On June 7, the Development Newswire reported: Slow progress in crafting a sustainable development road map that will be adopted at Rio+20 is fueling concerns that the U.N.-backed event would end in “complete collapse.” The challenge strikes at the heart of this month’s question: How do you see capacity development for improved local, regional and national EcoHealth goals to be realized?
The deep divisions between developed and less developed countries regarding concepts such as the green economy and Sustainable Development goals can perhaps be partially addressed by asking: Who are the leaders and who needs to follow? Globally we are facing runaway levels of greenhouse gases as the world is misled by countries such as Canada and their per capita emissions. Even within Canada, an examination of the ecohealth related principles of traditional Indigenous knowledge could provide national leadership – if Canadians as a country devoted energy to listening and recognizing the need to follow. There is a critical and growing need to embrace the Indigenous philosophy of decision making with an effort to consider the effects on generations into the future. The same as the government of Canada could build capacity towards national ecohealth goals by listening to the Indigenous peoples of the country, international forums could also recognize the leadership of less developed countries that are characterized by a more sustainable approach to the carbon cycle. Conferences such as RIO + 20 can perhaps benefit by focusing on process for consensus that is based upon small-scale accomplishments and philosophies; leadership from the bottom-up.
While there is often work done to study the sustainable approach to resource utilization in less developed countries; perhaps it is now time to look more closely at the dominate economic countries and cities. Developed countries perhaps need to follow the leadership of less developed nations and focus on reducing the dis-ease they are bringing on the planet. If we consider planet earth from the GAIA perspective, the developed states need to look for further wisdom, cut back on their technology-based disease and stem the global cancer of climate change. Perhaps every official vying for election in these countries should be confronted with the question: How will you take leadership from the more sustainable cultures of the world in promoting regional, national and global wellness for people and the environment? We can build ecohealth capacity within more sustainable cultures, by following their leadership and thus promote a new concept of ecohealth – where the problems are largest, in the more developed countries. We can only hope that the negotiators for the more developed countries at the RIO + 20 talks move towards promoting change and an enhanced bottom-up approach to ecohealth, to help realign global health and economy to be for all people, as some indigenous cultures suggest - looking forward 7 generations and beyond.
As identified by the International Work Group on Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA), RIO + 20 might best consider the following leadership agenda:
Indigenous peoples have identified 5 key messages for Rio+20, which they described in their contribution to the Zero Draft and which they lobbied for during the summit.
1. Recognition of culture as the fourth pillar of sustainable development.
This cultural pillar encompasses the cultural and spiritual relation to land and nature. Life in harmony with nature can only be realized through a culturally transformed vision of sustainable development.
2. Recognition of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as a standard in the implementation of sustainable development at all levels.
The human-rights based approach to sustainable development should be affirmed and integrated in the outcome document of Rio + 20.
3. The cornerstones of green economies are diverse local economies, in the context of poverty eradication and sustainable development, biodiversity loss and climate change.
References to “the Green Economy” in the Zero Draft must be changed to “green economies,” embracing economic diversity, including Indigenous Peoples’ diverse local economies, which are critical components of resilient economies and ecosystems.
4. Safeguard the lands, territories and resources, and associated customary management and sustainable use systems.
Beyond income, indigenous peoples and the poor need to have secured rights over their lands, territories and resources and be able to exercise their customary resource management and sustainable use systems, which are their basic sources of wealth and well-being - particularly in a situation of intensifying conflicts arising from resource extractive industries.
5. Indigenous and traditional knowledge are distinct and special contributions to 21st century learning and action.
Reference in the Zero Draft to learning and knowledge-sharing platforms must embrace Indigenous and local knowledge, and diverse knowledge systems, as equally important as science for the purposes of assessment processes, monitoring and defining indicators for sustainable development.
Read more about indigenous peoples' side events, international conference and participation before and during the Rio + 20 Conference http://www.iwgia.org/environment-and-development/sustainable-development/indigenous-peoples-participation-in-rio-20-