Amagansett’s Alec Baldwin gave an address on climate change at 18th Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues Tuesday, April 23, the day after Earth Day. The actor explained how global warming and climate-related issues are damaging the environment and hurting indigenous peoples around the world, despite their role as some of the plant’s leading protectors.
During his five-minute address, Baldwin boiled his thoughts down to one point: “If you are serious about fighting climate change, get serious about empowering the people who are protecting the world’s forests. It is that simple,” he said. “The world owes indigenous peoples in forest communities everywhere an enormous debt of gratitude for generations of leadership protecting forests and out planet.”
Baldwin said he became engaged with this issue after speaking with participants at the 2015 Paris Climate Conference where a groundbreaking agreement was made to combat global warming. “This was new for me and offered me a real education,” he said of that conference, noting that “climate change is hitting hardest those who have done least to cause it, especially the world’s indigenous peoples from the arctic to the tropics.”
He called for protection of the world’s forests, which includes helping those indigenous people who remain as their stewards—many of whom are being murdered without protection. In Paris, Baldwin met indigenous leaders who said these are serious obstacles, including lack of secure rights to their lands, leaving them vulnerable to agricultural business interests, illegal logging, poaching, mining, drug cartels, dams and other barriers to their work. He said violence against and persecution of indigenous peoples is on the rise and must be stopped.
To fight this crisis, Baldwin told those assembled at the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues that “we must look to the wisdom and knowledge of indigenous cultures.” He said the UN’s leadership is especially needed at this difficult time.