For the family of indigenous Guatemalan activist Jorge Juc, the announcement last week by US President Donald Trump of an agreement declaring Guatemala a “safe third country” could not be more bitterly ironic.
There are an estimated 370 million indigenous people in the world, living across 90 countries. They live in all geographic regions and represent 5000 different cultures. These people are inheritors and practitioners of unique cultures and ways of relating to others yet are being forced to give up their ways of life.
Because the government has never provided them with electricity, indigenous communities in the mountains of northwest Guatemala had no choice but to generate their own energy.
The Global Landscapes Forum (GLF)
was held in Bonn, Germany to rally behind a new approach to achieving a future that is more inclusive and sustainable than the present – through the establishment of secure and proper rights for all.
Last week the Washington Post
published a scathing critique
by the executive director of Human Rights Watch, titled “Why the U.N. Chief’s Silence on Human Rights is Deeply Troubling.” Kenneth Roth argued that Secretary-General António Guterres “is becoming defined by his silence on human rights—even as serious rights abuses proliferate.”
In light of land degradation and climate change, the protection of the environment is crucial—but the protection of the very people working tirelessly and with much risk to preserve nature should be just as important.
In the stifling heat, Diego Matom takes the bread trays out of the oven and carefully places them on wooden shelves, happy that his business has prospered since his village in northwest Guatemala began to generate its own electricity.
The United Nations, as in so many other areas, gives lip service in support of Indigenous issues while lacking the political will and enforcement power over individual member states to comply with the protection of fundamental human rights for the Original Nations of Indigenous Peoples of the world.
A large steel wheel, 14 meters in diameter and 1.3 meters wide, could be the energy solution of the near future, generating 3.5 megawatts - enough to supply a city of 30,000 people, according to a company in the capital city of the state of Amazonas in northwest Brazil.
While residents across Prince Rupert, British Columbia are once again able to get safe drinking water from their taps, the boil-water advisory lifted there in late January should not be forgotten. Canada is a freshwater-rich country, but the time for complacency on essential water issues has long passed. Most people living in Canada have access to safe water. But drinking water advisories in the country about unsafe water have been concentrated in First Nation communities.
The ancient Qhara Qhara nation began a battle against the State of Bolivia in defence of its rich ancestral lands, in an open challenge to a government that came to power in 2006 on a platform founded on respect for the values and rights of indigenous peoples.
They are ordinary people – mothers, fathers, sisters, sons, daughters, brothers, friends. But for me they are extraordinary people – the ones who have the courage to stand up for everyone else’s rights.
They are the human rights defenders.
The remarkable story of an Adivasi lawyer and social activist who has led peoples’ movements against state development policies, and sought redress for human rights violations of his people in conflict-ridden regions of Maharashtra.
A school in the capital of Easter Island (Rapa Nui, in the local indigenous tongue) gives an example of clean management with the use of solar energy, rainwater recovery and an organic vegetable garden, as well as rooms and spaces built with waste materials.
Failing to understand the Adivasi world view and imposing the dominant development paradigm on Adivasi peoples is affecting their identity and well-being. The mainstream development paradigm has aggravated discontent among Adivasi communities. The reasons are not difficult to recognise—it encourages the siege of native resources, drives competition, is surplus-driven, instils private ownership, and consequently, is affecting the cultural identity of Adivasi peoples.
"We're in a very difficult situation. There is militarisation at a regional level, and gender-based violence. We are at risk, we cannot silence that," Aura Lolita Chávez, an indigenous woman from Guatemala, complained at a meeting of human rights defenders from Latin America held in the Mexican capital.
As High Forest Cover and Low Deforestation (HFLD) nations meet in Suriname at a major conference, it is obvious that the decision made by these countries to preserve their forests has been a difficult but good one.
Social activists and local authorities in Rapa Nui or Easter Island are calling for urgent action to address rising sea temperatures, declining rainfall, and rising tides that threaten their fishing resources and their Moais, the mysterious volcanic stone monoliths.
Life and death for whole communities hang in the balance of achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that include eliminating poverty, conserving forests, and addressing climate change in a resolution adopted unanimously by the United Nations in 2015.
Sustainable land management is becoming more important than ever as rates of emissions, deforestation, and water scarcity continue to increase. But what if you don’t have rights to the land?
While the impact of agriculture on land is well known, the relationship between land degradation and land tenure seems to be less understood.
Social organisations in the central Mexican municipality of Yecapixtla managed to halt the construction of a large thermoelectric plant in the town and are now designing a project to convert the installation into a solar panel factory, which would bring the area socioeconomic and environmental dividends.