This side event will address the challenges of present approaches to water governance and sustainability for Indigenous peoples. It will examine the contributions of Indigenous knowledge systems as complete bodies of knowledge that include information about science, policy, law, cosmology and more. Furthermore, we will explore how best to respect Indigenous peoples and their governance systems which centre on understandings of water as a living entity.
Indigenous Peoples are critical actors in water governance and sustainability. Globally, there is a growing acknowledgement of Indigenous rights and self-determination. For instance, this is affirmed within 46 articles of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) (2007), such as article 25 which states:
Indigenous peoples have the right to maintain and strengthen their distinctive spiritual relationship with their traditionally owned or otherwise occupied and used lands, territories, waters and coastal seas and other resources and to uphold their responsibilities to future generations in this regard.
Indigenous Peoples should play a significant role in decision-making about water. Yet, these communities are underrepresented in international water policy. In this side meeting, we ask, what is needed to better engage and respect Indigenous peoples, their knowledge, and governance systems to address global water challenges? Indigenous governance, law and knowledge continue to be a major theme for decision-makers about water around the world, but Indigenous people continue to lack a voice and to be marginalized by historical and ongoing colonialism.
The UM UNAI SDG Hub working group is pleased to contribute to organizing this UN 2023 Water Conference side event with generous support from the Clayton H. Riddell Faculty of Environment, Earth and Resources, the Centre for Human Rights Research, and the Canada Research Chairs Program.