Land is Life was founded at the World Conference of Indigenous Peoples on Territories, Environment and Development in May of 1992. This historic gathering brought together over 700 indigenous leaders from around the world. Participants drafted and unanimously signed two landmark documents in the international struggle for indigenous peoples’ rights, the Kari-Oca Declaration, and the Indigenous Peoples Earth Charter. Land is Life was founded as a way of continuing the important work of this conference and promoting the ideals expressed in these two documents.
Since it’s founding, Land is Life has played an important role in the international struggle for indigenous peoples rights. We have strengthened indigenous participation in international policy-making processes; promoted dialogue between indigenous peoples and international development institutions; worked effectively within the United Nations system to promote and protect indigenous peoples rights; and assisted communities to protect their rights at the local and national levels.
The mission of Land is Life is to support indigenous communities in their efforts to protect their lands, cultures and livelihoods, and move forward a process of dialogue and strategic action that would bring about the international recognition of indigenous peoples’ rights, as articulated in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
There are approximately 370 million indigenous people in the world today, which can be divided into some 5,000 distinct peoples. Where they have managed to maintain control over their ancestral homelands is where we can still find intact ecosystems, clean water and the vast majority of the world’s biodiversity. That they are allowed to continue safeguarding their homelands is necessary not only for their continued existence as distinct peoples, but also to maintain global ecological and climatic stability.
We live for the day when indigenous peoples around the world are able to practice self-determination; when their human, economic, social, cultural, political and territorial rights are both recognized and respected; when they are free to speak their languages, maintain their sacred traditions and continue the work of caring for their ancestral homelands. We work towards the day when indigenous peoples are recognized as valued members of the international community, and are allowed to assume their rightful role as partners in creating a more equitable, just and sustainable world.
From the Arctic to the Amazon, from Siberia to South Africa, from West Papua to Rwanda, we envision genuinely democratic and autonomous indigenous regions, where indigenous peoples can live according to their own economic, social and political institutions, maintain and develop their cultures, and pursue their own models of development. This, we believe, is necessary not only for their survival and continuity as distinct cultures, but also to maintain the ecological, hydrological and climatic stability of the entire planet.
Humanity is in the process of losing the vast majority of its cultural, linguistic, religious and artistic diversity. Immense bodies of biological, ecological, pharmacological and spiritual knowledge are disappearing at an alarming rate. We can continue in this direction, and face enormous consequences, or we can begin creating a world where indigenous cultures can flourish and contribute to global peace, health and security.
Together, our Steering Council members are the protectors of our mission, the guiding light of our work, and the sounding board for Land is Life's global network. Respected leaders in their own communities as well as in the wider international indigenous movement, the Steering Council is at the heart of Land is Life's efforts. Find out more about each member by clicking on their name or photograph.
Land is Life is a 501c3, non-profit organization. In 2012, Land is Life was granted Special Consultative Status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).