2020 has already proved a monumental year of transformation and opportunity.
On 21 January, in Davos during the 2020 World Economic Forum, I was privileged to co-present the Declaration for the protection of the Earth’s Natural Sacred Sites, together with ASSEGAIA Alliance partners. I felt deeply honoured to know that Indigenous elders were holding simultaneous ceremonies on this date at fourteen Sacred Natural Sites around the world, in support of the Declaration and all that it represents.
The current planetary crisis demands a quantum shift in how we relate to Nature. To ensure a sustainable, ecological future, we must embrace an ecocentric rather than egocentric approach that recognises the sacredness of Nature. Inevitably, this must become the new normal, the status quo, and the central focus of service-based leadership. This is the essence of the ASSEGAIA Declaration.
Following upon the urgent environmental conference that was held last year in White Lion ancestral territories to chart a plan that protects the world’s Sacred Natural Sites, this international Alliance has been established: a specialist group of indigenous leaders, scientists, conservationists, environmental lawyers, human rights experts, and global NGOs, together with Spiritual Guardians of Sacred Natural Sites: the ASSEGAIA Alliance (Alliance for the Sacred Sites of Earth Gaia).
Drafted by these Alliance Members, after 6 months of painstaking and intensive deliberation to find the point of profound, long-lasting unity between Indigenous wisdom, scientific acumen, international enviro-law expertise, the ASSEGAIA Declaration was forged.
The Declaration represents a seismic shift in the protection of the Earth’s most sensitive biosystems which are the life-support for the planet, calling on governments, the United Nations, and private sector companies to place the regeneration of living Earth (‘Gaia’) at the centre of all decisions affecting Sacred Natural Sites.
The Key to the restoration of our planet is through securing the protection of these sites, which function effectively as the vital organs of Mother Earth’s body. This has been clear to me ever since we achieved the impossible in our project by purchasing the Heart of White Lion ancestral territories to ensure the flourishing of these Sacred Animals within their endemic homelands. Credo Mutwa informed me that the White Lion Heartlands is an ancient Sacred Site, and it was declared as such by African kings hundreds of years before the Kruger National Park was proclaimed in 1926.
The White Lion Heartlands itself has been identified as ASSEGAIA’s founding Sacred Natural Sites in the UNESCO Declared Kruger-to-Canyons Biosphere region, effectively the pulsing Heart of the Animal Kingdom on Earth, holding the Source codes and pulsing the life-blood in support of all the other Sacred Natural Sites.
The ASSEGAIA Declaration has informally presented at key international conferences including the Convention on Biological Diversity (Nairobi); the UN Climate Summit (New York); The Climate COP (Santiago); and was due to present at the Wild Wilderness Congress (India) IUCN World Conservation Congress (Marseille) and the Convention on Biological Diversity COP (Kunming). Although these international conferences have been postponed due to the Covid-19 crisis, this has not halted the unified efforts of the Alliance partners.
The purpose of the alliance is to identify Sacred Natural Sites across the planet needing urgent protection, and to fast-track their protective status through application of international rights of Nature, and by raising financial support.
In addition, the Declaration offers a new template for preserving the integrity and health of Sacred Natural Sites. This includes a “no-go” zone at the heart of the site and a buffer zone surrounding it for ecologically sensitive activities, including regenerative agriculture, connective experiences with Nature, and heritage, educational and information centres.
These activities are guided by the biocultural rights of Spiritual Guardians (whether humans and/or sacred animals) whose purpose is to protect, conserve, maintain, and restore Sacred Natural Sites.
Founding partners include Global White Lion Protection Trust, Worldwide Indigenous Science Network (https:/wisn.org), One Ancient Future, Le Ciel Foundation, EVOL Foundation together with international envirolaw partners, including Natural Justice.
Since its conception in August 2019, the international alliance has wasted no time in advancing global legislative processes to protect the two founding Sacred Natural Sites under the Protected Areas Act of local legislature: The Venda Sacred Sites and the White Lion Heartlands.