Importance of indigenous learning to achieve UN goal of combating desertification, drought

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Chandra Vikash, an Indian Institute of Management (IIT), Kharagpir, and Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Kolkata alumni, currently chief mentor and innovation coach as also convener the Global Academy for Indigenous Activism (GAIA) Innovation Lab, in a letter to Dr  Chinmay Pandya, pro-vice-chancellor,  Dev Sanskriti Vishwavidyalaya, Haridwar, has said that recently, as part of team of several youth, civil society organizations (CSOs) and journalists, he attended the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, Land Degradation and Droughts (COP14), held in Delhi.

A biennial event addressed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi among several other world dignitaries from 196 nations, Vikash has sought the institute authorities’ intervention in indigenous learning for achieving the COP14 goal of combating desertification, land degradation and droughts.

According to Vikash, he and his team would particularly like to study in the campus townships and spiritual centres like Haridwar-Rishikesh on their land use and other experiences in order to restore land fertility and forestation, adding, “We shall be there from 26th September to 1st October.”

A summary of the the proposal by Vikash to the institute authorities:

Lots of the deliberations in the past 10 days of the #COP14 of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification #UNCCD has hinted at a key role of indigenous knowledge and practices to overcome the challenges of Desertification, Land Degradation, and Droughts (DLDD). This, however, calls for a deeper and incisive inquiry into how various agencies of the United Nations might be working at cross-purposes that perpetuate and deepen policy instruments and action that undermine the indigenous ecosystem and economics that might be a critical and integral part of solutions that can avert the worst consequences of DLDD and runaway climate catastrophe and usher towards a safe healthy, harmonious and prosperous future for humanity as a whole.

These non-indigenous or post-colonialist instruments such as “innovative risk financing” stifle and suffocate the saplings to spring back and sprout from under the debris of centuries of colonialism and even more dangerous and disguised neo-colonialism.

Despite a good number of reforms, many of these assumption – such as Financialization of Land, Forests and other Natural Resources using poorly regulated currencies – continue up till date and are by now institutionalised in various operating guidelines and processes of various UN agencies and programs such as World Bank, IMF, UNIDO that are working at cross purposes with other agencies related to ecological conservation and restoration such as UNCCD, UNCCC, UNEP. It is necessary therefore to elucidate a key aspect of the indigenous wisdom that is violated by the non-indigenous construct of the current global system of financialization.

In the indigenous, the gross, material or physical are by design localised and only a miniscule amount of a few produce from outside the local area (roughly a radius of 20kms) comes from outside for a way of life suffused with good health, prosperity and abundance while maintaining 100% biodegradability and ZERO waste of water, land or air that is not naturally recycled and leaves behind any toxic residue for now or for later.

The gross to the subtle is also represented by the indigenous Five Elements framework with Earth as gross to Water to Fire to Air and then Space as the most subtle. This also indicates that though the gross is bounded the subtle and subtlest are abundant and beyond they merge into unbounded wholeness of cosmo-genesis. It is the subtle, spiritual or the metaphysical that is globalised that is expressed by the indigenous abstraction of Vasudhaiv Kutumbakam or the Earth and all the beings as a Family.

The fatal flaw with the prevalent global financial system is that it tries vehemently out of ignorance and ill-will stemming out of their ignorance to globalised the gross material and physical in creating scarcities or fuelling greed and avarice, it unnecessarily produces and moves lots and lots of goods and people around the world in ways that are toxic and ecologically hazardous and glorifies this as Development measured most commonly as GDP and GNP in Fiat currencies.

In doing so, it artificially assigns “Fiat currency” values to both gross and subtle, material and spiritual elements and diverse things they form. As the background story is wrong and waylaid, droughts, land degradation, and desertification are its natural outcomes that we can’t alter without revisiting the fundamental premises – the assumptions, motivations and deeper beliefs however hard we try. It is similar in a way to how the vast and rich repertoire of diverse indigenous knowledge that evolves out of the unique geo-climatic conditions of a region is lost in translation to English, French, Portuguese or Spanish, that many of the regions inherit as a colonialist legacy and the financial information of the global economy only makes it harder for them to cast off the colonialist burden.

LACE model that stands for Localised Abundance and Circular Economy (click HERE for detailed presentation) might just be a way out not just for the local regions to combat land degradation, drought, and desertification but for humanity as a whole.

8 thoughts on “Importance of indigenous learning to achieve UN goal of combating desertification, drought

  1. Thank you so much for publishing my insights from #UNCCD COP14 and our plan to disseminate its learnings and action plan to youth in various educational institutions.

    A key part of our action plan that you may like to add, is to implement LACE model that stands for Localised Abundance and Circular Economy. You may in this regard like to add this presentation on the link here:

    and this note here:

    Sustainable Development Goals, Cultural Diversity and Smart Cities


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