Asia Indigenous Peoples’ Perspectives On Development

The mainstream development paradigm being promoted by capitalist countries is now proving to be very unsustainable with the worsening financial and economic crises adversely affecting the majority of the world’s population.

This form of modern development is very extractive and extremely destructive to the natural environment, exploitative by nature, highly materialistic, and mainly driven by greed and profit. It has also stirred more conflicts over the control of resources in trade through economic and political dominance. Worst, it has only benefitted a few countries while the majority remains in abject poverty. It has led to greater inequity and inequality with the widening gap between the poor and the rich people. Indigenous peoples across the globe are grappling with the impacts of modern development resulting to their further discrimination, exploitation, oppression and marginalization. They continue to suffer and remain subjected to the whims of the global market economy that continues to wreak havoc on their already deplorable condition.

However, indigenous peoples continue to practice and assert their distinct ways of life and worldviews. Despite the impositions of modern development on them, their simple lifestyles have proven to be more resilient and sustainable. Their traditional livelihood activities ensure food security and the conservation of nature for the survival of future generations. The traditional knowledge of indigenous peoples is becoming very crucial in addressing the impacts of climate change, as well as in developing more sustainable use and management of resources.

The present financial and economic crises are now igniting debates about more appropriate development paradigms as well as in developing alternatives that are more sustainable, environment friendly and equitable. The need for a paradigm-shift in meeting development challenges is now increasingly being recognized as social movements including indigenous peoples movements are gaining ground at the local, national, regional and international levels.

This publication on the Asia Indigenous Peoples’ Perspectives on Development is intended to highlight the views, concepts and principles of indigenous peoples relating to development that are consistent with their simple lifestyles and symbiotic relationship with their natural environment. This publication summarizes the results of the four Asia Indigenous Development Conferences organized by the Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP) from 2005-2008. It embodies the linkage of development with sustainable use and management of resources, the importance of culture and maintaining social harmony and cooperation through their own political and juridical systems, the transfer of indigenous knowledge, and the development of self- reliant local economies among others. It also includes invaluable concepts and principles that uphold the common good or the interest of the majority over personal interests, cooperation, accountability, humility and simplicity, and the regard for nature as the source of life that must be nurtured and protected. It also contains good practices and lessons learned relating to development by indigenous peoples in different parts of Asia. This publication also includes reference provisions in the United Nations

Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and other International Instruments upholding the rights of indigenous peoples to self-determined development. Since the theme of the 9th session (2010) of the UN Permanent Forum on indigenous issues (UNPFii) is on Development with Culture and Identity, this publication is also intended to contribute to the deliberations of indigenous experts as well as to draw the attention of states, UN agencies, funds and programmes on the development perspectives of indigenous peoples in Asia and to consider the recommendations in promoting sustainable development for indigenous communities. A summarized version of this publication was submitted to the UNPFii and included as annex to this publication.

With this publication, AIPP hopes to contribute in raising awareness on the perspective of indigenous peoples to development towards its greater recognition and appreciation. It also intends to generate greater reflection and re-thinking in the current debate on alternatives to the crisis-prone development paradigm that is causing more misery and hardship not only to indigenous peoples but also to the majority of the world’s population.

Click here to download this publication.

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