How India can learn to tackle climate change from its indigenous communities

Phrang Roy, better known as Bah Phrang, works to preserve the knowledge of indigenous communities to ensure the children of today do not lose their links to their identity.

As chairman of the North East Slow Food and Agrobiodiversity Society, an organisation active in 41 villages in Meghalaya, he promotes indigenous forms of knowledge through food, agriculture and biodiversity.

He is also an international councillor for Slow Food International, and the organiser of Terra Madre Salone del Gusto, a biannual event in Turin in Italy that celebrates sustainable food and biodiversity. A key part of the event is Indigenous Terra Madre, organised by Roy, which highlights the issues of people from such communities around the world.

Speaking on the sidelines of the conference, Roy spoke of how his awakening to his indigenous identity came about while working in the administrative services in Maharashtra, about his efforts to strengthen indigenous cultures in Meghalaya, and his conviction that different systems of knowledge can work together for the betterment of such communities, especially in the face of climate change.

“Our knowledge systems, both traditional and modern, have gaps. Are there ways in which we can make them speak to each other?” asks Roy.

“We need to create a platform or a forum where we acknowledge the two as different, and equal, knowledge systems. That is the problem. We do not acknowledge them as equal.”

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