The Indigenous Groundwater Declaration of the Australian Chapter of the IAH (by Enrico Cameron)
Enrico Cameron (GeoStudio – Environmental and Geological Consulting Office, Italy):
In November 2022 the Australian Chapter of the International Association of Hydrogeologists (IAH) has put forward the Indigenous Groundwater Declaration to foster the respect and inclusion of Indigenous knowledge in groundwater activities, deliberations, decisions, and policies. The Declaration recognizes that Indigenous people of Australia have not given up their sovereignty over their lands and waters and have been connected to them for over 65,000 years. Indigenous people hold their own cultural and spiritual identity, including songs, dances, and stories that express their connection to the land, waters, and dependent species. The Declaration, moreover, acknowledges the rights of Indigenous peoples as stated in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, including the right to maintain their spiritual relationship with their lands, territories, waters, and resources, and the right to protect and develop their cultural heritage and traditional knowledge.
It recognizes the deep cultural and spiritual connection of Indigenous people to the land, including groundwater, and places of cultural significance formed by groundwater processes. The declaration acknowledges that groundwater remains an important part of Indigenous life and ways of knowing, with connections maintained through Lore, language, stories, songs, and dances. It recognizes the role of Indigenous people as knowledge-holders and stewards of groundwater resources, based on their customary law, and values groundwater research and teaching that incorporates Indigenous knowledge and supports the inclusion of Indigenous voices in decision making regarding groundwater. The Declaration, also, emphasizes the importance of respectful engagement between hydrogeologists, water scientists, and Indigenous people to produce and share groundwater knowledge and develop solutions to groundwater-related issues. Finally, it affirms the intention to integrate Indigenous and western scientific knowledge to protect and secure groundwater for the future through a two-ways approach to hydrogeology and science.
The complete text of the Indigenous Groundwater Declaration, along with the sign-up form, can be accessed here.
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