International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples important to mark says Inuit org

A view of the United Nations Headquarters in New York on September 27, 2018. On July 28, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution declaring access to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment, a universal human right, an important step for Indigenous People, says the Inuit Circumpolar Council. (Angela Weiss/AFP/Getty Images)

August 9 is the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples and the Inuit Circumpolar Council says it’s an important moment to mark progress on issues important to Inuit. 

On the International Day of Indigenous Peoples, we want to remind our governments and the international society, that Indigenous Peoples must be at the table in the continued implementation of the right to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment,” Sara Olsvig, international chair of the Inuit Circumpolar Council said in a statement on Tuesday.

“Protecting the Arctic is to protect the planet,” says Sara Olsvig, international chair of Inuit Circumpolar Council. (Courtesy ICC)

On July 28, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution on July 28 declaring access to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment, a universal human right.

At the time, UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres said it was an important step towards removing environmental injustices towards many groups, including Indigenous peoples.

“The resolution will help reduce environmental injustices, close protection gaps and empower people, especially those that are in vulnerable situations, including environmental human rights defenders, children, youth, women and indigenous Peoples,” he said.

Resolution important step towards protecting Arctic

ICC said the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples was good time to highlight the important step. 

“Recognizing the right of a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment as a human right is a paradigmatic shift in the World’s view on human rights, and on our environment,” Olsvig said. 

“For decades, Inuit have advocated for governments to recognize that the human rights of Inuit are deeply and directly affected by climate change and by pollution of our land, waters, and air. The UN General Assembly recognition of a clean and healthy environment as a human right is an important step in holding governments and businesses accountable for the protection of our Arctic environment.”

Raising awareness 

 The International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples was established by the UN in 1994.

The UN says the main goal is to raise awareness about the needs of the Indigenous Peoples around the world. 

August 9 was chosen because it’s the day the UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations met for the first time in 1982. 

ICC represents the approximately 180,000 Inuit in Alaska, Canada, Greenland, and Chukotka, Russia.

Write to Eilís Quinn at eilis.quinn(at)cbc.ca

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Indigenous wildfire knowledge to be key part of new Arctic Council project, Eye on the Arctic

Finland: What a Saami-led salmon rewilding project in Arctic Finland can teach us about Indigenous science, Eye on the Arctic

Russia: Oral histories unlock impact of climate change on nomadic life in Arctic Russia, says study, Eye on the Arctic

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