Indigenous youth build climate resilience in Nepal
What is at stake if Indigenous Peoples’ knowledge is not passed down to today’s youth? Quite simply, the planet as we know it! The reality is that Indigenous Peoples are guardians to almost 80 percent of the world’s remaining biodiversity. Representing six percent of the global population, Indigenous Peoples’ territories cover 28 percent of the Earth’s surface, and 11 percent of the world’s forests lie within these territories.
With highly self-sufficient food systems, indigenous Peoples’ sustainable approach to producing and consuming food offers a stark contrast to global agrifood systems, which are responsible for one-third of all food that is lost or wasted, and a third of all greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Unsustainable food production, packaging, and consumption entrenched in agrifood systems not only contributes to climate change, but also uses 70 percent of the world’s freshwater, and drives biodiversity loss.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Green Climate Fund (GCF) have been scaling up investment in projects that uphold Indigenous communities’ way of life to ensure that traditional knowledge is passed down to the youth – the future stewards of the world’s forests and biodiversity.
Indigenous youth build resilience in Nepal
In Nepal, indigenous communities are actively involved in an FAO-led GCF project focused on restoring ecosystems in the Churia region – an area critical for food and water security thanks to the major river systems that run through the hills and down to the heavily populated Terai plains.
Indigenous Peoples represent 31 percent of the direct beneficiaries of this forty-seven-million-dollar initiative (implemented by FAO in partnership with the Government of Nepal), which aims to combat forest degradation, soil erosion and flooding by halting unsustainable land use and restoring ecosystem health.
Indigenous youth, including young women, are active participants in the “Building a Resilient Churia Region in Nepal” (BRCRN) project. They are engaged in activities that range from planning and designing a critical ecosystems restoration plan for each river system, to raising awareness about their cultural practices and local knowledge, which play a key role in promoting sustainable and climate-resilient food systems.
For example, 82 indigenous youth (43 women and 39 men) have received training at the provincial level on climate-resilient land use, such as ecosystem mapping and land monitoring using geospatial tools.
Breaking down barriers for women and girls
Climate change affects women and girls disproportionally, which is why narrowing the gender gap in natural resource management is essential to the project’s success. The initiative’s critical ecosystem restoration plan breaks down barriers for women and girls, recognizing their potential as climate champions who can promote sustainable land-use practices.
The initiative will advance the Government of Nepal’s goal to increase forest cover to 45 percent by 2030, and ensure that all vulnerable people including women, Indigenous Peoples and local communities are protected from the impacts of climate change by 2030.
By safeguarding Indigenous Peoples’ rights and traditional knowledge, we preserve hope for a more inclusive and sustainable future for all.
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