Secretary Haaland Discusses Climate Impacts with Indigenous Youth at COP26 Event

Last edited 11/05/2021

Date: Friday, November 5, 2021


GLASGOW — Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland hosted a virtual question-and-answer session today with Indigenous youth to discuss the impacts of climate change on the rising generation. During the “Elevating Indigenous Youth” event at the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26), Secretary Haaland heard from youth from around the globe on how climate change is affecting their communities as well as actions they would like world leaders to undertake to achieve our international climate commitments for future generations.

“Indigenous youth recognize that the traditional life ways that are being threatened by climate change are grounded in the outlook that will lead us out of this crisis,” said Secretary Deb Haaland to the Indigenous youth. “Science includes Indigenous knowledge. Our bold action to address the climate crisis is rooted in Indigenous knowledge and the voices of Indigenous youth.”

The youth represented diverse Indigenous voices from across the globe, including representation from the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Micronesia, Kenya, Ecuador, Alaska, and Maine.

During the event, Secretary Haaland discussed how she became “climate aware” in her youth and affirmed the importance of Indigenous voices in solving the climate crisis. She also emphasized the importance of taking bold climate action to ensure that current and future generations can enjoy access to our lands, waters, and wildlife.

“We all have a lot of work to do, but I want young people to know that every time I consider the impacts of decisions we make at the Department of the Interior, I think about the generations to come who will have to live with that decision,” added Secretary Deb Haaland. “Today, we are at the turning point and though we face the climate crisis, the voices that are here today give me hope for the future.”

Via pre-recorded videos, invited school children shared concerns that their communities and cultures are at risk of being lost to the perils of climate change. The youth also spoke about how the natural resources that have sustained Indigenous peoples for centuries are in jeopardy of being destroyed by extreme weather events. The youth recognized this as a pivotal moment for communities like theirs across the globe and called for bold action to lead the world toward a sustainable, equitable and inclusive future.

Joining Secretary Haaland for the virtual session was Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs Bryan Newland, Executive Director of Indigenous Livelihoods Enhancement Partners Stanley Kimaren Ole Riamit, and General Coordinator of Global Alliance of Territorial Communities and Vice Coordinator of the Coordination of Indigenous Organization of the Amazon Basin Tuntiak Katan.

Archives of the live-streamed events are available at the U.S. Center's YouTube webpage.


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