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The Role of Indigenous Resurgence in Marine Conservation

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journal contribution
posted on 2019-09-30, 07:01 authored by Suzanne von der Porten, Yoshi Ota, Andrés Cisneros-Montemayor, Sherry Pictou

Indigenous peoples’ efforts toward environmental conservation are indivisible from their cultural identity and their social and political organizations. Indigenous resurgence, including the reinvigoration and reestablishment of Indigenous ways of living, are linked to the management, restoration, and conservation of marine and coastal ecosystems around the world. However, there remains a significant gap in the recognition and support of Indigenous governance systems in international policy discussions regarding conservation work. As a way to address this gap, we offer an analysis of marine Indigenous community-led conservation initiatives from around the world that were recipients of the UNDP Equator Prize, framed by initial research on Indigenous-led conservation in British Columbia, Canada. We highlight specific Indigenous governance strategies undertaken by such communities that foster both marine resource conservation and stewardship. The strategies we identified included practicing Indigenous traditional resource management, protection of traditional territories, Indigenous-led actions of environmental conservation, and data collection and monitoring. We also identified networking and collaboration with non-Indigenous supporters, as was reinvestment into education and capacity-building within the community. We conclude with concrete policy suggestions drawn from these cases that can help strengthen the leadership and self-determination of Indigenous peoples on local resource and environmental issues, and aid in much broader conservation efforts globally.