Climate Change, Sustainability, and Globalization: Charting the Future of Indigenous Environmental Self-Determination
Environment & Energy Law & Policy Journal, Vol. 4, No. 2, p. 188, 2009
69 Pages Posted: 19 Jun 2011
Date Written: 2009
This article explores indigenous peoples' claims to "sustainability" and "self-determination" in an era where the global community faces challenges that could dramatically alter the natural world, most vividly illustrated by the problem of climate change. Although we constitute a "global community" in an ecological sense, we are situated within a multitude of cultural communities that have differing values about our obligations to other communities, to the land, and to future generations. Given this reality, how do we create needed policy changes at the local, national, and global levels?
This article argues that continuing tensions over development evoke intercultural norms of value, sustainability, and justice. The article first examines the politics of climate change within the international and domestic governance structures, on the theory that these politics provide the overarching framework for discussions on tribal energy policy and the context of "indigenous environmental self-determination." The article next explores the history and current context of tribal energy development that informs much of the contemporary exercise of environmental self-determination for Indian nations in the United States. The article then engages a focused discussion of the energy policies of the Navajo Nation, which has asserted its 'sovereign authority to develop its energy reserves in a manner that is consistent with tribal norms and its commitment to self-determination. Finally, the article develops the notion of "sustainability" as one that embodies the combined forces of policy, justice, and environmental ethics.
Keywords: Climate Change, Sustainability, Indigenous Peoples, Energy Development, Self-Determination, Environmental Policy
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