Mundiya Kepanga is a great chief of the Huli people who dwell in the dense rain-forests of Papua New Guinea. He journeyed to the Paris climate talks wearing the colorful feathered headdress and long nose quill that connote status among the indigenous people he serves.
“I live in the forest,” Mundiya explained at the global headquarters of UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization in Paris. “When the world was created the forest was created and the trees were born, and my ancestors have always lived there.
” Now, those forests are being destroyed by renegade poachers of tropical hardwoods and reckless loggers who plunder the lands of the Huli and ravage this precious resource. The destruction may be unfolding far from Paris, but it’s as near, he warned, as our next breath of air.
“My forest is not mine (alone), it is yours as well,” Mundiya said through an interpreter. “If we vanish, we vanish together.”
Midway through two weeks of global climate talks in Paris, Mundiya reminded us why this work is so urgent and of the stakes we all share in getting this right. We might not look the same, dress alike or speak the same language, but we’re all linked in a global community by the natural systems we depend on to survive.
“I do not know how to read or to write. … It is with my eyes I am going to testify, and with my heart I am going to testify.” — Mundiya Kepanga
Ultimately, fighting climate change is a fight about people. All over the world, people whose lands, homes and very lives are imperiled are standing up to the frontline dangers of this widening scourge. If we’re going to craft meaningful solutions to the climate crisis, we must listen to the voices and hear the stories of people already living at disaster’s doorstep.
Here is the videos on the Intervention of Mundiya Kepanga at the Museum of Man in the framework of the conference "Indigenous Peoples against climate change" organized on 25 November 2015 on the occasion of the COP21.