Arctic voices from the frontlines of a warming world : the importance of indigenous knowledge in the climate change discourse

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Waters, Eleanor
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Global Campus
Arctic ice is melting at unprecedented rates, drastically altering arctic ecosystems, habitats, and lifestyles. Due to their subsistent ways of life, indigenous peoples have comparatively contributed very little to climate change, yet they are among the first to bear the brunt of its negative effects. Arctic indigenous peoples see human-induced climate change as a human rights issue, closely intertwined with self-determination and land rights. The various indigenous voices of the Arctic tell us they want to defend their cultures and will not be mere victims. They are increasingly vocal and involved in local, regional, and global solutions. The research in this paper reveals the impacts of climate change on traditional arctic ways of life. The contributions of indigenous ecological knowledge to adaptation initiatives are assessed and indigenous worldviews with inherent ties to the environment are discussed. A case study exposes the challenges of incorporating indigenous knowledge in Western science and politics. The Arctic Voices have a groundswell of support among scientists, researchers, environmentalists, and humanitarians yet there is very little government policy or action to help them combat the potential risks of climate change. As Arctic peoples continue to amplify their voices, policy and decision makers must listen in order to reach ethical and sustainable solutions to this crisis. Keywords: climate change; arctic; indigenous knowledge; indigenous rights; policy
European Master’s Degree in Human Rights and Democratisation, EIUC
Arctic regions, climatic changes, indigenous peoples