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Internacional day of indigenous peoples

27 years ago, by decree of the United Nations (UN), the world began to celebrate the International Day of Indigenous Peoples, on August 9. The creation of the commemorative date was the starting point for the drawing up of the “United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples”, a document that assured the original ethnic groups the right to cultural, political, social and economic self-affirmation - in addition to the full enjoyment of Human Rights.

But why is this celebration still so important? And what does it have to do with the Circular Economy?

Ponder with us...

The topics associated with the date bring to light an increasing sociocultural distance between two fields: societies that live within a linear logic supported by the overexploitation of resources, consumerism and the irregular disposal of waste, while native peoples, holders of knowledge - some millenary - try to strive on respecting the cycles of nature through a more harmonious relationship with the environment.

In Brazil, this tension between the consumer society and the importance of maintaining the land and the culture of the native peoples ends up fostering prejudice, misinformation and violence, as we have often seen in the news.

The linear economy - based on the production-consumption-disposal tripod -, therefore, directly affects sociobiodiversity. This is where the Circular Economy presents itself as an important alternative.

According to the National Indian Foundation (Funai), indigenous lands occupy around 13% of Brazilian territory. The percentage corresponds to 680 areas, 443 of which have regularized demarcation processes.

Sociobiodiversity shares with the circular economy the vision of generating more value to traditions through the sustainable use of raw materials from biodiversity, generating resources that benefit traditional communities and collaborate with the conservation of the environment.

“By promoting an economy that reduces the impact of human activities on the environment resulting from extraction and encouraging reuse, for example, would we not reduce the illegal search for resources in protected areas? The principles of the circular economy are inspired by biological cycles. Reuse and recycling give environmental cycles a breather, and can also generate a social breather”, ponders the pedagogical coordinator of Circular Movement, Edson Grandisoli. Hence, an important measure would be an increasing cultural approach based on a constant appreciation of the traditional knowledge of the native peoples.

“Science is not the only way of building and disseminating knowledge. There is a whole base that was created millennia ago and it is important, not only from a cultural point of view, but also from an educational point of view, teaching a more respectful lifestyle with nature. This is precisely what we have been moving away from thanks to urbanization”, he concludes.

Political participation and corresponsability

Brazil has around 350 indigenous ethnic groups, according to the 2010 Census of the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE). In other words, a vast sociocultural diversity that claims the rights established by the UN remembered on this date.

Politics must be a channel for enhancing this claim. Political positioning, without partisanship, is capable of offering visibility to the subject through the choice we make of our rulers. It is directly related to the degree of protection and respect for these peoples, even seeking to elect candidates from indigenous ethnicities.

“Bringing the agenda more forcefully into politics, valuing this diversity of perspectives is a good practice of the concept of co-responsibility, in which all actors in society play their role in making the economy more circular”, explains Grandisoli.

We need to get back in touch with and learn from the history of our native peoples, who have generated such strong heritages for our culture. The Circular Economy is one of the efforts in this direction.

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