Climate change is often viewed as a scientific problem requiring technical solutions. However, there is a growing recognition, voiced by Indigenous activists and leaders, that it also represents a social crisis rooted in the historical legacy of colonialism and extraction. A new paper published in Ambio argues for the decolonization of climate research and the inclusion of diverse knowledge systems alongside Western scientific methods. The paper emphasizes the importance of epistemic justice, which involves the full recognition and inclusion of different ways of knowing in climate solutions.
The paper recommends practices for governing climate issues at the local, national, and international levels to achieve epistemic justice and true partnership between local communities and top-down institutions. It suggests six policy instruments for decolonizing climate research and planning: full consultation with Indigenous peoples and local communities, free, prior, and informed consent on projects affecting these groups, recognition of customary law, intellectual property rights for Indigenous communities, Indigenous data sovereignty, and preservation and promotion of Indigenous languages.
The paper acknowledges that these instruments are not a simple solution to the historical effects of colonization, nor do they guarantee equal power or parity for Indigenous communities. However, they offer a means of transforming the power relations between Indigenous peoples and Western scientific and governmental bodies.
Transformative change is required to decolonize climate research, a process that takes time and commitment. The authors caution against single-mindedly focusing on climate solutions without considering the means taken to achieve them, as this risks perpetuating the marginalization of Indigenous peoples. The goal is to transform the power relations and process of climate research, encouraging radical research, partnerships, and risk-taking that acknowledge and confront epistemic hegemony and decolonization.
The paper originated from a working group led by Ben Orlove and Passang Sherpa, collaborating with Indigenous and non-Indigenous authors. The authors hope that their recommendations will inform the U.N.’s upcoming climate report, promoting the inclusion of diverse knowledge systems at the core of transformative climate research.
Ben Orlove et al, Placing diverse knowledge systems at the core of transformative climate research, Ambio (2023). DOI: 10.1007/s13280-023-01857-w
State of the Planet
This story is republished courtesy of Earth Institute, Columbia University http://blogs.ei.columbia.edu.
Study highlights six tools for decolonizing climate research (2023, June 23)
retrieved 24 June 2023
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Shambhu Kumar is a science communicator, making complex scientific topics accessible to all. His articles explore breakthroughs in various scientific disciplines, from space exploration to cutting-edge research.