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Consulting Indigenous communities to preserve a unique ecosystem: a first time in Chile

In September 2017, The Rapa Nui people agreed with the Chilean Environment Ministry on the creation of a 700,000 square kilometer protected marine area around Easter Island in the Pacific Ocean. Due to its location, Easter Island’s ecosystem has unique coral species preserved by the traditional fishing practices that would be also protected. Chile has

Can you imagine a supermarket without foreign products?

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In an article published by the BBC, an initiative undertaken by a supermarket located in Hamburg, Germany, was highlighted as an innovative action against xenophobia. The Edeka Supermarket took away all foreign products from their shelves such as Spanish tomatoes and Greek cheeses replacing them by signs including the following messages: “Our selection knows border

Toys to promote diversity

Although 25 million of Mexican considered themselves as part of indigenous groups, a group of educational researchers noticed that kids could not find toys or games in any of the 68 indigenous languages spoken in Mexico by more than 7 million of people. As stated by the National Institute of Geography and Statistics (INE) the number of indigenous languages

“Indigenous people have been the more organic framers of what a Shared Society should be”

Today we celebrate International Day of the World’s Indigenous People. According to the UN, there are 370 million indigenous people in the world across 90 countries, representing 5,000 different cultures and speaking around 7,000 languages. They represent unique cultures and ways of relating to people and the environment. During Club de Madrid’s Working Group on

Election Times in Nepal

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The recent holding of the first phase of local elections in Nepal and the imminent holding of the second round on June 14th are a positive sign and an important landmark in the democratic transition of the country. Nearly 50,000 candidates stood for 13,556 positions as mayor, deputy mayor, ward chairman and ward member in

Consulting Indigenous communities to preserve a unique ecosystem: a first time in Chile

Captura de pantalla 2017-10-11 a las 11.02.14

In September 2017, The Rapa Nui people agreed with the Chilean Environment Ministry on the creation of a 700,000 square kilometer protected marine area around Easter Island in the Pacific Ocean.

Due to its location, Easter Island’s ecosystem has unique coral species preserved by the traditional fishing practices that would be also protected. Chile has become one of the five countries with the largest area of marine space protected in the world.

The Environment Ministry, Marcelo Mena, introduced the agreement as part of the commitments of Chile with the community:

“it was the first time indigenous people had been consulted over the creation of a marine area in Chile.”

Overall, 642 Rapanui people voted on this unique consultation to create this area which will be administrated by 6 Rapanui representatives and 5 Chilean Government representatives.

In an interview with the Chilean Newspaper La Tercera, PokiTaneHaoa, Rapanui local leader, highlighted that the protected area would allow them not only to manage their territory but also to fight against illegal fishing and consequent loss of biodiversity. All relevant decisions regarding the sea area around the island will be overseened by its inhabitants.

As included in the Minority Rights Organization directory, indigenous people in Chile include the Mapuche, Ayamara, and the Rapanui people among others. According to the 2012 census, more than 1.7 million Chileans self-identified as indigenous: 88% as Mapuche, followed by 7% as Amara and 5% other smaller groups.

In 2007, Chile adopted the United Declaration on Indigenous Rights and, in 2008, it ratified Convention 169 of the ILO on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples which guaranteed rights to education, property, consultation and self-determination. The same year Chile adopted an indigenous policy called “Recognition: Social Pact for Multiculturalism (Re-conocer: Pacto Social por la Multiculturalidad”. In 2016, a Presidential Advisory Commission was set up with the purpose of preparing proposals in the areas of regional and territorial development and participation of indigenous communities[1].

As part of the conclusions of the Working Group on Sustainability and Shared Societies convened by the Club de Madrid through its Shared Societies Project, society and the environment, together with the economy, have been identified as the three pillars of sustainable development. Given that, this Working Group underline that “meaningful participation by all stakeholders is viable and can ensure more sustainable decision making: some are the continuation of traditional practices, some are part of devolution of local government by the state; and some are situations in which local people have taken control of their own affairs.” As a core element of the Shared Society concept “the ability of indigenous peoples not only to maintain their own cultural context but also to fulfil their responsibilities to future generations, demonstrates the significance of their own local government systems.”



[1] OECD (2017), Making Decentralisation Work in Chile. Towards Stronger Municipalities, Multi-Level Governance Studies, OECD Publishing, Paris.

Can you imagine a supermarket without foreign products?

Captura de pantalla 2017-10-11 a las 10.59.03

In an article published by the BBC, an initiative undertaken by a supermarket located in Hamburg, Germany, was highlighted as an innovative action against xenophobia.

The Edeka Supermarket took away all foreign products from their shelves such as Spanish tomatoes and Greek cheeses replacing them by signs including the following messages:

“Our selection knows border today”

“This is how empty a shelf is without foreigners”

“This shelf is pretty boring without diversity”

Pictures of the empty shelves became viral worldwide a few weeks ahead of the recent federal elections in Germany held in September in which migration became an important issue within the political debate.

More than 1 million refugees have entered Germany since 2015, a social challenge that made German politicians raised integration and national identity as main topics of discussion. As highlighted in certain media, Chancellor Merkel’s “refugees welcome” policy in 2015 “has fueled the rise of extremist views that wants to close the country’s borders and curb the right to asylum”.

Germany, like many other countries in Europe, faces major global challenges including climate change, a demographic challenge and economic pressures from globalization and migration. It also faces specific defiance related to democracy: the rise of populism as exemplified by the rise of the AfD.

However, according the Migration Policy Index (MIPEX), which measures policies of countries to integrate migrants in Europe, Germany ranks among the top ten countries in Europe on integration policy. The index stated that “Germany’s integration policies have benefited its economy by contributing to rising employment rates and positive public attitudes towards immigrants”. In addition to this, the creation of a Federal Commissioner at the Chancellery to coordinate integration plans among ministries and federal states, has been highlighted as a good practice.

The Edeka Supermarket’s campaign promotes a Shared Societies perspective and was revealed at the right time, a few weeks ahead of the German election.  It shows the imaginative way that the issues related to migration and refugees can be highlighted and shoppers provoked to stop and think.

Toys to promote diversity

paquitos

Although 25 million of Mexican considered themselves as part of indigenous groups, a group of educational researchers noticed that kids could not find toys or games in any of the 68 indigenous languages spoken in Mexico by more than 7 million of people. As stated by the National Institute of Geography and Statistics (INE) the number of indigenous languages speakers has fallen from 16% of the population in 1930 to barely 6% today.

In an article published on July 27th, the Spanish journal El País highlighted a research project developed in Mexico aimed to teach Mexican kids indigenous languages.

The project developed by a research group of the National Institute of Astrophysics, Optics and Electronics (INAOE) alongside the Higher Center of Social Anthropology (CIESAS) is aimed to promote among kids the languages spoken by their parents and grandparents. A couple of dolls, “Paquita” and “Paquito”, have been designed wearing indigenous clothing as a model of social identification for minors, says Aurelio López, research at the INAOE. Paquitos are recommended for children aged between 2 and 4 years old including various types of interactive games. The doll can speak, saying the parts of the body in the specific language when the child presses it.
The project, entitled “Development of tangible educational and pedagogical robots for the learning and revaluation of indigenous languages” is being tested by the Secretariat of Public Education (SEP) as part of Mexico’s recent efforts to promote endangered languages.
An educational policy that promotes pluralism, diversity and mutual understanding is part of the Shared Societies Commitments to ensure an education system that offers equal opportunity and educates children to understand and respect others. In addition to this, the bilingualism and the promotion of indigenous languages also “endow children with other abilities in their reasoning”, emphasizes Lopez.
Watch a video in Spanish with additional information about this initiative:

“Indigenous people have been the more organic framers of what a Shared Society should be”

Today we celebrate International Day of the World’s Indigenous People.
According to the UN, there are 370 million indigenous people in the world across 90 countries, representing 5,000 different cultures and speaking around 7,000 languages. They represent unique cultures and ways of relating to people and the environment.
During Club de Madrid’s Working Group on Shared Societies and environmental sustainability, the role of indigenous people was one of the major topics discussed. Dalee Sambo Dorough, Former Chairperson of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, was part of the group. We asked her about the role of indigenous people and Shared societies, what are the challenges when it comes to inclusion and more.

Question: The role of indigenous people and Shared Societies? How Indigenous population themselves can overcome environmental obstacles that we are facing now?
Answer:

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Q: What is the role of the Forum on Indigenous Issues at the UN?
A: The Forum on Indigenous Issues at the UN is a mechanism for indigenous peoples with the mandate of saturating the UN system with the perspectives of indigenous peoples across the globe.
It is a unique entity within the United Nations because 8 elected experts on indigenous issues from State governments and 8 nominated indigenous peoples representatives compose it. The nominations come from indigenous organizations from around the globe.

Q: What are the challenges that indigenous people face regarding inclusion?
A: The key challenge here is getting member states of the UN to pay attention to the outcome document and breed life into de aspirations and into the call to action of Club de Madrid’s outcome documents.
Very much so like the fact that though in 2007 the UN General Assembly adopted the UN declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, the key problem and the frustration is the lack of implementation of this declaration in order for indigenous people to effectively enjoy and exercise the human rights that are firmed in that instrument.
World leaders should realize that it is in their best interest and in the interest of their citizens to begin the implementation of that UN declaration. If the implementation of the rights and standards are effectively and genuinely put in place, it would be less pressure upon national governments and societies as a whole, because then indigenous people would become more effective participants in the design and implementation of national agendas for sustainable development, for appropriate sustainable and equitable economic development, for example.

 

Read the final outcome document of the working group on sustainability and Shared Societies here.

Election Times in Nepal

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The recent holding of the first phase of local elections in Nepal and the imminent holding of the second round on June 14th are a positive sign and an important landmark in the democratic transition of the country. Nearly 50,000 candidates stood for 13,556 positions as mayor, deputy mayor, ward chairman and ward member in 283 local municipalities.

Since the stablishing of the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, after the 1996-2006 Maoist insurgency and the overthrow of the Nepalese monarchy, constant issues have happened trying to ensure a peaceful transition that promotes greater inclusion of the country’s different identity groups. In this context, the elections are seen as the engagement between different parties and the electorate.

The frequent changes in government in recent years have been detrimental to the country’s development and economic growth. Political uncertainty has made foreign investors reluctant to get involved in the area, and domestic industries have suffered the consequences of the lack of funds, deteriorating even more the situation of the most disadvantaged people.

Inclusion in the country is strongly linked to social justice and identity, and both issues greatly affect the complex Nepalese ethnic mosaic. On top of it, inclusion is linked to demands for federalism.

Local governments have an important role in the participation of all identity groups and sections of society by creating a sense of belonging. This idea was already highlighted by the Shared Societies Project in its publication on Local Government and Shared Societies.

Although vote counting results are still trickling in, the Kathmandu Post reports that the CPN-UML is leading the nationwide vote count, followed by the Nepali Congress, with the CPN-Maoist Centre in third place. The final results will be revealed in the next few days and the second round of local polls will be held in the four remaining southern provinces on June 14th. The outcome of this election will be crucial in determining the future direction of democratic Nepal.

In this context, the Club de Madrid’s Shared Societies Project (SSP) strives to aid Nepal’s quest for inclusion by engaging with local partners to work towards the incorporation of all voices in the democratic transition of the country.

For a more detailed account of the provisional election results, click here.

Malinas: the epitome of inclusion

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In an article published on May 25th, El País highlights the vast multicultural mosaic of Malinas, a Belgian city situated just 25 kilometres away from Brussels whose citizenry is made up of 128 different nationalities and religions. In times of pressing terrorist threats and constant polarization, the official records show that this particular city has managed to keep its Muslim residents away from joining radicalized ISIS forces in Syria. This relative success can be explained by a “carrot and stick” approach that has focused on providing more resources to the police, more security cameras and, most importantly, comprehensive initiatives of inclusion. These initiatives include after-school centres for vulnerable youth, investments in public spaces and no-segregation policies for the development of living spaces.

The author includes the testimony of Alexander Van Leuven, an anthropologist specialized in anti-radicalization who claims that what makes Malinas different in terms of inclusiveness is the fact that everyone within the community is considered to be a valuable citizen, regardless of his or her background or financial means. The egalitarian strategy of the city ensures that anyone with talent and hard work can have a worthy future. In the words of its Mayor, Bart Somers, the key is to leave behind the clichés of seeing Muslims as either victims or criminals and moving forward with an inclusive vision where everyone has the opportunity of a prosperous life.

The Salaam Mechelen project, an initiative started in 1995, perfectly exemplifies this vision. The gist of the project is to use soccer as a means to unite the community: players of all nationalities and origins who are required to display exemplary academic performances in order to play and get together to enjoy the activity in an atmosphere of respect for the rival.

Malinas, the “city of hope”, demonstrates that having an integrated and cohesive society is not only possible under the right policies of inclusiveness, but also highly desirable.

To see the original article in Spanish, click here.

*Featured image by Demi Alvarez.

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