As the world grappled with the COVID-19 pandemic throughout 2021, Indigenous Peoples continued to respond to the virus in their traditional and innovative ways while also contending with the daily discrimination they continuously face.
The Indigenous World Editorial
The Indigenous World Editorial serves to document and report highlights on the developments of Indigenous Peoples globally every year. As part of the Indigenous World publication, the editorial provides an overview of the chapters within.
In some editions, the editorial, as well as the individual chapters, will have a thematic focus to provide a deeper analysis of a particular aspect concerning the situation of Indigenous Peoples. For example, in 2019, the thematic focus was on violence, criminalization, harassment and the lack of justice that Indigenous Peoples face; in 2020, it was on climate and the long-term effects climate change has on the lands, territories, and collective rights of Indigenous Peoples; in 2021, it was on Indigenous Peoples during the Covid-19 pandemic; and in 2022, it was on the contribution and situation of Indigenous women and girls and their rights.
Constituting just 5% of the world’s population, Indigenous Peoples protect 80% of the planet’s biodiversity.1 Globally, many of the remaining standing forests are on Indigenous lands and territory. At least 24% of global carbon stored above ground in the world’s tropical forests, or 54,546 million metric tons of carbon, are managed by Indigenous Peoples and local communities.2 This is a result of the historical stewardship of Indigenous Peoples in the sustainable management of forests.
“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win”. This legendary quote accurately describes the stages that movements and social conflicts often go through and indigenous peoples’ struggle and resilience is no exception.
2020 was an unprecedented year for the world’s population who experienced a once-in-a-lifetime global pandemic. Indigenous Peoples – armed with knowledge and experience spanning generations from having faced contagious illnesses and other pandemics – responded to COVID-19 with traditional as well as innovative new methods for protection and prevention; all against the disproportionate discrimination and marginalisation they come up against every day.
Juana Raymundo from Guatemala was only 25 years old when her life was cut short. Juana was an indigenous rights defender, a nurse and a coordinator at CODECA, a human rights organisation promoting the rights of indigenous farmers - in particular to their lands. She disappeared on the evening of 27 July 2018. Her body was found the next day.
As the world gears up for the 10th anniversary of the UNDRIP, indigenous peoples’ right to fully participate in the decision-making processes that affect their lives and futures continues to be at the heart of their struggles worldwide. The events unfolding over the last few years clearly demonstrate that, without the full and effective participation of indigenous peoples in decision-making at all levels, implementation of the UNDRIP will not be possible.