Our world is changing rapidly. Our ever-growing population and urge for bigger economies have led to both positive and negative developments, such as improved technology and infrastructure, globalisation, consumerism and global warming. Due to technological advances, it feels like we are accelerating into the future faster than ever before, but every day it becomes clearer that we are damaging our planet. To address this we have to inspire all humans to create a deeper connection with their cultural identity and respect for one another. A better intercultural dialogue would then play an essential role in achieving peace and sustainable development. Minority and indigenous peoples have a far greater role in this than they sometimes have been aware of and that we have lauded on them. They have an intrinsic connection with nature and a deeper sense of ritualistic self, which is crucial for all of our progress. Through the inevitable process of change and growing of dominant cultures, the world’s cultural colours are fading and elementary wisdom is on the brink of being lost.
While minority and indigenous peoples have an extraordinarily rich and varied heritage of sacred spaces, ancestral lands and traditional knowledge, their cultural expressions have not always received adequate recognition or protection. We believe that this is partly caused by information about indigenous cultures being scattered. Therefore awareness about the world’s cultural diversity and their traditional knowledge is not sufficient. Without wishing to romanticise their sometimes difficult lives, or deny the benefits we enjoy, it is becoming pretty obvious that the developed world does not have a monopoly on wisdom.
Respect for minority and indigenous cultures is vital to the general well-being of those communities and the people belonging to them. Historically, there has been a widespread and persistent lack of respect for indigenous peoples. This has contributed to the endemic problems of abandonment of cultural heritage, which leads to low self-esteem in indigenous communities. This then results in poor physical and mental health, with outcomes such as alcohol abuse. Jimmy Nelson, whose name this foundation proudly wears, has made it his life’s work to attain understanding and respect for the world’s indigenous cultures through his deferential artistic perspective.
Minority and indigenous peoples all over the world are faced with serious threats, from globalisation to climate change. It is estimated that by 2115 between 50 and 90 per cent of the world’s 7,000 mostly indigenous languages will have died out completely. Many of these languages encompass unique traditions and environmental knowledge that would disappear with them. The loss of these languages is evidence of the actuality of processes of killing and destruction inflicted upon indigenous communities for centuries: genocidal violence (killing of peoples), linguicide (death of languages), epistem (destruction of knowledge systems), cultural genocide (destruction of cultures) and ecocide (destruction of eco-systems). To explain this further we take a look into the subjects of climate change, land rights, and mining, but there are many more unnamed factors involved.
According to the United Nations Development Programme, Indigenous communities’ contribution to fighting climate change is far greater than we previously thought. Their forestlands store at least one-quarter of all above-ground tropical forest carbon – about 55 trillion metric tonnes. This is equivalent to four times the total global carbon emissions in 2014.
The close interconnections between culture and nature, and the relationship between people and places are particularly relevant to indigenous communities: hence, culture cannot be distinguished from nature. Indigenous peoples consider themselves to be the custodians of the environment and have maintained vital eco-systems for centuries.
The new trend in globalisation, which is dedicated to an integrated world economy and rapid advances in technology, have accelerated the exploitation of natural resources throughout the world. The fast-tracking of such development has caused the migration of mining companies to more remote regions, hitherto untouched.
We are all human and together we can inspire humanity to respect one another. The Jimmy Nelson Foundation facilitates projects to raise awareness and share knowledge of Indigenous cultures through education and art. The reciprocity projects will focus on working together with the communities to support their cultural heritage. But we can only change the world together!
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Each book sold empowers people to revalue their cultural heritage. From education programmes to research and reciprocity projects. Good karma? You bet. Artist Jimmy Nelson, the initiator of this foundation, creates renowned art books. In his images, people stand there proud, as if on a pedestal, worthy of all respect. The first step towards recognition for indigenous cultures and their wisdom around the globe. His books are making an impact with a capital I. Each book sold is not only raising awareness but also financially fueling our various projects. Visit his website for more information or to order a book.
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To know more about how the Jimmy Nelson Foundation works, you can read our public policy plan. The Jimmy Nelson Foundation is linked to Jimmy Nelson Pictures BV. and we have carefully defined this relationship. We are committed to transparency and share our financial statements with you.
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