Executive Director of the Center for Indigenous Peoples’ Research & Development (CIPRED)
Indigenous rights and environmental activist Pasang Dolma Sherpa grew up between two villages in Nepal: one high in the mountains, the other in the plains. Her mother led the latter for almost 20 years.
As the climate changed, her high-altitude home started suffering from water scarcity and crop failures, driving more and more Indigenous Sherpa people to migrate to the lowlands. But things were not easy there, either. The plains are facing floods and droughts, and culturally important crops are disappearing to seeds engineered for drier, warmer weather.
More than a decade ago, Pasang realized that Indigenous communities around the world faced similar struggles as their natural environments and their cultures declined simultaneously. She decided to take up the cause – and has never looked back.
“We need the world to recognize the role of Indigenous people’s knowledge, cultural values, and customary institutions in protecting the planet’s ecosystems and climate,” says Pasang, who is now the executive director of the Center for Indigenous Peoples’ Research & Development (CIPRED).
She has represented Indigenous Peoples in international forums such as the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the World Bank and the UN-REDD Program.
“Indigenous women play a key role in transmitting the traditional knowledge, values, and practices that allow our communities to protect – and sustainably use – natural resources,” says Pasang, who has also served as co-chair of the International Indigenous People’s Forum on Climate Change (IIPFCC). “We definitely need more of those women in international climate and environmental forums.”