Traveller's Teacup

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Posts Tagged ‘unu’

the right to listen, to be heard and to adapt

Just got back from a whirlwind UN meeting in Mexcio City. Just when things couldn’t get anymore dissertation deadlined, I went and shot some interviews at a joint UN-Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change workshop “Indigenous Peoples, Marginalized Populations and Climate Change“.

IPMPCC Opening address by Francisco Barnes-Regueiro from (Mexico's National Institute of Ecology), together on panel (Left to Right) Doug Nakashima (UNESCO), Sam Johnston (UNU) , Vincente Barros (IPCC), Terence Hay-Edie (UNDP), and Jaime Webbe (CBD)

And I was rewarded with what I heard. After doing one-man-band interviewing of community knowledge custodians, ethnographic academics, IPCC lead authors and the Chair of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, it was as though, all of the hard climate study so far was verified. The meeting’s technical report and outcomes plus the humbly created voxpop interviews are yet to come but in the meantime there were two things I wanted to share…

After listening to case studies from the Arctic Reindeer Herders and Inuit Ocean Hunters, African subtropical pastoralists, Andes-Amazonian watershed farmers to Micronesian ocean navigating fisher people, there was wide suggestion amongst the group that Indigenous seasonal calendars across the world are drastically changing and possibly systematically collapsing. It is worth thinking about because this emerging trend in global research evidence may have enormous institutional and structural implications for everyone (think both local and industrialised food systems and security).  Importantly, its also worth thinking about for Indigenous communities, because known traditional knowledge adaptation methods are already heavily stressed by factors such as development, anti-migration borders, socio-economic positioning and political marginalization. If we are serious about adaptation, there is much restructuring work to be done.

Closing speech by Myrna Cunningham, Chair of UN Permanent Forum of Indigenous Issues[Closing speech by Myrna Cunningham, Chair of UN Permanent Forum of Indigenous Issues]
Final IPMPCC plenary session

Secondly, in my view, it was evident, that in order to work with Indigenous cultural knowledge appropriately, there was enormous capacity building needed amongst higher education institutions. In particular, capacity building that centred around equity and authorship amongst both Indigenous and non-indigenous collaborators.  I think days should be numbered for the classic old school research methods of modern/western expert scientist and indigenous community research participant.  There is much to learn, share, mentor and support, but as wise Peruvian Dr Tirso Gonzales said to me, there is no google translator for an indigenous person’s environmental understanding. Perhaps an interesting capacity building transition phase may be similar to Indigenous film-making protocols, whereby seeking Indigenous collaborators/partners or rough draft approval with knowledge custodians is an essential element of the project’s funding process.

If we truly are to move to a post-enlightenment society, capacity building must start by institutional acknowledgment of Indigenous intellectual property, custodial rights, human rights, territorial rights and Indigenous self-determination.

Dinner - (left to right) me, Edwin Castellanos, Doug Nakashima, Anne McDonald, Jaime Webbe, Igor Krupnik, Saul Vicente Vasquez [..and some cultural activities such as Mexician feasting with some of my colleagues]Edwin Castellanos, Doug Nakashima and Anne McDonald with two local musicians at dinner, Mexico City

“Entering the snow leopards lair” story

A short story, I wrote about my recent snow leopard horse trek in Russian Altai’s remote Argut Valley was published today on the UNU’s Our World 2.0 site.  Enjoy and please share with friends!!

“The Altai mountain pony below me stumbles on a wobbly rock. I breathe in sharply as loose shale slides off the cliff’s edge and bounces towards the frozen Argut River below. Aduchy, my indigenous Altaian guide, twists around in his saddle and re-counts his travel companions. He motions for me to lean forward. Over the Siberian wind’s howl, my interpreter Irena loudly translates in her thick Russian accent: “Sit forward to help the climbing horse.” … read more here

And a rather wild and woolly shot from the field… here we are in the back country of Argut valley, Siberian Altai, Feb 2010. About -20 and Irena my beautiful Altaian friend and translator, is following on horseback. it was one of those days….the sun was shining and the heart was free and happy.

3 traditional knowledge climate films selected for Australian human rights festival

Three of our Media Studio’s Our World 2.0 short documentaries “Land has Breath”, “The Forbidden Forest of the Dayak”, and “Fighting Carbon with Fire” have been selected to screen in 5 cities across Australia, as a part of the Human Rights and Arts Film Festival 2010.

They are part of an 18 month UNU project from 2008-09 (there are some previous posts about the filmmaking process of these docos on this site). These community collaborations, carrying important Indigenous climate change perspectives, will be screening in the festival’s “Reel Change – Climate Change shorts” program.  Other films in the line-up include the resounding short film “The Water Diary” directed by Jane Campion (The Piano), which premiered at Cannes Film festival 2006.

If you are in Moscow, this shorts program has recently been invited to screen there later this summer. We are busily adding the russian subtitles, and I’ll let you know when Russian dates are confirmed.

For Australian bound bodies, check HRAFF festival website for full program with specific venue dates/times.

PERTH 15 MAY – 23 MAY.

Originally posted on

Exhausted after COP15 Indigenous voices on climate change film festival

Writing from a hotel room in Stockholm… the film festival was a success, lots of people, lots of discussions, and much opportunity to further tour the stories within international festivals, human rights events, community centres, museums, universities etc…more later but in the short term just wanted to share with you the blog and photo posted on the UNU’s website.

Generally as you may already know, we are all felling sad with how things have stagnated at the climate negotiations currently.. I hope this week, the real leaders in the room will stand up and be a wise global council for the people of the world!… and…. decide to reevaluate the pile of “not negotiable” market agendas that were decided weeks before this event.

If only plants and animals could lobby!

Below is a mobile phone photo i took when Tuvalu’s negotiator Ian Fry (Australian) voiced his concern for the negotiations direction. He was immediately backed by PNG and also China asked for further considerations. You can just make out the COP15 Chairperson Honorable Connie Hedegaard talking (off-microphone) with UNFCCC colleagues. If you have time, please watch the link to Ian Fry’s later speech on youtube  below. I have also pasted the UNU Carterets video if you are interested at seeing the current situation first hand.

Photos from the Mongolian Gobi

Here are some recent snaps from my filming mission in the Gobi desert, Mongolia. As mentioned, have been shooting a small UNU story about the disastrous desertification of the Gobi. The story will focus on the efforts of a small Gobi/Japanese research project.

Technical word of advice: if you are taking camera equipment into the desert…. make sure you take aerosol of canned air, a self-pumping air brush in your pocket and an air-proof camera bag (eg pelican case). Even with all this, absolutely everything was caked in dust… every evening!