Climate Science 2050: Mobilizing Indigenous-led Research and Knowledge on Climate Change

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Climate Science 2050 (CS2050), a report released in 2020 by Environment and Climate Change Canada provides diverse perspectives on climate science, including Indigenous perspectives, and offers future directions for climate change research in Canada. The report recognizes the impact of “western scientific research practices and colonial policies” on the marginalization of Indigenous perspectives in climate change research and encourages researchers to rectify this historical practice. Guiding principles for CS2050 include Indigenous self-determination and recognition that Indigenous knowledge must ‘coexist’ alongside western science rather than to be subsumed by it. In addition, “collaboration across generations, disciplines, sectors, orders of government, organizations and regions” is highlighted. Examples from Indigenous-led climate change projects are offered throughout the report. At times, the report comes across as geared to a primarily non-Indigenous western audience intending to, or already working with, Indigenous communities. This is especially evident in statements about “supporting capacity building” within Indigenous communities rather than warning against engaging in extractive forms of scientific research. There is a missed opportunity to critique capacity-building approaches often imposed upon Indigenous communities, and to answer the question: capacity for whom, by whom? The report succeeds when it spotlights the climate change priorities of First Nation, Métis and Inuit communities, and the benefits of co-developing research with Indigenous research partners. Readers are encouraged to direct their attention toward supporting, if not funding, Indigenous-led knowledge creation and climate science that contributes to promoting the resilience of future generations.

By Leela Viswanathan

(Image Credit: Michael Hoyt, Unsplash)