Join us at Africa Climate Week 2023: Indigenous Knowledge Systems for Adaptation Actions in Africa
As guardians of 25% of the world's land, our knowledge holds the answers to tackle climate challenges through collaborative, multisectoral efforts.
In Africa, the greatest threat faced by Indigenous Peoples is the growing impacts of climate change. However, Indigenous knowledge is an effective climate solution. Indigenous Peoples’ land management techniques are not static but instead adapt to the shifting needs of the land and environment. Indigenous Peoples contribute little to greenhouse gas emissions while maintaining the largest carbon stores on Earth within their territories. Effective and long-term solutions to climate change must involve Indigenous Peoples as key stakeholders.
To learn more, join us at a side event at Africa Climate Week, organized jointly by the FSC Indigenous Foundation and African Development Bank, Indigenous Knowledge Systems for Adaptation Actions in Africa. The event will take place on Friday, September 8, 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm in Abedares Hall and will foster a dialogue between Indigenous leaders and key stakeholders to identify opportunities related to traditional, local, and Indigenous techniques for sustainable land use and climate change adaptation.
Find more information below.
Indigenous Innovative Solutions: discovering Maya cultural richness through the lens of Alex Pérez Ventura
Photography is one of the innovative Indigenous solutions when it comes to young photographers like Álex Pérez Ventura. Get to know his work.
This year, on International Youth Day and Indigenous Peoples’ Day, we highlight Indigenous youth as the driving force of change, seamlessly blending deep-rooted traditions with an innovative vision of the future. Meet Alexander Pérez Ventura, whose photographs have captured the cultural richness of his community, the Maya Mam People in Guatemala, showcasing the harmonious link between heritage and modernity.
Through the lens of Alexander Perez Ventura, several projects have shown the world the cultural richness of his community, the Maya Mam People of Guatemala. Alex is also part of the group of talented young Indigenous Peoples, winners of our photography contest “Innovative Indigenous Solutions 2022.”
At only 24 years old, Alex has built a prolific career as a photographer, community journalist, documentary filmmaker, filmmaker, and amateur poet. His work has captured the world’s attention, showcasing the cultural richness of his community and his deep love of photography.
The art of storytelling
Alex describes himself as a passionate traveler who seeks to learn the stories of different Indigenous Peoples and document them. Through his lens, he materializes and disseminates diverse historical contexts, connecting their past with his vision for the future. “I like to travel through Indigenous communities to learn about their histories and document them, to materialize and disseminate the diverse historical contexts, to know where I come from and thus understand where I am going,” he assures. His current challenge is to explore the world of independent filmmaking, taking his creativity and unique perspective to new dimensions.
Alex’s work is steeped in natural landscapes, particularly visual depictions of lakes and waterfalls. These depictions are a reflection of the Indigenous cultural landscapes characteristic of his community, with which they also hold a deep ancestral connection. “The Tz’utujil People have a special and important connection with the lake, because it is considered as ‘La abuela ya’, from the ancestral thought power and positions are ephemeral, dignity and memory is permanent”, explains Alex, who also considers that this thought keeps the Mam People, as the great protector of their natural resources, against practices such as pollution, deforestation, and mining exploitation. “All this, under a vision that focuses on justice and respect for the land,” he maintains.
His work also illustrates powerful Mayan ceremonies, which consist of honoring all the elements of the earth as living elements. “Everything has life; the stone, the trees, the plants, the rivers, and so on. That is why we are always grateful to these elements that help us to stay alive. During our harvests, holidays, or special days we thank the elements of water, air, earth, and fire, with a Maya Ceremony in sacred places, accompanied by ancestral music,” explains Alex.
Alex has gained a place of leadership among the youth of his community through his dedication to photography. He has participated in various artistic spaces of empowerment, such as film festivals and forums, where he has given voice to numerous Indigenous youth and conveyed their messages to the world.
Likewise, Alex always remembers his grandparents, around the fire, sharing their stories of Indigenous resistance during the armed conflict in Guatemala, between 1960 and 1996. The testimonies of his ancestors have led him to use the power of photography and visual arts to do memory exercises.
Discover the depth of Maya culture through his lens, see the photo with which he stood out in our photo contest, “Children of the Earth”, and be captivated by the beauty and meaning that is revealed in each image he captures. Check out more of Alex’s work here.
Sara Omi, Coordinator of the Economic Empowerment Plan for Indigenous Women of Panama, will speak about the FSC Indigenous Foundation and our Indigenous Peoples Alliance for Rights and Development (IPARD) Program
To commemorate International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, on Wednesday, August 9, 2023, at 10:00 a.m. ET, USAID’s Inclusive Development Hub will host the virtual event, “USAID & Indigenous Peoples: Co-creation Efforts and Lessons Learned.” This event will showcase the impact of co-creation efforts that support Indigenous Peoples issues in Latin America.
You will hear from Agency partners and USAID staff working on the ground with Indigenous Peoples in Guatemala, Panama & Colombia. Speakers will include:
Aj’bee Jimenez, Senior Advisor for Indigenous Peoples Issues, USAID/Guatemala
Sara Omi, Coordinator of the Economic Empowerment Plan for Indigenous Women of Panama, FSC Indigenous Foundation
Karina Ballén, Senior Manager in Mental Health and Psychosocial Care, International Organization for Migration
Diana Aguas, Differential Approach Specialist, International Organization for Migration
USAID Deputy Administrator Paloma Adams-Allen and Senior Advisor on Indigenous Peoples Issues Stephanie Conduff will provide opening remarks.
Empowering Winners, Inspiring Communities: The Impact of the Indigenous Innovative Solutions Photo Contest
Join us in meeting Kevin Ochieng Onyango, a participant in the latest edition of our Indigenous Innovative Solutions photo contest. This is the first in a series of profiles highlighting the winners and exploring their journeys and achievements beyond the contest. Get inspired by their remarkable work and discover the impact they continue to make.
Kevin Ochieng Onyango, a talented 25-year-old photographer and climate activist, stood out as one of the winners in our “Indigenous Innovative Solutions” photography contest 2022. Specifically recognized in the “Innovation and Climate Change” category, Kevin’s inspiring journey originates from Siaya County, Kenya. He belongs to the Luo Indigenous People, whose ancestral land is intricately intertwined with “Nam Lolwe,” also known as Victoria Lake. In Kevin’s own words, “Nam Lolwe” signifies “something that seems to have no end” in the Luo language. Nam Lolwe forms part of the Indigenous Cultural Landscape of the Luo, serving as a vital resource and a social hub for the local fishing community. “Some of the traditions and some of the beliefs and superstitions are based on the stories from the lake,” says Kevin.
Photography to Inspire Indigenous Innovative Solutions
Kevin’s passion lies in using photojournalism and media tools as a means of social advocacy, shining a spotlight on the issues affecting his community and the environment at large. With a primary focus on climate change, his work aims to educate and raise awareness about the devastating effects it has on Mother Nature. “This can be done in the form of screenings, in the form of exhibitions to my community. This has turned out to be very helpful, because they have come up with some innovative solutions that have been implemented. For example, the regenerative agriculture approach.” Kevin firmly believes in the transformative power of photography, capable of sparking crucial conversations and driving the implementation of policies to safeguard his community’s land from degradation and the vulnerabilities associated with climate change.
Indigenous Cultural Landscape
Deeply rooted in his community, Kevin’s artwork reflects the profound connection that the Luo People share with their Indigenous Cultural Landscape. “Nam Lolwe,” the lake where his ancestors have lived and transmitted knowledge through generations, serves as a source of inspiration and identity. Through his lens, Kevin captures the essence of this ancestral bond and the resilience of his community in the face of environmental challenges.
Inspiring the Next Generation
Kevin is driven by a desire to inspire young Indigenous individuals to use photography as a powerful tool for raising awareness about environmental and social issues. “My dream is to create a network of young photojournalists and storytellers who are advocates and activists of the climate through training them on photo reporting and journalism skills. This will give the younger generation the most important tool which is having a voice for the environment and hence raise a responsible generation,” says Kevin.
“The Last Breath”: A winning photo of the Indigenous Innovative Solutions photo contest
Kevin used a powerful name for the masterpiece that made him a winner. This poignant photograph encapsulates the urgency to address climate change and its impact on Indigenous communities. Admire the winning photo and other compelling images that showcase the captivating world of the Luo community below and see more of Kevin’s work here.
Stay tuned to our social media channels to discover the profiles of the remaining winners, as we continue to highlight the transformative power of Indigenous photography.