NEW DELHI—Adivasis will be able to enjoy true freedom only when they feel secure physically, culturally and economically, Odisha-based climate activist Archana Soreng told HuffPost India in an interview.
“It is very important that the community members are feeling secure. Only when they feel secure, they will be able to enjoy freedom to practise traditional knowledge and make eco-friendly products like leaf plates or mats out of the leaves,” said the twenty-four-year-old Soreng, who was born into the Odisha’s Kharia tribe.
The young climate activist, who works with the Bhubaneswar-based not for profit organisation Vasundhara, was recently nominated to a new seven member Youth Advisory Group set up to advise United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres on climate change.
A UN statement referred to her as being “experienced in advocacy and research” and noted that, “she is working to document, preserve, and promote traditional knowledge and cultural practices of indigenous communities”.
Speaking with HuffPost India, she underlined the importance of securing rights over land for Adivasis.
“I feel when rights are secured over land and forests, they will be economically, culturally and physically secure,” Soreng said.
“If these are secured, they will be able to continue their practises which they have been doing—which is using alternatives to plastic which causes pollution, water rejuvenation or forest fire protection so that is how I feel that the emphasis should be on making them secure and enabling them to contribute what they have been doing since ages,” she added.
Soreng described what freedom means to her. “And so when I see myself, what freedom means to me...it is to speak for my community; having known that because of their struggles I have reached here. And then also to work for sustaining the environment and nature because that is the essence of my community.”
The young activist also shared her thoughts about the...