Indigenous peoples

Why a Global-hub on Indigenous Food Systems?

On 1st of April 2016, the United Nations General Assembly declared 2016-2025 the United Nations Decade of Action on Nutrition. The Decade of Action on Nutrition is ten year commitment that provides an umbrella to unify a wide group of actors, enabling the establishment and implementation of policies aimed at eradicating malnutrition, and transforming food systems to make nutritious diets available to all.

There are 476 million indigenous peoples around the world (ILO 2019) . Many indigenous people are among the world’s 688 million undernourished (SOFI, 2020), as a result of historical discrimination, economic and environmental marginalization, and systematic suppression of their knowledge in some cases.

Indigenous peoples’ food systems can play a significant role in informing the transformation of food systems, making them more sustainable, climate resilient, nutritious and respectful of nature. Indigenous peoples are gatekeepers of a great cultural and biological diversity; they are key allies for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Indigenous peoples’ traditional knowledge and customary systems guide their food system practices and have allowed them to ensure continuity of their existence and well-being, sometimes in face of major environmental changes. Indigenous peoples’ knowledge systems have proven to be dynamic, results-oriented, and site-specific to the people and environment. However, the speed at which indigenous peoples’ knowledge is being lost needs urgent actions to preserve and learn from it before it completely disappears.

In November 2018, FAO co-organized the First High-Level Expert Seminar on Indigenous Food Systems, gathering 200 participants from 23 countries, 22 indigenous communities, 20 research centres and universities, out of which 70 were panelists. The Expert Seminar resulted in the creation of the Global-Hub on Indigenous Food Systems as a means to preserve indigenous peoples’ food systems, and to leverage ancestral and scientific knowledge to inform the transformation towards more sustainable food systems. The Global-Hub was founded by FAO, Bioversity International, CIFOR-ICRAF, IRD, UNESCO, and Indigenous organizations from the seven socio-cultural regions, along with other member organizations. The objective is to encourage the preservation and horizontal and vertical sharing of indigenous knowledge to support the wellbeing of indigenous peoples and to inform sustainable food system practices and policies worldwide. Universities, research centres and countries will benefit from understanding indigenous food systems better and research on indigenous food systems, traditional diets and diversified food items that could inform sustainable policies.

What is the Global-hub?

The Global-hub’s objective is to facilitate an exchange of evidence that bridges the gap between scientific and indigenous peoples’ ancestral knowledge, thus aligning research agendas that can inform the food systems debate in the context of the United Nations Decade of Action on Nutrition.

The Global-hub’s four pillars of work are:

How is the Global-hub structured?

The Global-hub will be based at FAO Headquarters and the Indigenous Peoples Unit will host its secretariat. The Global-hub members will meet once a year coordinating the rest of activities as well as the knowledge database online.

What is the approach of the Global-hub?

Knowledge co-generation with indigenous peoples is the core principle of the Global-hub. This original way of operating ensures connections and information sharing that will create understanding and respect between stakeholders operating at different levels, thus enriching policy dialogues on sustainable food systems. The pillars of work of the Global-hub and its activities applies the principle of free, prior and informed consent (FPIC), and respects the intellectual property rights of indigenous peoples.

What the Global-hub will be contributing to?

The Global-hub will generate knowledge in the context of the United Nations Decade of Action on Nutrition to contribute to the SDGs, to the strive for Zero Hunger and to FAO´s efforts in the transformation towards more sustainable food systems.

The Global-hub’s inputs will support the 2021 UN Food Systems Summit and other policy discussions and initiatives that relate to sustainable food systems, such as The Voluntary Guidelines on Food Systems and Nutrition of the Committee of World Food Security (CFS); UNFCCC; CBD; INFOOD; Decade of Indigenous Languages; Decade on Family Farming; and Decade of Ecosystems Restoration.

SOFI 2020: FAO, IFAD, UNICEF, WFP and WHO. 2020. FAO, IFAD, UNICEF, WFP and WHO. 2020. The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2020. Transforming food systems for affordable healthy diets. Rome, FAO

ILO 2019. Implementing the ILO Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention No. 169: Towards an inclusive, sustainable and just future.