XII Crans Montana Forum in Switzerland
Geneva, 1 July 2001
The CIC International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation a non-governmental organization active in 80 countries for the sustainable use of natural resources has determined as a primary objective to draw the attention of the world to the precariousness of the indigenous peoples who, until today, live by hunting, fishing and gathering.
At the occasion of the Crans Montana Forum, the President of CIC has launched an urgent appeal for help for these endangered peoples underlining that among more than 5000 indigenous peoples, only about 50 indigenous communities live and depend directly from nature. He deplored that wildlife conservation and management efforts in general do not take into consideration these populations who represent the last elements of a disappearing way of life. Threatened by deforestation also due to different kinds of pollution, the demographic pressure of other populations, the extension of agricultural and urban areas, as well as industrial exploitation of the soil and other natural resources, these populations are disappearing today. The pygmies in Africa as an example have seen their territories being reduced in a drastic way since the beginning of the last century, and today this process has reached dramatic proportions as a threat to their survival.
The CIC proposes the creation of an International Foundation whose objectives are the following:
- Identifying and analyzing the status of all indigenous peoples concerned (Pygmies, Inuit, San “bushmen”, etc.).
- Defining the necessary actions for the purpose of the preservation of their rights (territories, etc.) and the self-determination of those who, in particular, still live on traditional hunting and fishing today. They are to have free access to their territories of habitation and migration and should be guaranteed the rights to use the natural resources of these zones. They must be enabled to oppose local and international decisions that violate their interests directly or indirectly; they have to be included directly in the respective negotiations and consultations with respect to their customs and traditions.
- Urgently identifying alternatives for the consumption of timber from the rapidly disappearing tropical forests, the home of many of the indigenous tribes.
- Increasing the awareness of governments and international institutions to the plight of these peoples.
The International Community, having already achieved a considerable success in the conservation of nature, has to act promptly on behalf of the indigenous hunters and gatherers, as the risk of the disappearance of this important part of human heritage has never been greater.