There are more than 375 million indigenous people in the world. The guardians of a rich knowledge of the natural world, intricate cultivation systems, animal husbandry, and the use of traditional medicines, they represent a treasure of cultural diversity, including more than half the world’s 5000 to 6000 languages. Indigenous people practice innumerable ways of living together with respect for fellow human beings and the environment. But it is estimated that within the next two decades, as indigenous communities continue to be decimated – in many cases driven from their homelands and forced into sweeping and harmful lifestyle changes – more than 50% of the world’s languages will disappear. If this happens, knowledge systems, rich oral traditions and artistic expressions that have developed over millennia will also disappear and the loss to humanity will be irrevocable. Ida Nicolaisen looks at the status of indigenous people around the world, with a special focus on the impact, in socio-economic and health terms, of the obesity-driven diabetes epidemic and makes a call for solidarity with these most vulnerable groups.
indigenous people, Torres Strait Islanders, Nauru, Tonga, Inuit, UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues