Climate change affects indigenous peoples most: scholar

Taitung, March 11 (CNA) Indigenous peoples worldwide contribute little to global warming but suffer the most from its impact, a local professor said Thursday at an international indigenous conference in Taiwan.

"Most indigenous peoples around the world are not the major source of air pollution, energy overuse or carbon dioxide emissions," said Jolan Hsieh, an associate professor at the College of Indigenous Studies of Taiwan's National Dong Hwa University.

"However, who sustains the most damage of all when natural disasters occur? Seems like it's obviously the indigenous people, " she said at the World Indigenous Television Broadcasting Conference (WITBC) in southeastern Taiwan's Taitung County, which has a large indigenous population.

Hsieh, a member of Taiwan's Siraya Tribe, urged indigenous peoples to contribute their traditional wisdom to help save the planet.

During her presentation, she also displayed some Web sites as examples of how indigenous people can make their voices heard via the Internet.

Indigenous villages in southern Taiwan were hard hit by floods during Typhoon Morakot last August.

Etan Pavavalung, a member of Taiwan's Paiwan Tribe, said at the conference that his tribe had to relocate after the typhoon.

"Many of my tribe's elders blamed the disaster on the government's wrong policies on mountain protection and land development," he said.

Masao Aki, director of Taiwan Indigenous Television (TITV), said that when the Morakot disaster occurred, TITV immediately decided to suspend some of its programs and to focus instead on the typhoon damage.

In addition to providing updated news reports, TITV set up a call-in service to help local indigenous people find their missing family members, he added.

The TV channel also worked with citizen journalists to report on the devastation and post updates on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, Masao said.

TITV's video footage from the disaster areas was shared with Taiwan's mainstream media outlets and foreign news media, including BBC, CNN and NHK, he noted.

"We have therefore created a standard operating procedure (SOP) for future disaster reporting," Masao said.

At the session, Phillip Kabua, the Marshall Islands' ambassador to Taiwan, highlighted the urgency of the climate change crisis.

"Time is running out and the clock is ticking away fast," he told the audience.

At the end of the session, Lulama Mokhobo, an executive of South Africa's Public Broadcasting Services (SABC) who moderated the session, asked all the participants to stand and observe a minute of silence for those who suffered as a result of climate change.

The conference was co-hosted by TITV and Public Television Services, both under Taiwan's public broadcasting group Taiwan Broadcasting System.

TITV took over the chairmanship of the nine-member World Indigenous Television Broadcasters Network (WITBN) this year and will hold it until 2012.
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