Table of Contents

Climate Change and Indigenous Peoples

Climate Change and Indigenous Peoples

The Search for Legal Remedies

Edited by Randall S. Abate and Elizabeth Ann Kronk

Indigenous peoples occupy a unique niche within the climate justice movement, as many indigenous communities live subsistence lifestyles that are severely disrupted by the effects of climate change. Additionally, in many parts of the world, domestic law is applied differently to indigenous peoples than it is to their non-indigenous peers, further complicating the quest for legal remedies. The contributors to this book bring a range of expert legal perspectives to this complex discussion, offering both a comprehensive explanation of climate change-related problems faced by indigenous communities and a breakdown of various real world attempts to devise workable legal solutions. Regions covered include North and South America (Brazil, Canada, the US and the Arctic), the Pacific Islands (Fiji, Tuvalu and the Federated States of Micronesia), Australia and New Zealand, Asia (China and Nepal) and Africa (Kenya).

Chapter 6: Indigenous environmental knowledge and climate change adaptation

Maxine Burkett

Subjects: environment, climate change, environmental law, law - academic, environmental law, human rights, law and development, politics and public policy, human rights


Certain climate change impacts are now unavoidable. The importance of adapting to climate change impacts has become increasingly clear, particularly at the local and regional scales. Many entities are looking to community-based adaptation as a place-based response, and a vehicle for empowering individuals, families and peoples. In regions across the world, including the Pacific, an appeal to indigenous environmental knowledge (IEK) is also emerging. This chapter explores the possible integration of IEK into the laws governing climate change adaptation. Integration of IEK, in the adaptation context, describes at least two different phenomena. It describes the indigenous methods used to respond to historical extremes that climate forecasts portend with greater frequency and severity – such as floods and drought – and suggests proven adaptations. It can also describe a lens, or worldview, with which decisions should be made that might facilitate long-range, multigenerational adaptive governance.

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