonial power,
since the conquistadors, since the British empire,
since whoever it is, it hasn’t changed. And countless case studies and processes
around protected areas, they may have, there may be local wins,
but we haven’t got there. I’m not trying to depress everyone,
because I think I do have a suggestion, which is something
we’re trying to look at, which is basically changing the global
economic system. Now that sounds a bit ambitious, but I think genuinely it’s the kind of direction that we have to go in. We cannot, as humanity, exploit every last resource in every last place. And we have to start denying companies and the governments they work with, often corruptly, the rights to do that. And you know, we don’t have
enough time here to go into that. But I’m just sort of throwing this out there,
because we need to work more closely together. But a couple things to put in there. One of the things that you raised that
I think is really important is, you know, often the exploitation
is done on the premise, “Oh, this is a development. We’ll help these poor people get some
wealth and some income.” And of course, it doesn’t,
it’s not the way it works. But that’s the way people think.
I think Jim Kim in his plenary the other day got
off very, very lightly, given what’s he’s presided
over in the reduction of safeguards by the World Bank,
for example. A sad but effective methodology we’ve found is,
one of our colleagues from years ago, a Cambodian
activist, was murdered in 2012 for defending the forest. And we started on the basis of that, producing an annual report on the
killing of environmental defenders. And that’s proved by accident,
we didn’t see it this way, as a really useful window that gets people who may not be interested in indigenous people, or the environment, or rights, or resources, but they are
interested when there’s a story to be told. And when ordinary people are murdered for
defending their land, that gets wide traction. Well, and I think
that comes back to perhaps the concept that was being discussed by the panelist
earlier around power and how do you bring power and leverage. And some of the triggers
for that power and leverage come from very unfortunate and obviously very costly experiences. I know that you’ve probably
got a lot more to offer… No I was going to stop there, other than
to say, we just need to collaborate better. Indeed.
So, here and then Marguerite. Ashley, Donovan, can you pop your microphone over?
Yeah. I have two questions,
but if I can ask them separately so the second one doesn’t influence the first one,
I guess. My first one was that you mentioned that poverty
is a result of consequences and choices. So I was wondering,
what does justice look like for you? And what do you need to get there? I like that question.
Well, I can start with linking it to
what Global Witness was saying about poverty is probably a consequence of what is called development. You know, I mean the city of Cerro de Pasco,
the example that I was showing you before, is one
of the poorest places in Peru. Cajamarca is the second
gold producing region of America and it’s the second
poorest region of Peru. So, there is a bunch
of studies on this, on how the extractivism, or how the economy
based on natural resources, is actually a trigger for poverty. And so, I mean, cases in the local or a global scale. Even if you take a very local example, which is
the poorest region of United Kingdom? It’s Scotland, it is the region that produces oil. So, it’s basically all over the world
with the exception of Norway. There’s always bringing these exceptions, but that an economy based on natural resources is the trigger for poverty and not for development. And well, the concept of justice it’s kind of complicated. Sometimes you have to balance the concept
of justice with the concept of guarantee a decent livelihood to the people
who have been affected. So, of course, justice would have been that punish who has done the damages and
avoid that it happens again. But at the same time you have to deal
with people that then have to live their entire life without their forest
or without their water. So it’s some sort of a balance
sometimes that you have to do. I would like to answer that actually
with my last image, if you could put that up. To me, my perception of justice is really having, you know, allowing my community members
and future community members to practice the Cree way of life. So, I just wanted to
share this image because I think it is so powerful. The baby boy in the middle is Jamun,
his name is Jamun. He’s one year old. In my culture when you have a baby, your baby
does not touch the earth for the first year of life. It’s the mother’s role to make sure
that his feet never touch the ground. When he’s one, they build a teepee,
you’ll see in the back, the blue curtain, and he walks out of that on a path and he walks around this tree.
And I find it is so significant because Jamun is actually the newest grandchild in
the family of the Saganash family. So, The Broadback will be his
trap line when he grows up. To me, justice will be that Jamun can
continue practicing the Cree way of life. Here he is in his ceremony being introduced
as a new hunter, as the new steward of the land. To me, justice would really be having this
little boy having the opportunity to live in The Broadback, to grow up in The Broadback
and to protect and be a steward of The Broadback. For everything that we lost, the balance of having
this family be able to practice the Cree way of life, untouched, to me is justice enough. And I think that’s
a big compromise, but to me that’s justice. Following on what Patrick mentioned. We are certain that the current situation
in indigenous territories and threatening biodiversity conservation are a lot of
economic and political processes using two main tools. Violence and corruption. And for us, justice is an active way
to overcome those tools. Right now in my country, in the organizations
and indigenous people I work with, we have more than 50 people prosecuted, criminalized by defending their lands, their natural resources, and we are actively defending them. But on the other side, we are promoting local enterprises, community based business.
You are welcome to visit Guatemala, and despite all the dramatic
things I’ve been talking about, you can visit. I have done with friends and
people from other organizations in the world to visit a tenth of community managed
protected areas and tourism destinations. And we are putting in place and
trying to make more visible how other economic models are possible,
more just, more fair economic. And we need to push in both lines.
Denouncing, struggling for rights, trying to put back and to punish corruption processes that have been taken place. And on the other side, promoting not only what we are against to,
but what is our proposal to society. We need a lot of strength to do that to make it more visible, that’s where media and all the people working to help us to make it more visible is quite valuable. For us, justice is pushing in both directions. Great. I’m going to get you
to hold on part two if I can, just so that we get a couple
of other voices maybe. And hopefully we’ll get time and
if not then nobody’s running off directly. Margriet Schreuders: I will make it brief.
My name is Margriet Schreuders. I work for the Dutch Postcode Lottery and we’re
a funder of civil society within organizations. Over the last 25 years we funded
over five billion euros to organizations. So, I want to reflect what you said.
We saw as well that all the organizations working on protecting ecosystems, while they are successful locally but not a massive
scale, so we thought we need to bring skill to this solution. And we funded
a project of 15 million last year. We funded it in January for Greenpeace Hivos. It’s a Dutch Development Aid Organization, Witness, Article 19, several organizations. But also, COICA which is an umbrella
organization of indigenous people in the Amazon. And this project is working together with COICA, working together with these indigenous people,
to protect the Amazon on a massive scale. Bringing technology
to make sure that they can show the proof of the destruction
of their forest, of their lands. Also making sure that Greenpeace has
enough funds to bring these companies, to hold them to account, by naming and shaming, and making sure that the people in Europe,
or the people in the west, know what is going on, on a massive scale.
combining human rights concept and environmentalist concept together will show that
we can protect the ecosystems, but we need other funders as well.
So we gave the first 15 million, but I would especially like to urge the funders
here in the room to check out this project. It’s called All Eyes on The Amazon, it’s of Greenpeace. And see if you can also join in and fund this new way of working together
in this new coalition. There we go, an invitation
coming out of today’s session. And I would say my observation from The Great Bear Rainforest,
which lead to a landscape the size of Switzerland, like six and a half million hectares, with significant jewel sort of
pillars of conservation, and human rights, and philanthropic community, and their kind of substantive and long term engagement in
supporting both the capacity of the First Nations was absolutely critical in that landmark
agreement coming forward. So, thanks for that. Anybody on this side of the room?
I’m just conscious that perhaps I’m having a left-handed bias here. We’ve got a couple of minutes left. Okay, we’ll go there.
And snappy. Ian Hanna: My name is Ian Hanna.
I’m with the Forest Stewardship Council, and for those of you who are not familiar with this system,
it’s a market mechanism for certifying responsible forest management. So, at FSC we’re a member driven organization, we’re really a dialogue platform
across all forest interests and we’ve been working
very hard for a number of years to create empowerment and organizing
mechanisms for indigenous peoples. And we now have a very active
permanent indigenous peoples committee within FSC, that is completely
run and owned by indigenous representatives from all over the world.
I just want to put that out there as a solution and an ongoing dialogue trying to improve this bridge between global markets and the realities of indigenous peoples who want their cultures to live on
generation after generation, while still having the opportunity
to interact with that broader global market place.
So there’s a lot wrapped up into that, there’s the incorporation of free, prior and informed
consent. There’s the issue of intact forest landscapes, which we also
call indigenous cultural landscapes in recognition of that traditional knowledge.
So it’s really just an invitation to engage in a big, broad global dialogue about how we can build this bridge
across these fault lines. Thank you. Great, thanks. Is it like a thirty second? It’s definitely a question.
It’s a question? Definitely a question.
Excellent. So, I live in Toronto, and in Canada recently, a truth and reconciliation report
came out which is challenging us, who are non-indigenous,
to think about reconciliation. And so one of the things that I heard is that we can use, what we consider
to be, like scientific data as a way to talk to people like me to
understand. But I’m really curious about what do we need to change in how we understand?
Like, what would you want from us, so that it’s not only an indigenous
person’s responsibility to start talking like, people who look like me. But rather that there’s just more equalness happening and
I’m just curious about that. Mandy, can you give us
a 20 second response to that? I think for me, what I would like is for Canadians across Canada to
recognize that First Nations have taken on this role of being stewards to protect
not only their territories for themselves or for their cultures, but for Canadians
as a whole, you know? The Broadback is one of the largest
carbon storage basins in Québec. So, I’m saving that forest, not because
I want that little boy to go and hunt there, but because I know the carbon is stored there and is a benefit to Canada and the position
that they want to be in. So I would like to see Canadians acknowledge and understand that we carry
very big burden for ourselves as a nation, but we also do it
on behalf of all of Canadians. I’m as Canadian… I call myself First Nations
but I’m very proud to be part of Canada and I’m a Québeca, I’m very proud to be a Québeca and to know that Skoll was the idea of a
Québeca, and he brought it to this international forum. I just have to put that out there. Spoken like a true Québeca. Like, claiming it.
For me, it’s just acknowledging and realizing that we do it on your behalf as well. And I think that’s a great
juncture actually to wrap this conversation. I want to know her second question. You do want to know
her second question? So my second question was,
New Zealand recently gave legal human status to a river, it’s the only river in the world. And yeah, it’s wild, and it was
the indigenous community there that fought for that.
I’m curious what you think of that? What your thoughts are or your reaction? Okay, I’m glad we made space. Did you know that was the question? I am so amazed by that and
I want to know more about that, because to me it makes perfect sense, you know? Water is life, water is the driving force of life. Without water humans are nothing. So the fact that it reached
that level of recognition is… I’m kind of at a loss for words
because I find that so interesting. I would love to know more about that. I find that is a good path to take. Victor and then…
Yeah, just to say that the common ground among indigenous peoples across the world, which, we are quite diverse,
is that sense of a humble being considering
the rest of elements in life equals as human. So, I share what Mandy said.
We really want to know more and to impose these kinds of initiatives in our regions. Patrick, I’m going to invite you to share
your 15 second snippet afterwards. But I’m going to
wrap just because we are over time. Patrick Alley: It’s really an important one.
Really important. I’m sure it is and I’m just
going to hold us out… I shall be rebellious.
The International Criminal Court has accepted that land grabbing is a crime against humanity.
It’s a powerful tool. There you go. And I think in terms of the closing it really feeds into conservation and indigenous rights,
they are inextricably linked, right? This artificial barrier that western societies
have posed in the separation of person from nature is something that is a construct of our societies, rather than indigenous cultures. And I think that’s one of the great things about cultures,
is that they’re never static, they’re dynamic. And so hopefully
as being part of this sort of fault line and the fault line being sort of really kind
of a very significant cultural difference, is that western cultures will actually shift and change.
So, I really appreciated both of the questions that came from there. And then obviously, indigenous rights are, you know, they’re a fundamental human
right and they’re also absolutely essential if we’re going to
secure durable conservation. So, I want to thank all three panelists.
Please join me in giving them… Thank you for everybody for
allowing us to run five minutes over. But given that we started five minutes late,
it’s kind of, we’re right on time. Everybody, if you could please
fill out your little white forms. It was, I think, a really great move by the Skoll Forum to
actually add this content. And so please, so giving feedback
on just any value that you found coming out of the conversation
will be really valuable as they look to integrate and form their next agenda. Thanks a lot.

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