On November 27 at UNESCO headquarters in Paris, the Campus XL session “Indigenous peoples, guardians of biodiversity” gathered five forest guardians: Benki, Twyla Edgi-Masuzumi, Hilarion Kassa Moussavou (Mambongo), Tumursukh Jal, and Mundiya Kepanga. They interacted with 800 middle and high school students from 26 schools in and around Paris. Additionally, a thousand students from French-speaking schools worldwide participated by submitting questions online, sparking important discussions on preserving our natural world.

This meeting held just before the anticipated COP28 gathering, emphasized the urgent need to protect our primary forests. Various pivotal topics took center stage between students and the five Guardians,  delving into the ramifications of deforestation on communities, the symbolic importance of forests, and the indispensable value of indigenous wisdom in combating the effects of climate change.

One of the standout moments occurred when Benki shared the profound challenges Brazilian indigenous communities face daily. He highlighted the alarming disappearance of Brazil’s forests, sacrificed to make room for cattle farming. This dire situation significantly affects their food sources as the vanishing forests lead to river droughts, consequently causing the depletion of fish populations.

As we navigate the imminent challenges posed by climate change and heed the call to protect our forests, dialogues like these serve as powerful catalysts for awareness and action. 


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