Department of the Environment

Archived media releases and speeches

The Hon Tony Burke MP

Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities

The Hon Warren Snowdon MP

Member for Lingiari

Senator Trish Crossin

Senator for the Northern Territory

World Indigenous Network Conference to tackle big environment issues

Media release
25 May 2013

More than 1,200 delegates from over 50 countries are attending the four day World Indigenous Network conference in Darwin, which starts on Sunday 26 May 2013.

The World Indigenous Network brings together Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities land and sea managers to share stories, knowledge, cultural experiences and ideas to better manage ecosystems, protect the environment and support sustainable livelihoods.

The event was launched by Prime Minister Julia Gillard, at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio +20) in Brazil last year.

The conference program has more than 75 conference sessions, side events, a community art space and dedicated streams for both Indigenous women and youth. It is an event that recognises and celebrates cultural traditions and knowledge and the value of marrying these traditions with best available science.

Environment Minister, Tony Burke, said the World Indigenous Network conference participants were set to tackle some big issues including ways to better protect the environment and promote sustainable use of natural resources.

"The expansion of the Indigenous Rangers network in Australia is one of the most important environmental achievements of this Government, they do some of the best environmental work I have seen," Mr Burke said.

"This conference will be an important foundation for future plans for domestic and international networks that allow Indigenous rangers and others, to continue to work together to share their traditional knowledge, experiences and skills.

"Just as the work of traditional owners has been some of the best environmental work I have seen, it's hard to conceive of the potential which this conference holds.

"There has never been a time in our planet's history where the environment has more at stake and there has never been a time where traditional knowledge has more to offer."

Member for Lingiari, Warren Snowdon said that since 2008, around 700 land management positions had been filled across Australia, often going to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in remote parts of Australia.

"As a Northern Territorian, I know these programs contribute to protecting and preserving Australia's environment, heritage and culture, but they are also an opportunity for many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to undertake work which is important and meaningful to them," Mr Snowdon said.

"Today, there are 56 indigenous protected areas Australia wide protecting an astonishing 43 million hectares, over 30% of the protected area estate in this country."

Senator for the Northern Territory, Trish Crossin, said it was a privilege that the conference would be held in Darwin.

"Darwin welcomes this, and the NT has a lot to offer, given the Indigenous ranger industry we have running strong in the Territory."

Key note speakers include:

James Anaya - United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (US)

Chaske Spenser advocate for United Global Shift and American actor who played Sam Uley in the popular Twilight movies (US)

Melissa George a Wulgurukaba woman from far North Queensland and the Co Chair of the World Indigenous Network National Advisory Group (Aus).

Anil Gupta, creator of Honey Bee Network, supporting grassroots innovators (India)

Deputy Grand Chief, Ashley Iserhoff, Grand Council of Crees (Canada)

Peter Yu, Chair, Northern Australian Indigenous Land and Sea Management Alliance (Aus)

Sir Mark Solomon (NZ)

Ms Ann Marie Sam (Canada)

Ms Maria Augusta Assirati, Deputy President, FUNAIó National Indian Foundation (Brazil)

Dr Taghi Farvar, President, Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities (Aus)