The number of indigenous people in the Philippines remains unknown, but it is estimated to be between 10% to 20% of the 110 million national population. Mostly subsistence farmers, herders, fishers, and hunters, the IPs have millennia of collective knowledge about the ecology of the surroundings. With such knowledge and experience, even tiny changes in water cycles, wildlife, soil, and weather are readily apparent to them.
For years, indigenous communities have had early warning about global warming and have suffered its impacts to a far greater degree than others. However, adaptability and resourcefulness have become the hallmarks of any indigenous people’s culture when it comes to dealing with climate change. For IP communities, resilience to climate change is rooted in traditional and historical knowledge, as their capacity to adapt its impacts is based first and foremost on their in-depth understanding of the land they are occupying.
Indigenous peoples and their cultural heritage must be mainstreamed in climate action, and pursues the development of programs for mainstreaming IPs and their cultural resilience in the local and national policies and plans.
We must advocate for the indigenous people’s rights to be protected in the best way possible, in recognition of the solutions they provide to many of the world’s problems from climate change to biological diversity.
As we heed the climate challenge, let us work vigorously and maximize the opportunity to harness the potentials of the IPs as agents of change and transformation as we advance climate actions and sustainable development at all levels.