This summer has brought tumultuous weather events globally, a clear display of the threat posed by climate change to humanity and global ecosystems. Only by creating more just and equitable socioeconomic systems can we fortify the resilience of our communities and minimize the harm of this unfolding crisis. Part of this work must involve support for Indigenous reclamation of inherently sustainable traditional ecological practices and relationships with the natural world. How can we build a post-capitalist future that prioritizes people before profits and centers the ecological insights of Indigenous peoples?
In this issue of Praxis for the Planet, we explore Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK), emphasizing the key role of Indigenous understandings of and relationship to the natural world as passed down for generations in the fight for climate justice. We then foray into the emerging conversation about eco-socialism, drawing upon the work of prominent authors discussing inspirational vision and strategies for achieving a climate-just future.
The ecosocialist perspective holds an exciting vision for a more equitable, just, and sustainable future that serves the interests of all people. However, this is not necessarily a unified vision. Instead, there are a multitude of different, and at times conflicting, conceptions of how we might move forward as a movement. While these conversations are absolutely essential to creating a roadmap to the future, it is also important that they be grounded in the actual struggles confronting the movement while amplifying how victories were won. We need tangible action that can unite people into a multi-racial, multi-class, international, and intergenerational movement capable of taking on the most powerful corporations in the world. What steps, even if they are small, even if they are imperfect, are being taken at community, municipal, state, national and global levels, that advance the cultivation of a mass-based movement for climate justice?
We need to play the long & the short game – to see the forest and the trees. As we work to strategize for systemic socio-political transformation, we must also attend to the needs of local communities. Turning to traditional knowledge of how to care for the land, air and water is key to this mission. We owe most of the earth’s remaining biodiversity to the care and keeping of Indigenous peoples globally. Western scientists and governments are finally beginning to recognize the leadership and knowledge of Indigenous climate activists as crucial to mitigating the effects of climate change and creating a society that can exist in harmony with the natural world.
TEK practices are essential manifestations of care, solidarity, and survival outside of existing transactional and exploitative capitalist systems. We have much to learn from their efforts. Whether you’re doing the work on the ground or learning about it (check out Indigenous Climate Action’s Climate Leadership Program is accepting applications and runs virtually, September 16th-18th!), listening to or participating in movement debates and dialogues, or just starting out on your climate justice journey, our team at the Center wants to be a resource for you and your community. Reach out if you want to connect or have us highlight your work!
Global Center for Climate Justice