November is officially recognized as Native American Heritage Month. As conversations surround this month and the meaning it holds for our community we recognize the ever-increasing importance to advocate for Indigenous voices. Native peoples' fights to conserve, preserve and heal our land can no longer go unheard. Their solutions, and continued fight for water/earth protection, must be taken and implemented if we are to reach our climate goals, sustainable development goals and everything in between.
Earlier this month, the UN Climate Change conference, known as COP26, kicked off with the usual talks of how we as a world can reach climate goals. Taily Terena, representing the Indigenous People’s Caucus, addressed world leaders in this powerful opening statement, “Indigenous Peoples are affected first and worst by climate change, and by colonial climate action, yet we drive critical climate solutions rooted in our relationships with the living world.”
As the current extractive models have pushed our climate to a breaking point, the need to look back on Indigenous relationships with land, water and other natural resources is key to combating and mitigating effects we are already seeing. While Indigenous communities all over the world, including those in coffee producing regions, contribute the least to climate change, they are some of the biggest communities impacted by its effects. Indigenous people protect approximately 80% of global biodiversity, yet they make up less than 5% of the population.
The most recent IPCC report agrees “that Indigenous knowledge is critical for adaptation," but conversations centering Indigenous groups, food sovereignty and climate justice at COP26 “mostly happened on the sidelines of the main event.” (Lisa Held, ‘Peeled’).
Kailea Frederick stated in an interview with Civil Eats "Indigenous peoples hold climate solutions inherently through our cultures and through our land-based practices, which we have not lost touch with." Their knowledge of reciprocity and respect for the balance of nature create sustainable relationships of producing, growing, and cultivating. Native-led solutions can work and have worked. Indigenous communities' resistance against carbon projects “will have stopped greenhouse gas pollution equivalent to nearly one-quarter (24 percent) of annual total U.S. and Canadian emissions” (Indigenous Climate Action).
Pachamama was born out of the ingenuity of a farmer-led, Native-led solution and to this day is still led by the producers at origin to build change for the industry. By listening to Native voices, we can move forward towards a future with nature having a seat at the table, where planet health and human health is regarded in tandem with and more important than profits.
When Pachamama was founded over 15 years ago, our name was chosen to signify how we do business differently, our founders wanted a name that resonated with their cultures and instantly showed what we as a business value. In the Native Latin American languages, Quechua and Aymara, Pachamama directly translates to Mother Earth. Our founders built a supply chain where producers were valued fairly for their work, making it sustainable for the earth and their livelihoods. By connecting producers directly to end consumers, producers are rewarded from their environmental efforts with higher premiums and profits directly from sales of their high quality organic, shade grown coffee. As Pachamama President of the Board, Merling Preza, stated so clearly
“In order for a business model to be sustainable there has to be benefits for everyone along the chain.”
Extractive models are never going to be sustainable, for people or the planet. Protecting the planet and growing productively are not mutually exclusive. That’s why Native-led solutions to climate change are key. “When you talk about how to change the world, most of the time it comes down to how can people make money. And because the climate is forcing more resilient systems to remain and less resilient systems—like mono-cropping and clear-cutting—to fall off, I think we’re going to see more acceptance of systems … And that’s an important moment to create opportunities for guidance from Native communities.” - Costa Boutsikaris, Director of 'Inhabitants'
Many of our owners identify with native groups from their respective countries in Latin America and Africa. They have been on their land for generations passing key land management knowledge down. They produce organic and shade grown coffee to preserve the biodiversity and unique environments of coffee producing regions for future generations to come, and through ownership can do it with a profit.
When you buy from farmers (whether that is coffee, produce etc) that commit to better farming practices you continue to advance their commitments through your purchasing power. When small farms that produce organically, regeneratively, and in other ways to preserve diverse ecosystems earn your purchase dollars, over those not doing so, you show your community that these solutions can be feasible. A climate resilient future is possible if only we have the courage to listen and change.
Written by Ashley Fleming for Pachamama Coffee