THE University of the Philippines Baguio (UPB) joins the celebrations of Cordillera Month this July 2021 in commemoration of the 34th anniversary of the founding of the Cordillera Administrative Region through the Third International Conference on Cordillera Studies and through the recently-launched website of The Cordillera Review: Journal of Philippine Culture and Society. Published by the Cordillera Studies Center (CSC), The Cordillera Review (TCR) continues to be a venue for contributing to the meaningful discourses on the Cordillera. Its shift to an online platform enables a reduced carbon footprint while allowing for a wider reach through open access. Visit the TCR online at https://www.thecordillerareview.upb.edu.ph/
Organized and hosted by the CSC, the Third International Conference on Cordillera Studies (ICCS3) held online on July 5, 12, 19, and 26, 2021, with the theme “Indigenous Peoples and the Sustainable Development Goals” is open to the public. By organizing ICCS3 with Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in its central theme, the CSC performs its role as a research center that mobilizes knowledge communities to seek solutions for sustainable development concerns, according to CSC Director Dr. Ruth M. Tindaan. The CSC, which is also celebrating its 40th anniversary, thus increases the social impact of the University in terms of making ways for the country to achieve the SDGs, in keeping with the UP’s mandate as a public service university.
On the second day of ICCS3 held online on July 12, 2021, the plenary speaker, Dr. Priscilla Settee of the University of Saskatchewan, Canada, discussed the relationship between SDGs and indigenous studies as a field of academic study. Dr. Settee talked about how indigenous knowledge systems help solve the development crises brought about by capitalism. She pointed out that “indigenous knowledge systems are absolutely essential as we are the unrecognized growers and cultivators of most of the world’s foods.”
The speaker further conveyed that even while communities suffer, indigenous knowledge is still very much alive and has the power and capability to influence and reverse trends of the world. In particular, she mentioned the problem of food insecurity which led to a massive global food sovereignty resurgence. Dr. Settee addressed the virtual conference participants: “it’s incumbent on us […] to understand the importance of international linkages and network, working, teaching, and research to understand the challenges at hand” and emphasized that “the time to act is now.” She also said that activities like the online conference “feed our spirit to understand that we are part of a global movement that is not backing down,” and remarked that such a meeting of minds “has the answers and has the creativity to be more for the unborn future children of this world.”
In her talk, the professor and director of the Indigenous Peoples Program of the University of Saskatchewan said that at the heart of indigenous sovereignty and self-determination are six principles. “It focuses on development for the people; it values people; it localizes development systems; it puts control locally; it builds knowledge and skills, particularly among our young ones; and, most importantly, it works with nature as we have seen in the Cordillera,” Dr. Settee pointed out.
It is then important to build “economies that matter,” according to Dr. Settee, who also said that the “success of social economies is ensured through the adoption of a shared vision where everyone’s opinions and ideas are given consideration.” In general, success is ensured through cooperation and multisectoral collaboration, according to her. In her conclusion, the advocate of indigenous peoples’ rights, women’s rights, and environmental rights, emphasized that “we are a collective, that we are united by our vision for our equitable future based on indigenous justice, and we are not alone in this struggle. “We are part of an ever-growing body of hope that exists,” Dr. Settee remarked.
Recordings of the plenary and the eight panels may be accessed at the ICCS3 website. Join the rest of the ICCS3 virtual sessions on July 19 and 26. For details, visit https://www.facebook.com/OfficialUPB. (UP Baguio Public Affairs)