A massive, United Nations-backed report on biodiversity confirmed that humanity is “sleep-walking” toward a mass extinction of plants and animals. According to the analysis, 1 million species are threatened with extinction. Human actions, which have significantly damaged land and marine environments, are largely to blame, with one exception. Wildlife managed by indigenous peoples isn’t doing as badly, and the report urges policymakers to listen to their expertise.
The comprehensive report from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services is the first of its scale to incorporate the knowledge of indigenous communities, a wealth of understanding that highlights three main points:
- On average, human-driven biodiversity decline happens less often in regions held by indigenous peoples and local communities — so there’s an opportunity there to learn how to better regulate resources outside of those areas.
- In order to protect biodiversity as a whole, policymakers need to know what’s changes indigenous communities are seeing. Historically, these communities and their expertise have been ignored.
- While indigenous peoples are the best stewards of lands, they are disproportionately affected by the negative effects of global changes in climate, biodiversity, and ecosystem functions caused by higher-income peoples.