Climate Change: Risks And Opportunities For Aboriginal And Torres Strait Isl...
- via Indigenous Peoples Resources by IndigenousPeoplesAdmin on 4/30/09
Climate Change: Risks And Opportunities For Aboriginal And Torres Strait Islander People
Thursday, 30 April 2009Climate change poses a major threat to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander lands, waters and resources in Australia but also provides new opportunities in emerging carbon markets, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner Tom Calma, has said in the Native Title Report 2008 which was tabled today.
The Native Title Report 2008, produced annually by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner to analyse major changes and challenges in the Native Title system over the previous year, explores the issues of climate change and water resources and what the government’s policies mean for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
"Climate change is insidious and is of immediate concern to the physical health of Indigenous communities," Commissioner Calma said.
"Maintenance of traditional life, language and culture are threatened by climate change but if we work together and we work quickly, we can sustain them and seize the new opportunities presented."
Commissioner Calma said Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people had much to contribute to mitigation efforts and in developing ‘culture based’ economies in areas such as biodiversity conservation, land and water management.
"It is clear that Indigenous Australians are major stakeholders in developing and advancing a national climate change policy," he said.
"To date, however, there has been little attempt to foster genuine, coordinated and sustained participation by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
"If we move now to ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are actively engaged in all levels of management and decision-making that affect their livelihoods and communities, we can benefit from Indigenous traditional knowledge, land management and conservation practices.
"This will be crucial to responding to climate change, maintaining biological diversity and preserving important ecosystems."
The Native Title Report 2008 examines the challenge of climate change for Australia’s Indigenous peoples and the support they require to put in place adaptation and mitigation strategies. The Report also analyses how greenhouse gases and carbon abatement will rely heavily on Indigenous lands and waters and reiterates the importance of obtaining the free, prior and informed consent of Indigenous peoples.
Mr Calma said, according to the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, Indigenous people had the smallest ecological footprints of the world’s communities and should not be asked to carry the ‘heavier burden of adjusting to climate change.’
"Australia’s recent endorsement of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is particularly important for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in responding to climate change as there are currently no laws in Australia specifically protecting people from climate change impacts," he said.
The Report includes case studies on the water management and climate change issues for the Murray-Darling Basin as well as the current and future climate change considerations for the Torres Strait Islands.
"A lot of work is required to turn around the health of the Murray-Darling Basin but for the region’s Indigenous communities, these efforts are urgent and critical."
The Native Title Report 2008 is available at http://www.humanrights.gov.au/social_justice/nt_report/ntreport08/
NOTE TO CHIEFS-OF-STAFF/EDITORS
The Social Justice Report 2008 and the Native Title Report 2008 will be officially launched in Sydney at Turner Hall, Building B, Ultimo College of TAFE, Mary Ann street, Ultimo, at 10.30 am for 11.00 am on Monday, 4 May 2009.
The launch will include an introduction by The Hon Catherine Branson QC, President, Australian Human Rights Commission, a keynote address by Tom Calma, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner and Race Discrimination Commissioner, and also a panel discussion of ‘A new agenda for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples?’
Media contact: Louise McDermott on (02) 9284 9851 or 0419 258 597
Peter N. Jones, Ph.D.
Director: Bauu Institute and Press <http://www.bauuinstitute.com>
Publisher: Great New Books Reviewed <http://newgreatbooks.blogspot.com>
Editor: Indigenous Issues Today <http://indigenousissuestoday.blogspot.com>
Editor: Indigenous People's Issues & Resources