Sunday, February 15, 2015

Unique global gathering highlights indigenous peoples’ role in fighting poverty and hunger

Rome, 11 February 2015 – Fifty representatives of indigenous Peoples' organizations from all over the world gather tomorrow at the International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD) headquarters in Rome to discuss the importance of traditional knowledge in eradicating poverty and hunger and transforming rural communities.
The participants in the forum represent more than 370 million self-identified indigenous peoples who live in some 70 countries around the world, many of them in rural areas.
“Indigenous peoples are long-valued partners for IFAD,” said Kanayo F. Nwanze, the President of the United Nations (UN) agency specialized in rural development. “From the local biodiversity they have protected and enhanced over generations, to their unique knowledge about the ecosystems that they manage – indigenous peoples’ traditional knowledge is a source of inspiration to everyone who works for sustainable rural transformation.”

The second global meeting of the Indigenous Peoples’ Forum will focus on traditional peoples’ food systems and sustainable livelihoods. A synthesis of its deliberations will be referred to IFAD’s highest decision-making body, the Governing Council, which meets 16 and 17 February.
A unique initiative within the UN system, the forum institutionalizes IFAD’s consultation and dialogue with indigenous peoples’ representatives at national, regional and international levels.
The two-day meeting will build on the results of the first World Conference on Indigenous Peoples, held during the UN General Assembly session last September. The conference called upon the UN Secretary-General to develop a system-wide action plan to implementing the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
“Listening to indigenous peoples helps us to better support their traditional food systems through our programmes and projects," said Antonella Cordone, IFAD’s Senior Technical Specialist on Indigenous Peoples. "But our partnership also enables us to advocate for their rights to development in every national and international policy forum.”
The meeting in Rome is part of an ongoing dialogue process. Forum participants will further discuss issues that have been high on the agenda of regional preparatory workshops carried out across the world. Key issues will include the critical contributions made by indigenous peoples' livelihoods, based on traditional knowledge and reciprocal labour, to sustainable management of resources, biodiversity and ecosystems.
In addition, the forum will address the fact that indigenous peoples’ food systems are under pressure, due to factors such as not being recognized in land tenure systems, climate change discussions and the transitional processes towards mono-cropping production. That pressure contributes to biodiversity loss and erodes traditional knowledge, threatening not only indigenous peoples’ but also whole countries’ food security.

Background information
IFAD’s engagement with Indigenous Peoples has a long history. Over the years, IFAD-funded projects have focused on issues such as indigenous peoples' management of land and natural resources, their participation in policy-making and the preservation of their cultural heritage.
In 2009, in order to further consolidate its leading role in advancing indigenous peoples’ rights to sustainable development, IFAD adopted its Policy on Engagement with Indigenous Peoples. The policy included the establishment of an ongoing policy dialogue through the Indigenous Peoples’ Forum.
Notes to Editors
The plenary sessions of the second global meeting of the Indigenous Peoples’ Forum at IFAD are open to journalists. To check details on the meeting’s agenda and background, click here.
Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; Antonella Cordone, IFAD’s Senior Technical Specialist on Indigenous Peoples and Tribal Issues; and Global meeting participants are available for interviews.

Press release No.: IFAD/04/2015 
IFAD invests in rural people, empowering them to reduce poverty, increase food security, improve nutrition and strengthen resilience. Since 1978, we have provided over US$16.3 billion in grants and low-interest loans to projects that have reached about 438 million people.IFAD is an international financial institution and a specialized United Nations agency based in Rome – the UN’s food and agriculture hub.

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