Mining Conflicts and Protecting Indigenous People and Environment
May 8, 2023
The protection of indigenous people‘s rights is a concern shared by many indigenous groups around the world. They face the same harsh realities, despite having different languages and traditions, evacuation from native lands, denial of the right to express their tradition and culture, physical abuse, and many more that one can imagine. Although development is important but not at the rate of exploitation of someone to such an extent that they have to leave their homelands. Nowadays, it is very common for big companies to tell these people about various benefits they will receive if they allow them to use their land and made them sign documents about which they have little knowledge.
As they were unfamiliar with the new era of technology and its various legalities, these people took advantage of the situation. In many countries, mineral extraction and the construction of dams have resulted in the forced evictions of large numbers of indigenous people and their families without appropriate compensation. Numerous groups have been forcibly relocated from national parks, and tourism-related growth in some nations has led to a significant in indigenous people being displaced and living in poverty. If indigenous peoples have responded and attempted to stand up for their rights, they have been subjected to physical abuse, detention, brutality, and even fatality in the majority of cases. Climate change has become a real thing for too many indigenous populations, and they are progressively recognizing that it is not just an environmental factor, but also one with serious relation to the growth.
As a result of mining, ecosystems, and landscapes can be severely affected. Companies engaged in mining often have monopsony power over certain regions and other than providing stable employment and infrastructure development, mining companies are incredibly influential in their areas of operation. We have seen many cases of exploitation in years of indigenous people, one of the recent cases is the mining bill in Brazil. The Amazonian indigenous people outnumber all others on the planet and the Brazilian government recently introduced legislation in Congress to regulate commercial mining on indigenous lands. This type of activity reveals indigenous peoples to remote victimization, chemical spills, and viral diseases. A land rush has been prompted in lithium-rich areas due to the importance of lithium-ion batteries for smartphones, laptops, and electric vehicles.
Indigenous peoples are frequently marginalized and discriminated against in legal systems which makes them even more helpless to violence and abuse. Most importantly, companies working on indigenous lands should not assume that whenever a mineable body is discovered, they have an automatic right to mine it. After all, respect must be shown to the indigenous people’s lands for them these resources may very well have non-monetary worth. Resource extractors may have to acknowledge that the possibility of mining is non-negotiable in some cases. The distinction between appointment and bargaining is thus crucial: the latter term denotes a formal commitment to striking a deal that indigenous people never wanted to do.
Rights, Territories, Mining, and Environment
Indigenous peoples are deeply connected to their lands, territories, and resources on a spiritual, cultural, social, and economic level, which is fundamental to their very identity and existence. The government and the big corporate houses and many others still crave their lands as a result of which they continue to look for ways to get them. The mere recognition of the problem is not enough we have to find out the solution in order to come out of that problem. Indigenous rights and the state of their living conditions are urgently in need of protection and improvement, not only because it affects their lives but many a time all such activities cause global warming and climate change. Protecting critical ecosystems, waterways, and biological diversity is also achieved by promoting collective rights to lands, territories, and resources.
The Forest Rights Act of India of 2006 recognizes scheduled tribes’ rights to forest lands under individual or collective occupation through village assemblies. On the other hand, we also have many countries that still exploit indigenous people and their rights. Thousands of indigenous families and persons have been displaced without adequate compensation for the construction of large dams, mining projects, and many more such activities in the name of development. These forced ejections had a serve impact on children and women both mentally and physically. Indigenous peoples face even more marginalization, poverty, disease, and violence, as well as the possibility of extinction as a group.
Influence of Climate Change on Indigenous Population
Climate change is a condition that affects everyone in the world, not just indigenous people because no one is immune to it but to some extent, we can say that climate change has a more severe impact on the indigenous community. Even though indigenous peoples contribute the least to greenhouse gas emissions, climate change poses a threat to their survival around the world. One of the major issues confronting indigenous peoples as a result of climate change is that many often have to migrate from their own land to a completely new location due to harsh climatic conditions, which they do not do in other circumstances. This restricts their access to remedies as most of the time these people are not very educated and in this new world of technology, it becomes very difficult in new geographical areas to manage their livelihood.
The worst part is that their food system is being harmed by climate change, such as droughts and the loss of wildlife because they eat food collected from their surroundings. Climate change presents a major challenge to indigenous peoples’ very survival, and various political and regulatory barriers limit their ability to deal with and respond to it.
As time passes, these people step forward to save the planet and themselves from climate change. They adopted the Kyoto Protocol in 1997 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and also received support from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in 2004. They took small, steady steps toward climate change, and the International Labour Organization declared that indigenous peoples played a critical role at the forefront of climate action at the 16th session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. Furthermore, they positioned themselves as key players in the achievement of SDGs 13, 14, and 15 in 2017. Indigenous peoples are one of the first to perceive the consequences of climate change due to their overdependence on it and personal proximity to the ecosystems and biodiversity.
It is indisputable that indigenous peoples have been recognized; however, legal recognition does not imply that indigenous peoples’ rights, territories, resources, or cultures are treated with dignity and respect. They are marginalized and frequently face discrimination due to a lack of adequate resources, and these new technologies are very new to them, as a result of which people took advantage of them because they did not understand the legalities of the situation. When they try to protect themselves and their lands from this so-called development then these big people labeled them as terrorists as they don’t have the proper resources to prove themselves innocent they have to suffer a lot.
People are ignoring the fact that indigenous people have extensive knowledge of nature and command of the woods and ecosystems. They know how to use land sustainably so that climate change can be mitigated rather than exacerbated. People all over the world begin to target them because we always target the easiest to crack. No matter how much we talk about sustainability and climate change, nothing will change unless we take real steps toward it rather than taking advantage of the situation and exploiting others.
Indigenous knowledge is a vital tool for combating climate change and protecting the environment, therefore it must be supported and preserved.