Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific

Hiroyuki Konuma

FAO Regional Representative for Asia-Pacific

OPENING REMARKS

by

Hiroyuki Konuma
Assistant Director-General and
Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific

delivered at the

Regional Consultation on Ways Forward
FAO and Indigenous Peoples

Bangkok, Thailand
19 to 20 November 2013

 

Ms Joan Carling, Secretary General of Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP),
Representatives from indigenous peoples organizations in Asia,
Colleagues,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is my great pleasure to extend a warm welcome to all of you to this Regional Consultation on Ways Forward: FAO and Indigenous Peoples. FAO would like to first acknowledge and thank AIPP for jointly organizing this important event. My thanks also goes to my FAO colleagues, particularly Mr Yon Fernandez Larrinoa for his kind support in the organization of this event.

Ladies and gentlemen,

FAO’s mandate is to build a world free from hunger and malnutrition, with due respect for universal human rights. As part of this endeavor, FAO adopted a Policy on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in August 2010. Through a global consultation process, the policy was developed based on international instruments, one of which was the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples adopted in 2007. It sets out principles and directions to ensure the relevance of our efforts and activities in this regard.

FAO recognizes indigenous and tribal peoples, with their wealth of ancestral knowledge, as key partners in the fight against hunger, malnutrition and food insecurity. Through their local wisdom and traditional lifestyles in conservation and management of resources, farmers, pastoralists/herders, fishers, foresters, foragers, gatherers, mountain people and other communities actively safeguard and conserve our agricultural biological diversity, including genetic resources for food and agriculture. These practices and knowledge serve as an important basis for the food security of present and future generations worldwide.

Ladies and gentlemen,

In May 2012, the approval of the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries, and Forests in the context of National Food Security signified our determination in pursuing the negotiation process in which representatives of Indigenous Peoples participated actively. The Voluntary Guidelines also underscore the efforts undertaken to protect indigenous peoples’ rights and customary tenure systems. It recognizes not only the economic and environmental value, but also the social, cultural and spiritual value of land, fisheries and forests.

It is important for countries to consider elaborating specific policies and strategies that address indigenous peoples within their country development plans and objectives. The recognition of indigenous peoples’ territories and land rights, along with an integrated approach to increase their access to capital, physical and social assets, is crucial in providing them with the possibilities to exit from their socio-economic vulnerability.

Another example is the International Year of Family Farming 2014, which will be launched on 22 November this year. The campaign recognizes that some 370 million family farms worldwide belong to indigenous communities.

Indigenous peoples’ engagement and inputs are thus fundamental for FAO in this vision.

Ladies and gentlemen,

During the last session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNFPII), a joint meeting between the UN agencies and indigenous peoples’ representatives was held in May 2013 in New York. It was during this meeting that Ms Carling was elected as the Forum’s member representing Asia. She expressed to FAO the need for a consultation to address the above concerns and challenges in the region, recognizing that opportunities exist for collaboration at various levels, including FAO’s Country Programming Frameworks where national priorities in food security are identified.

This Consultation is therefore organized with the aim to i) up-date the present status on implementation of the FAO policy on indigenous and tribal peoples, and ii) identify areas of collaboration between FAO and indigenous peoples in the region.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The agenda of this Consultation should offer you many opportunities to share and to discuss ways in which we can collaborate to better support indigenous peoples for better livelihoods and inclusive development in the region. The success lies in our collective wisdom and collaboration that we will embark on. I wish you a fruitful meeting and a pleasant stay in Bangkok.

Thank you.