Indigenous EO innovation
The establishment of the GEO Indigenous Alliance (GEO IA) in 2019 stems from the urgent need to recognize and address the historical marginalisation and exclusion of Indigenous Peoples in the development and use of geospatial data and Earth observation initiatives. Indigenous Peoples, with their deep connections to land, ecosystems, and traditional knowledge, offer unique insights and perspectives that are essential to understanding and sustainably managing the Earth's resources.
For centuries, Indigenous Peoples have been stewards of their ancestral lands and have a deep understanding of their environment. However, as the space sector and Earth observation technologies have evolved, the meaningful participation and inclusion of Indigenous Peoples has often been neglected, resulting in a significant information gap and lack of cultural sensitivity in data collection, analysis, and decision-making processes.
Recognizing the importance of rectifying this historical injustice and promoting meaningful collaboration, the GEO Indigenous Alliance was established by Indigenous leaders as an essential platform. Its creation was in recognition of the urgency to honor the rights, knowledge systems, and perspectives of Indigenous Peoples as key stakeholders in global efforts to understand, manage, and protect our planet.
The GEO IA recognizes that the active participation of Indigenous Peoples is not only a matter of inclusion, but a necessity for finding comprehensive and effective solutions to the world's environmental challenges. Indigenous Peoples' knowledge, passed down through generations, encompasses a holistic understanding of ecosystems, climate patterns, biodiversity, and sustainable resource management. By integrating this valuable knowledge with modern Earth observation technologies, we can enhance our collective understanding of the Earth's systems and develop more sustainable and equitable solutions. By leveraging Indigenous knowledge and expertise, GEO IA contributes to a more inclusive, equitable, and sustainable approach to Earth observation initiatives that benefits Indigenous communities, the scientific community, and global efforts to harmoniously coexist with our planet.
The GEO Indigenous Alliance exists to foster meaningful engagement with Indigenous Peoples and their communities with the GEO partners and the space sector. This culturally qualified group of spatial experts will assist GEO’s programmes by ensuring cultural balance and respect throughout the engagement and outcome process. One of the primary goals of the GEO IA is to assist GEO and the space sector in fulfilling its obligations under the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. This declaration recognizes the rights and inherent sovereignty of Indigenous Peoples and emphasizes the importance of their participation and involvement in decision-making processes that affect their lands, territories, and resources.
By utilising the GEO IA as an advisory body, GEO will be pragmatically fulfilling its obligations under the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and will be seen to actively promote Indigenous participation and utilization of Earth Observation Data.