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Indigenous peoples

High-Level Expert Seminar on Indigenous Food Systems, 7-9 November 2018

The High-Level Expert Seminar on Indigenous Food Systems took place from 7 - 9 of November in FAO Headquarters in Rome. Experts and researchers from all over the world gathered to present indigenous food systems research from different regions and discuss on how to scale up efforts to protect and build on their contributions to achieve the SDGs. Get to know more here!

FAO and indigenous peoples

FAO is one of the leading organizations for its expertise in natural resources management, including food systems. Given the inextricable relationship that exists between nature and indigenous peoples’ livelihoods, FAO plays an important role in protecting the environment and those who depend on it for survival. Many FAO projects relate to indigenous peoples even if indirectly, in their promotion of biological and cultural diversity as the underpinnings of food and livelihood security as well as quality of life.

Who are indigenous peoples?

Currently there are more than 370 million self-identified indigenous peoples in some 90 countries around the world. They have made relevant contributions to the world´s heritage thanks to their traditional understanding of ecosystem management. However, indigenous peoples are among the world´s most vulnerable, marginalized and disadvantaged groups in the world. Although they account for less than 5 per cent of the global population, they comprise about 15 per cent of all the poor people in the world. To date, there is no universally accepted definition of indigenous peoples. The diversity between regions and countries, and the differences in background, culture, history and conditions have proved extremely difficult for the development of one single definition at the international level applicable to all indigenous communities. In accordance with international consensus, FAO will abide by the following criteria when considering indigenous peoples:

  • Priority in time, with respect to occupation and use of a specific territory;
  • The voluntary perpetuation of cultural distinctiveness, which may include aspects of language, social organization, religion and spiritual values, modes of production, laws and institutions;
  • Self-identification, as well as recognition by other groups, or by State authorities, as a distinct collectivity; and
  • An experience of subjugation, marginalization, dispossession, exclusion or discrimination, whether or not these conditions persist.

Discover the indigenous Mountain Peoples Map