Building Resilience to Deal with the Threats of Climate Change, Extractive Industries and Loss of Ancestral Territories

Contributed by The Gaia Foundation, Sacred Natural Sites Initiative, Sacred Land Film Project

The purpose of this session was to convene a dialogue with indigenous custodians and others involved in protecting sacred natural sites. The session enabled discussion on the main themes arising from the earlier Congress workshop/session on “Sacred lands – dynamic archetypes for changing times” (S35), as well as other issues participants raised during the day.

The main objective was to share strategies for building resilience of sacred sites to deal with modern threats—from strengthening community governance and ritual practice, to raising public awareness, engaging in advocacy and education, registration of sacred sites, and developing legal strategies. The participants discussed common custodian-based guiding principles for the recognition of indigenous sacred sites systems and territories, namely the IUCN Motion and Guidelines around sacred natural sites in protected areas. They explored how to strengthen international recognition of sacred sites from an indigenous perspective.

The event re-affirmed support for the Statement of Custodians of Sacred Natural Sites and Territories (The International Union for Conservation of Nature World Conservation Congress (IUCN WCC), 2008) and the Opinsaht Declaration (ISE Congress, 2010). Participants also reflected on how best to approach international meetings and film screenings of the “Standing on Sacred Ground” documentary series during 2012-14 to gain more support for the protection of sacred natural sites.