Special Event

Indigenous Culture and Environmental Education: from the field in Northeast India

Endeavors of Environmental Lawyer Amba Jamir

World School Network's parent organization "ECOPLUS" held an open lecture by environmental lawyer Mr. Amba Jamir at the National Olympics Memorial Youth Center, Tokyo, Japan, from 14:30 to 17:00. Over 20 joined the lecture, including participants from Japan, America and Australia. Mr. Jamir explained about life and the rich nature found in indigenous communities in Northeastern India and introduced activities of his self-started NGO.

Mr. Jamir is originally from Nagaland in Northeast India. He explained, "Northeast India is surrounded by Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, and Myanmar. If you look at its boundaries, you can see that 97% of its border is international. Only 3% is connected with India. There are 8 prefectures in Northeast India. They make up just about 7% of the landmass of India, but have almost 50% of the biodiversity of India. In terms of biodiversity, cultural heritage and indigenous knowledge, and ownership of resources, we have everything. In Nagaland alone we have 32 dialects."

Mr. Jamir titled his talk, "Shifting Options: Communicating for a sustainable future". He says that a core principle of his NGO is working to help communities create their own sustainable futures as an option to life as usual.

After working with the UN and WWF as a lawyer, Mr. Jamir and colleagues started the NPO, "the Missing Link," seven years ago. The organization aims to intervene and link active local NGOs, international organizations and national governments. They are supported by volunteer lawyers, policy makers, school teachers, etc. Their primary activities are in development communication and environmental education, capacity building, research and documentation, and networking.

Mr. Jamir explained. "We try to utilize the local indigenous knowledge and also give communities a larger picture of what is happening at the international and national levels. We also try to help locals realize their own potentialities. Concrete examples of activities are biodiversity contests which have kids search for local plants and their uses; story telling by hunters etc., which passes on local wisdom about nature and animals; and market surveys which help locals realize food security issues."

Mr. Jamir showed many slides of the rich, green hillsides and the unique clothing of indigenous peoples in Northeast India. Participants were drawn in with his presentation style and watched the very closely. Many questions arose in the question and answer session, such as: "What does the Missing Link do for funding?" "How do you evaluate your success?" "How many NGOs do you work with?" and "Do you have any problems caused by diversity of culture and language?"

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