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Indigenous communities are central to climate policy, expert says

Environmental social scientist and historian are available to comment on global climate summit

EVANSTON, Ill. --- As President Biden convenes 40 world leaders today and tomorrow to address the climate crisis, Northwestern University professor and global environmental justice expert Kimberly Suiseeya says Indigenous communities most impacted by climate change must have a central voice in setting policy.

Kimberly Suiseeya is an associate professor in the department of political science and the environmental policy and culture program at Northwestern. She is a faculty affiliate of the Center for Native American and Indigenous Research and the Center for the Study of Diversity and Democracy. Her research focuses on global environmental politics and political ecology where she explores connections between international relations, comparative politics, anthropology and human geography. She can be reached at or by calling Stephanie Kulke at 847-491-4819.

Quote from Professor Suiseeya
“For too long, climate politics have left those most impacted by climate change behind. Indigenous communities, island communities and those living in extreme poverty are communities that can and do make important and innovative contributions to addressing climate change.

“Today’s climate talks present an opportunity for the United States to lead and inspire transformation in climate governance towards governance driven first by pursuits of justice. Justice-forward climate policy means considering how patterns of inequality shape humans’ abilities to contribute to effective governance and centering those voices of historically marginalized communities in how we approach climate change. As we all know, addressing climate change requires deep collaboration across all levels of society; justice-forward climate policies can help build the relationships and trust necessary to achieve this.”

Doug Kiel is an expert on Native American history and politics who has written extensively about Indigenous land rights. He is an assistant professor in the department of history and the Alice Kaplan Institute for the Humanities as well as faculty affiliate in the Center for Native American and Indigenous Research. He can be reached at 847-467-4821 or by email at

Quote from Professor Kiel
“Indigenous peoples around the globe are on the front lines of the climate crisis not only in regards to its disastrous ecological effects, but also the very processes of fossil fuel extraction that drive this crisis in the first place.”

Find additional Politics 2021 experts on Northwestern’s For Journalists site.