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 women of the Emberá Ipetí community preserve and share their ancestral knowledge
Indigenous women are creators and guardians of culture, and their identity and belonging stem from this role. Recognition of identity and culture is crucial for the personal, social, and economic empowerment of Indigenous women.
“Our cultural value, our identity, our language, will not die. That our way of living does not die, that our dance does not die, that our hair does not disappear, that our water does not disappear, that our way of being does not disappear. So, that is why identity is very important, because we want to continue resisting. Because nobody will value us, nobody will recognize us, nobody will respect us, if we do not maintain our identity in order to resist,” says Omaira Casama, leader in the Emberá Ipetí community located in eastern Panama.
To develop a methodology for the restoration of cultural references of the Indigenous Peoples of Panama and apply it in a first pilot project, we worked in co-creation with the women of the Emberá Ipetí community. ENRED Panama and Norlando Meza of TV Indígena supported this project.
Together we gathered a vision of the Emberá culture, based on the empowerment and self-determination of the women and men of the community. The community identified the thirteen priority cultural references to be mapped and documented in two focus group sessions, each lasting 6 hours, in which a total of 17 women and 4 men participated.
None of this work could have been accomplished without the community, its traditional governments and representatives, and without their free, prior, and informed consent.
Everything is collective
An important element of the Emberá culture is that everything is collective, including the process to restore cultural practices. “Starting with the spiritual theme and the vision that spirituality teaches us, is that our way of living is collective,” explains Omaira.
“We cannot only see a theme of cultural rescue with a single woman or a single young woman or a single man. Because what we live is a collective coexistence. The food is not cooked by just one woman, it is cooked by all the women who come to talk, to tell that story and it is always the adolescents and the girls who are learning, so that is why it also has to do with a process of sharing, with a process of teaching and with a process that the food we are giving is healthy, that everything is natural.”
Embera face and body painting is linked to their cosmovision. It is one of the most important manifestations of their culture. Painting each other’s skin expresses the relationships between the members of the community, where each plant, each animal, and each element has a place in their cosmovision and a reason for being.
Methodology and database
The methodology developed in the pilot project presents a tool to provide Indigenous women with an organized and authentic vision of their culture to enhance social cohesion, transmission to youth, communication, and generation of economic activity.
The guide establishes three main categories of cultural references:
The structures and dynamics of community life
Relationships in the territory and with the land of their ancestors.
Everything points to a continuum between nature and culture, natural order and social order, and individual and community. In addition, time and the calendar occupy a prominent place as a meta-element. Time, in this case, is presented as the way to move forward, to develop the rescue of cultural references.
“We Indigenous women need organizations, like the [Indigenous] Foundation, that give us hope, that give us confidence to continue challenging the process of social construction of Indigenous women, because many times when we do not have that confidence, we do not have those strategic allies. There are many people who continue speaking on behalf of Indigenous women and that is what we are not looking for. Maybe we have been able to reach their thoughts and their hearts and to be able to implement this great project of the needs and aspirations of Indigenous women, so that this knowledge can be transmitted from generation to generation,” says Omaira.
Future pilots will be carried out with other Indigenous communities of Panama to expand the Database of Cultural References and involve more Indigenous women in the cultural restoration process for empowerment, the transmission of knowledge to future generations, and for the promotion of economic activity.
There are different forms of cultural houses: the bat house, with a trunk in the center, representing men, and the women’s house, without a trunk because the women support themselves collectively.For the Emberá community it is important to take good care of nature and build the house with love, for the good of the new generations.
Introducing the second season of the podcast “Indigenous Voices”
Indigenous leaders discuss traditional knowledge, successful Indigenous businesses, and Indigenous women's rights.
On the International Day of Indigenous Peoples on August 9, the FSC Indigenous Foundation launched the podcast “Indigenous Voices” to recognize the global value of Indigenous Peoples, their rights, livelihoods, territories, and natural capital. In the episodes, we have conversations with Indigenous leaders to listen and learn from their experiences, knowledge, opinions, and analyses related to the global issues we face as human beings.
In the second season, we learn more about Indigenous women’s challenges, rights, and victories. We also learn about the role of traditional knowledge in the fight against climate change and the values, principles, and lessons that have made Indigenous businesses successful. This season features leaders and experts from Taiwan, Panama, the United States, and Kenya.
Episode 5 – A sustainable future for all
In the fifth episode of “Indigenous Voices,” Su Hsin, Indigenous civil engineer and human rights advocate of the Taiwan Papora Indigenous Development Association, discusses the challenges faced by Indigenous Peoples in Asia in securing their rights. She highlights the importance of involving Indigenous women and youth in the effort to ensure a sustainable future for all.
From her experience in risk management, Su explains how traditional knowledge can help combat the crises humanity is facing, especially the effects of climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As an Indigenous civil engineer, I know how to build a safe environment for the people. I use my traditional knowledge which I learned from my ancestors, and legends and stories, to know which places around the mountains and rivers are dangerous to build.”Su Hsin
Listen to the fifth episode here.
Episode 6 – Women changing the world
In this episode, Aulina Ismare Opua, first elected cacica of the Wounaan People of Panama, discusses the situation of Indigenous women in Panama and Latin America, their participation in national and international leadership roles, and the importance of generating female empowerment initiatives that strengthen the capacities of Indigenous organizations.
Aulina will share the story of how she became the first woman cacica of the Wounaan People, the responsibilities and challenges this represents in her life, and her projects to strengthen the participation of Indigenous youth and women in Panama.
“We are going to represent, we are going to make Indigenous women visible in the future: today, tomorrow, and forever.”Aulina Ismare Opua
Listen to the sixth episode here (in Spanish).
Episode 7 – Education towards women’s empowerment
In the seventh episode of “Indigenous Voices,” Agnes Leina of the Samburu People, Director of Il’laramatak Community Concerns and Gender Coordinator of IPACC, shares the reality of Indigenous women and girls in Kenya.
Agnes highlights the need for changes in communities that allow for better education, more opportunities for women, and the need to fight against female genital mutilation. In order to eradicate violence against Indigenous girls and women, Agnes states that it is necessary for women to be leaders in their communities so decisions will be made in favor of Indigenous women and girls.
Examining the root causes of gender-based violence, Agnes discusses the climate crisis that causes droughts and the shortage of food and water generated by the COVID crisis.
“Women need to sit in political leadership positions, and once they are there, they are able to make decisions. If you are not at the decision-making table, what do you expect? Unless you are at that table, everything will be decided and you will be left behind.” Agnes Leina
Listen to the seventh episode here.
Episode 8 – Succesful Indigenous companies
In the eighth episode of “Indigenous Voices,” we speak with Derik Frederiksen, director of FSC USA and member of the Tsm’syen People of Southeast Alaska and British Columbia.
Derik will tell us about his experience in forest conservation, his first experience of climate change, and his commitment to advancing Indigenous rights and culture to protect ancestral homelands.
He also speaks about Sealaska, an Indigenous company located in Southeast Alaska that works for and on behalf of the communities in the area.
“The decisions that we make as a People and as a company have largely been with the mindset: Whatever activity we do, whatever endeavor we embark in, we look at it through the lens that we want to be here for at least the next 13 thousand years.” Derik Frederiksen
Listen to the eighth episode here.
Music and sound identity
The music for “Indigenous Voices” was developed to show the global diversity and current identity of Indigenous Peoples, combining traditional and technological elements.
A full musical piece was composed for this podcast, entitled “Pueblos.” The composition is in the key of E minor as this tonality is one of the most used by Indigenous Peoples around the world. The main melodies have a modal character with a strong influence from pentaphony. They are played by a duo of “ngoni,” a West African stringed instrument whose timbre is similar to the harp, lute, banjo, and birimbao.
The composition also features a vocal section that combines male and female singers, strengthening the sense of multiplicity and wholeness. The voices sing the word “Peoples” in different languages, including Indigenous languages: