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A statement by FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva
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4 April 2017

Meeting of the Global Indigenous Youth Caucus

I would like to welcome the indigenous youth representatives from the indigenous peoples’ seven socio-cultural regions of the world.

I am happy to have this brief meeting with the Global Indigenous Youth Caucus and pleased that you are gathering at FAO, an organization that was born after the Second World War to ensure peace in the world through the elimination of hunger and poverty.

This is your house.

In a world in which climate change brings new challenges and uncertainties, we cannot eliminate hunger without the participation of youth. They must participate in these issues that will affect their children and their children’s children. Let's work together and do it right now.

The Sustainable Development Goals provide an opportunity for countries, indigenous organizations and the United Nations to work together to make an impact starting now through to 2030.

Since the creation of its Indigenous Peoples team in 2014, FAO is strengthening its work with indigenous organizations based on a double approach:

On the one hand, we consider indigenous peoples as fundamental allies in the fight against hunger, food insecurity and poverty because of their wealth of ancestral knowledge and good practices.

On the other hand, we are aware that the lack of recognition of their rights in the management of natural resources and the marginalization they suffer places them in a vulnerable position. I speak above all of your ancestral rights to land tenure. In this regard, indigenous peoples play an important role in the implementation of FAO’s Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests.

It is with this double approach that we have designed, together with indigenous representatives, a joint work plan around six main pillars. Let me highlight two or three of them that I believe merit your collaboration and involvement.

Indigenous food systems are an area of ​​great interest to FAO. Traditional indigenous knowledge and the diversity of indigenous food systems can provide solutions for healthy diets, and many areas such as nutrition, climate change or ecosystem management.

Working with indigenous women's leadership schools has enabled fellow indigenous women to gain access to training on rights, food security and other areas of interest such as the use of local seeds, voluntary guidelines on land tenure, guides on artisanal fisheries, etc. For FAO it is key to mainstream gender equality issues into its programmes for improving food security and nutrition.

As FAO, it is essential that we have joint activities with indigenous youth in your regions.

At the beginning, it may be just one or two, but over time we will ensure that young people are taken into account in the different programmes.

We learn from you about how to combine traditional knowledge with new technologies. Indigenous knowledge and techniques can assist in building resilience to the uncertainties caused by climate change.

Your struggle for land and for the food security of your peoples and your quest for sustainable development is the struggle for the survival of all.

Once again I congratulate you on this meeting. I wish you every success and reiterate that FAO is your home, the home of the youth who want to eliminate hunger and food insecurity from the world.

Thank you. I wish you a very fruitful meeting.